Originally published at:


Not actually true.


once everyone you want to talk to is on Facebook, you can’t be convinced to use another, superior service

Everyone started on email, which continues to remain superior to all other messaging alternatives. So why did they ever try anything else at all?


Aah, newsgroups.

I still remember enough of the oldnet to recall the alt. hierarchy being derisively referred to as standing for “Anarchists, lunatics and terrorists”.


I miss the heck out of Usenet. Even after Eternal September it was still a lot better than a lot of the early Web-based BBS’s and walled-garden forums with more intuitive UIs that eventually buried it.

As usual, the answer is $$$.


Slapping a more intuitive UI on top of Usenet (or someone just like him) isn’t a problem. I hate to say it, but a browser-based UI would probably be the best bet even if the networking/message store part was on the same machine.

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Now a browser-based UI wouldn’t be a problem. Back then, I just used a dedicated newsreader application (and before that I just used the terminal process). As I recall, the AOL UI was garbage.

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anyone [could] add any newsgroup without permission from third parties

And thus was born and a million other novelty newgroups

That was okay, it just needed a better arrangement for aging off unused groups. I wrote a BBS where anyone could create any group they wanted, and the message store was a big circular buffer that eventually overwrote stale groups.

GoogleGroups is also an excellent example of how not to do it.


We have another name/effect for adversarial interoperability… Spam. And that’s what happened to the concept.

Now you know why we can’t have nice things

Pretty sure I know a few people here from*

I preferred IM stuff (your ICQ/AIM/Jabber deals) over email, but I guess you could make a case that that’s just fast, short emails.

I miss Deja News. Google fucked it all up when they acquired it and rolled it into Google Groups.


A decade ago, when people were speculating on how Twitter would make money, I suggested they should sell their software and not their users. They chose to sell their users and the first “promoted tweet” was born.

I still think they should sell their Twitter server software to anyone that wants to run it privately, they could then charge federation licensing fees to connect private Twitter servers to the public Twitter servers run by Twitter. They could even set it up so that only users with a federation license would have their feed federated to the public Twitter, allowing private and public use.

They missed out on the boom of corporate communication channels that the likes of slack are living off, which will soon be killed by MS Teams.
They have also missed out on the communication platforms used by gamers, allowing discord to rule that roost (outside of China).

Eventually, people will figure out that federation of private and public systems is the future.


This! Email email email, I hope it lasts forever. “Killer app” doesn’t even BEGIN to describe it.

I work in a company of Slack proselytisers and IMHO systemic over-usage, and it amuses me that even Slack, this supposed great usurper, still sends emails to notify you when you’ve been tagged or whatever, in tacit admission that even if you miss the bold channel names and the icons and the desktop notifications etc. etc., there’s one infallible stateless queue that is always there for us, like a faithful sheepdog… Email is the fallback, the safety net, the underyling lingua franca, almost like it’s becoming one of the OSI layers.

Viva SMTP! :fire:


If you ever had to administer a system with a mail server, you wouldn’t be saying that. It is a nightmare. The underlying protocol was developed in a much more trusting time, when most of the denizens of the Internet were academics. You can fake pretty much anything on an email. That’s why half (at least) of all emails are spam. So you have to add layer upon layer to make up for it - DKIM, greylisting, DNSBL, etc, etc.


I really like these meditations on adversarial interoperability. I feel like the concept has both literal technical applications and also abstract theoretical implications for how to think about the emerging “walling off” of social groupings and phenomena.

It’s not just tech giants which seek to wall themselves off from outsiders in order to build a powerbase which is organized entirely according to their rules. Power brokers try to do the same things with social and political identities, creating theory-spaces which are internally consistent but necessarily hostile toward outsiders who haven’t invested themselves in the world-view.

A natural impulse is to respond in kind, by making our own ideological walled-gardens in which we hope to build more power than the competition and defeat them. But adversarial interoperability suggests that it may be more potent to refuse that walling-off for ourselves and for our adversaries. Does eroding the possibility of building an isolated powerbase in general tend toward liberation…?

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Thanks for dredging up the bad memories of endless hours spent modifying sendmail configuration files and trying to get the most basic of stuff working in a somewhat secure fashion.

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Google is probably right about the content, but the arrogant assumptions built into the rest of the message make it clear that either that they think they own Usenet, or have completely forgotten what it is.!forum/

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Are you a former Forte newsreader user? I remember getting that and I loved it so much. ^-^

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