Sunday, September 10, 2006


If you are old, like I, you might remember life BI (Before Internet). Yes, life did exist then. ;)

One day, someone with a computer and a collection of modems (you know, those things you attach to your computer and the phone line) setup a bulletin board. The bulletin board was for discussing things. Somebody else setup another bulletin board, for discussing other things.

If you wanted to discuss in the first bulletin board, you'd connect your computer to that bulletin board ("dial in"). Then you would disconnect from the first, and dial in to the second. The dialing in process was not instantaneous. You (some of you) use dialup connectivity, and know about the noises - the hums, whistles, and screeches - that you hear when connecting. And the silence, and the suspense. With 9.6K connections, this would take a while.

After a while, the folks in each bulletin board setup connections from one to another. You could dial in to board A, and discuss with folks dialed in to Boards B, C, and D.

This evolved in to Usenet, with hundreds of servers all over the world. All interconnected, and using a common protocol so someone in one country could post to a local Usenet server, and that post would be relayed to a server in another country, and on another network.

But the relaying was done by the servers, and still using dialup conversations. Dialup by the people, and by the server to server message relays.

Then came the Internet, and the World Wide Web (and no the two are not the same). Both the person to bulletin board connections, and the bulletin board to bulletin board connections, were modified to use Internet connectivity. No more dialing up - instant connection. Wow.

Eventually, the bulletin board system became known as Usenet. To participate in Usenet, you'd use a newsreader (not the same as a syndication newsreader), which would connect in to the Usenet network on the Internet.

Then folks demanded more. And web portals were developed. Web sites were built, which would take a Usenet feed, and put it into a web page. One day, Google (the search engine) bought out Deja News (one of the bigger Usenet web portals), and made Google Groups. And now, you have web based discussions. Such as, and alt.24hoursupport.helpdesk (don't go there, and that's a story in itself), (nanae), and microsoft.public.windowsxp.network_web, which is where I got involved, in Web based assistance in general.

And you have private Google groups (not available on Usenet). Such as Google Blogger Help.

Anyway, both Usenet and Google Groups have their advantages - and disadvantages. But that's another post, coming later.