DPF has a post up about the old days of Usenet. Apparently AOL is not going to host it anymore: too much crap on there these days. Boosted by recent articles in Time, the Listener, and The Economist, blogs are the trendy “new” medium. Although they have been around as long as the internet.
A few memories.
I also first encountered Usenet in 1996 when I returned to University after a stint working at a steel factory. I used to sit up in the advanced maths lab reading some weird ass newsgroups, with Netscape Navigator on a Unix mainframe, until security came round to kick me out late at night. Sad I know. But it was a bit of a thrill to find other nerdy people around the world. Back when the Net was young and not full of spammers and lame AOLers.
I used to post a bit on nz.soc.religion, alt.cuddle, and lurked often in aus.flame.the.usa, alt.usenet.kooks, alt.usenet.legends, alt.religion.kibology, rec.sport.rugby.union, talk.origins, sci.math.*, sci.physics.* . Had a lot of laughs and found a lot of interesting and intelligent commentary on the state of the world. Did you know that on Sept 11, the regulars at alt.religion.kibology frantically posted messages to find out if everybody was OK? Other newsgroups no doubt did the same. It seemed like a high point of the NG community.
It was where the action was online. Sometimes I go back to have a look at the NG’s, but the Google interface & Outlook Express seem inferior to the old Netscape thing. As the years went by my favourite groups got filled with spammers, trolls, flamers, and general idiots (WebTV arrrgh!). The whole community thing was fractured as more of the planet came online, and the tone was lowered. The novelty has sadly worn off.