Thursday, July 31, 2008

PC Magazine Pronounces Usenet Dead—In Other News, PC Magazine is Apparently Still Alive

I suppose it was inevitable. Every so often, you see someone proclaiming The Death of Usenet. This time it's somebody from PC Magazine and much of the consensus at Slashdot is that he's right. In fact given the recent spate of ISPs dropping Usenet alt.* hierarchy at the behest of the Attorney General of New York, I'd say that the Death of Usenet article was a little late this time around.

And while all this is going on, here I am with a backlog of literally thousands of still unread Usenet messages. Thankfully Usenet clients are a lot more powerful than web posting boards like Slashdot and it is pretty easy to clean up most of the Usenet clutter using kill filters to eliminate trolls and spammers. I jumped ship from my ISP's Usenet feed to a third-party Usenet provider years ago so for now, the culling of Usenet by ISPs doesn't affect me. But it is fascinating to see history—or rather the recitation of history—repeat itself. The conventional wisdom for years has been that Usenet is dying, so naturally every Death of Usenet proclamation is treated with a chorus of "duhs" by people who have no idea that there are millions of people happily reading, posting to, and downloading binaries from Usenet to this day.

I also came to another realization. Other than the occasional rant by John Dvorak, this is the first time that I've read anything from PC Magazine in over ten years. Their website is every bit as hideous as I remember it and I haven't read the paper magazine in almost fifteen years. And yet I read Usenet every day. Now I'm sure that there are millions of people who read PC Magazine every day. And here I am living in an entirely different reality than these people. Am I just weird—well, that's a given. And it's nice to have an outlet for my weirdness on Usenet.

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