On Tue, May 8, 2018, at 10:27 AM, Dan Cross wrote:
I was lamenting the (asymptotic) death of usenet to a colleague the other day and asked, "where are all the cool kids these days?" I was only half joking: back when news was the main nexus of interaction for technical communities, it really was where you'd go to find things out and where you could reasonably expect to interact with experts. For example, occasionally the likes of Dennis Ritchie would even post in comp.lang.c; Ken Thompson's MiG-29 flight story posted to rec.aviation is a classic. But those days are long gone, so where do technical communities communicate electronically? I'm told Reddit is the new hotness, but it's just not the same (if for no other reason than that it's totally centralized under the control of a single corporate organization).

I think a lot about the death of Usenet, the reasons for it, and what we've learned. I don't know if I've come to any insightful conclusions, but I do greatly miss it. In so many ways we've gone backward. We lost a truly decentralized message board system where one log-in allowed you to read anything about any topic, and replaced it with a mess of incompatible systems. On one hand we've got phpBB forums scattered all over the web that don't talk to each other, each of which requires its own login and password. On the other hand we have walled gardens like Reddit and Facebook that offer much of what Usenet did, but with clumsy user interfaces and centralized control and massive privacy concerns. There's just nothing like Usenet.

I find more and more communities moving to Facebook, which worries me greatly. I'm not a fan. Other than that, mailing lists seem to continue to cling to life as the gold standard of technical communication.

        - Dan C.

  Seth Morabito