News

Remember USENET? It’s Still Going Strong

Do You Even Newsgroup?

If you’ve no idea what any of this is about, kindly step off the lawn so us old fogies can reminisce for a moment.  Long before modern social media, ages before Napster was even conceived of, predating even Double-U, Double-U, Double-U, Dot … there was USENET [queue angry modem screaming].   In the wild first days of the internet, text was king, BBSes were the hottest new thing and USENET was king of it all.  It was the place to get your news, talk about computer hardware, to find help with that puzzle in a game you simply couldn’t solve yourself and to be a little ridiculous.

USENET changed with the coming of binaries and it became a source for downloading just about anything you could think of, some of which wasn’t even malware.  It’s decentralized structure was even harder to police than torrent servers, and so never cracked down on like modern pirating sites were, and it’s ancient interface made for a high bar for the newly technically inclined to connect to.  It was never a secret, but you did have to know about it, and the news sites to connect to in order to join, and it wasn’t the sort of thing that came up in casual conversation.  You can also thank it for the invention of spam, unfortunately.

The original purpose, to give the technically inclined a space to talk about what interests them never died out however.  alt.bin may no longer be what it once was, the original Duke servers may have been shut down but news.you name groups are is still going strong and the Big-8 board is back and one of the members had a chat with The Register.  If this has you are thinking of popping back in to see what new things are going on, the old rules still apply.  If you’re a bit younger and are a bit newsgroup curious, read the links in The Register’s post to familiarize yourself with the ground rules; you don’t want to look dumb in front of your elders.

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