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An Introduction to the Usenet

Today I want to introduce you to the Usenet. It is very old – developed 1979 in the USA – and is in a sense an alternative to the Internet. Also known by the name of Unix User Network it was founded by Jim Ellis and Tom Truscott at Duke University in the United States, originally thought as a technical infrastructure to connect two computers.

Usenet

Its structure is built up by so-called news groups, comparable to the threads in forums where the users are allowed to post their opinions on questions or discussions. Newsgroups are available for all kinds of issues – topics reach from everyday life to very specific technical questions. In order to keep track with this large number of newsgroups, several categories have been introduced – the Usenet hierarchies. Initially there were eight big categories where you can information about Computers, Science, Society, and of course other Usenet related topics. Nowadays there are a few more, Wikipedia estimates the number of 170.000 different newsgroups. Many are text-based, but some are more file-oriented.

Because of the design and structure of the Usenet you can compare the infrastructure to web forums, but there are still significant differences. The messages are not stored in a single location and they are also available only for a specific period (the so-called retention time). The Usenet has one big benefit: People get in touch with totally unknown people from all over the world and exchange ideas on various topics. Furthermore you can use the Usenet to spread data very easily, which can be uploaded to the newsgroups. Since the Usenet has been existed for a long time it is still a huge knowledge base, so you find almost always an answer to your specific questions.

In order to download files from the Usenet in an easy way, many programs have been developed for this reason. This software is also called newsreader and the Usenet providers often offer them for free. These newsreaders allow the download of files, and their use is very easy – especially for Usenet beginners. In the relevant Usenet market you can find many competitors that provide you access to the Usenet. For further information please do not hesitate to visit topic related websites like Usenet.org

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