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 the rise and fall of net.manners as more and more n00bs came on to mess up in-depth threads on symbolism in Bob Dylan’s Street Legal.
Is Usenet dead, as Sascha posits? I don’t think so. As long as there are folks who think 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 misled kiddie porn fears but the real pros know where to go to get their angst-filled, nit-picking, obsessive fix.
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.