Sascha at PCMag writes a charming little piece on the death of Usenet as a method of discourse and its eventual rebirth as a repository for porn, spam, and pirated warez. He recalls the days of “serious conversations” on 8-bit Atari architecture and net.manners.
In a way inconceivable in today’s Web-fragmented marketplace, Usenet was where you went to talk. Conceived back in the idealistic, non-profit days of the Internet, it was—well, it is, but it mostly was—a series of bulletin boards called “newsgroups” shared by thousands of computers, which traded new messages several times a day.
Sascha brings us back to 1993, the year when most of the current blogger kings were just entering college. Their discussions were precursors to the open, sad eyed moping of JenniCam and her ilk, the snark of the Gawker empire, and the basis for just about every social network on Earth. After all, if emo nerds could create a complex network of interconnected forums, think of what Ning can do with VC funding!
I personally never got into newsgroups as a communications medium although I now use the network for another form of data transmission. Is Usenet dead, as Sascha posits? I don’t think so. As long as there are folks who thing a command line is better than a mouse, the original text-only social network will live on. Sure, ISPs will shut down access out of mislaid kiddie porn fears but the real pros know where to go to get their agnst-filled, nit-picking, obsessive fix.