Bonum Certa Men Certa

What Really Kills USENET

Summary: Microsoft essentially shuts down its newsgroups with a call for withdrawal, but this is actually part of a trend in USENET's demise, not Microsoft's demise (which is also real)

THE gradual death of USENET is not to do with an innovator's dilemma because there is no one company actually running USENET (although Google has come close to it with Google Groups, which some blame for the disappearance of many regulars who treated USENET as USENET and not as a hit-and-run support forum). The abuse of USENET at a telecom level is a subject that we covered before and it is only getting worse now that more ISPs drop USENET services or charge for them (which would have a similar effect). Many USENET newsgroups that I used to attend for several years are no longer active; in fact, most of them are now filled with advertisements for drugs and sex these days. They are essentially junk with no signal at all and no humans involved.

As many people may have heard by now (it was even in Slashdot), Microsoft is canning newsgroups [1, 2]. USENET does not offer the necessary controls -- a characteristic which is actually a strength (unless you are a tyrant).

“It is possible that Google Groups will become the majority of USENET and this is not good news because Google is an impediment to decentralised communication (which is what USENET was all about).”One reader of ours characterises it by saying that "another Microsoft project dies," but we don't quite see it that way because many companies are exiting newsgroups. USENET just hasn't evolved for far too long, whereas with social media/networks and even interaction with Wave-like interfaces, USENET becomes increasingly obsolete. What's definitely not helping is the attempt to associate USENET newsgroups with illegal activities like "piracy" and "pedophilia" in order to shut them down faster (as we have shown in previous posts about the subject).

It is possible that Google Groups will become the majority of 'USENET' and this is not good news because Google is an impediment to decentralised communication (which is what USENET was all about). In general, as regular readers may already know, we do not view Google as a friend; rather, it's an enemy of an enemy.

In the previous post we showed how Google drains Microsoft's resources (contributing to Microsoft's debt problem).

Every once in a while we receive mail about HR problems inside Google. Last night we received another such warning from a reader who worries about Microsoft staff becoming Google staff.

Brad Abrams, a project manager involved in several of Microsoft's core programming technologies, has taken a job at rival Google.

Google ought to be careful. It should watch what Microsoft did to Yahoo!


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