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[Pan-users] Re: New version of pan ?

From: Duncan
Subject: [Pan-users] Re: New version of pan ?
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2011 16:58:03 +0000 (UTC)
User-agent: Pan/0.133 (House of Butterflies; GIT 25ed40d branch-testing)

Rui Maciel posted on Sat, 15 Jan 2011 19:30:50 +0000 as excerpted:

> Mailing lists may provide a similar job as newsgroups but they are a
> crude hack which is much less convenient than plain old newsgroups.
> There is a reason why companies such as trolltech also offer a NNTP
> interface for their forums.

Picking here to reply to the subthread, mostly because I wanted to accent 
the above, which I think is worth it. =:^)  But other than this paragraph, 
my reply has little to do with it.

My theory on usenet, specifically including the binary groups but not 
limited to them, is that despite "eternal September" (which seems to have 
ended, BTW, part of my point), nntp as a technology simply wasn't easy 
enough (not hyperlinked, etc) or (directly) graphical enough for "the 
hordes".  It came from an earlier time, and lacked hyperlinking, etc.  
Combine that with the inefficiency of text-encoding binaries, which then 
had to be decoded and stored somewhere to view, and it was simply too much 
for the "couch potato types", who preferred the simple mouse-browsing of 
the web.  Web forums were then a simple extension of the already familiar, 
needing not the additional client that newsgroups required, so they became 
popular even tho they were and remain a rather inferior technology for 
threaded conversations.

But it was the same inefficiency of encoding and not-quite-as-easily-
surfed technology, along with the decentralization, which made news as 
effective for binaries as it was/is.  For pretty much a decade and a half 
(quite an eternity in "Internet time"), usenet, particularly binaries but 
taking the rest along with it, has had an interesting dynamic where the 
very fact that it is somewhat obscure and quite decentralized is what 
makes it as much a treasure trove as it is.  That kept it out of the 
direct focus when more popular media such as the web and p2p were 
absorbing the direct attacks of the would-be censors, whether copyright or 
politically/morally based.

There was a dynamic balance that existed, such that any time the 
newsgroups' popularity began to increase, it attracted the interest of the 
censors, which in turn made it less relatively attractive to the users, 
such that the "trivially attached" drifted off to other interests, again, 
the web, p2p, etc.  But as soon as they drifted off the popularity 
decreased enough that the relative difficulty and lack of easy reward for 
the censors, going after the decentralized newsgroups, made it a less 
rewarding target than p2p/the-web again, so they focused elsewhere, 
allowing the would-be censored content to thrive in relative peace once 
again, thus eventually attracting users back despite the relative 
difficulties of the medium, thus attracting the censors... and round and 
round we go... with the newsgroups never quite as popular as they might 
be, but as a result, always quite rewarding for those looking for censor-
targeted material.

Now as I've said before, I've not actually done any binaries for years 
(not opposed, just... I've focused on the technical/text groups/lists 
more, to the point I've not had time), so I don't know first hand what the 
effect of the unbundling of usenet as an ISP provided service has had, but 
if my theory is correct, the effect of dropping it out of the popular 
focus that much more SHOULD have the effect of making it that much MORE 
effective as a conveyor of would-be censored material.  Of course, it has 
also meant fewer news providers around, and the ones that remain are 
dedicated news providers now, so it's somewhat more centralized and thus 
easier to control, which could counteract that some.  I don't know.  I've 
been sort of curious to find out, but so far, not by enough to raise the 
relative priority of binaries to the point that I sign up for an account 
(probably an unexpiring block account) somewhere, and get back into 
binaries at least enough to demonstrate to myself the validity or 
invalidity of my theory...

As I said, it's a binary focused theory, but it does take text groups 
along for the ride.  In theory, the "un-eternal-septembering" of the text 
groups (tho not completely, what with google groups and various other 
web2news gateways) should have brought them back to their original mostly 
technical focus, draining away much of the "noise" along with the excess 
groups, allowing the original technical discussion purpose of "the big-8" 
to come to the fore once again.

Does any of this ring true to others, particularly those still actively 
involved in either the binary groups or the big-8 (aka USENET-proper)?

Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman

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