I was just reading an article about how AOL pulling out of Usenet will spell the end of Usenet. Well, I’m a fairly old-timer on Usenet – the first post of mine that Google Groups archives is from 1989, but I know for a fact that I was posting in 1987 or 1988 at the latest. I’d only *just* missed the Great Renaming, but the net was still full of the fall-out from it at the time. And yes, I’m such an old-timer that I say “the net” when I mean Usenet, and use terms like “the Internet” and “the web” to mean what other people mean when they say “the net”.
Usenet has been my neighbourhood for 17 years, and it’s gone downhill significantly in that time. And there is a reason why those of us from the old days refer to the current date as 4166 September 1993.
I spend most of my Usenet time these days in a small hierarchy that is only distributed to other people who agree to play by the rules, and who agree to pull the plug on anybody else who doesn’t play by the rules. It’s a small community, close knit, literate, smart. No spam, no binaries, no porn, (some erotica), just pure wonderful text written by real live people. We’re not all friends with each other – as a matter of fact, some of the participants absolutely hate each other. But that’s ok. We don’t have to all agree with each other, as long as we behave like adults. It’s like Usenet was before AOL. No, I’m not going to tell you where it is or invite you in. Sorry.
I see the departure of AOL as the most hopeful thing that has happened to Usenet in 12 years. Maybe some day those of you who aren’t old-timers will get a chance to see what Usenet was and what it could yet be again.
Think of this as the last week of the September that Never Ended.