OK, I enjoyed this assignment quite a bit. I had no idea the old USENETS were still around. I used to dabble in these nearly 10 years ago while working on my bachelors degree at Utah State University.
While I haven’t been on the USENETs for years, I have moved to a similar medium, bulletin boards; same idea, different interface. I have been participating in one in particular for over 4 years now. In fact I recently posted the question posed to us, and got a roaring debate going. Well, maybe not roaring, but it did raise the ire of a few regulars.
My main impression of the newsgroup now is that they seem to have died down. There are still many, and people still post, but it seems like there are only a handful of people in the more active sites. Where have the old users gone? Slashdot? Blogging? Discussion boards?
I was also surprised to come across old posts of mine from almost a decade ago. That was quite surprising.
I participated in several threads, only one really got a reply.
Basically I described my recent introduction to geocaching. I asked about GPS receivers and several people were very helpful in providing information about what kinds of equipment worked well, and where to go to get it. Several posted nothing more than a welcome to the world of geocaching. I guess you could say, the ‘natives’ were very friendly.
I spent nearly 6 hours of time posting and reading to discussion boards. Some of the highlights included fining The Tick being discussed (though not as much as it should be), learning some terminology in geocaching, and getting a fresh perspective on world events from a truly global audience.
For those who would like a play by play, I kept track of what and where I went below. All in all t was a fun exercise, and a stroll down memory lane.
3:45 - Log into Google groups. Decide to see if there are any geocaching groups.
3:58 - Find somebody else blogging because of an assignment. Master’s of Library science at University of Washington Seattle on the alt.rec.geocaching. Looks like other students are being assigned to explore USENET.
4:03 - Read several of the threads. Many of them are in other langues.
4:18 - Think about other hobbies that might be out there.
4:19 - Find alt.tv.the-tick.
4:20 - Weep for joy.
4:21 - Realize the usenet is pretty much dead.
4:22 - Just weep.
4:25 – Try posting. Does not seem to be working. Wonder if there is a time lapse.
4:32 – Go searching for napoleon in Europe… find rec.games.board.ce find several links to blogs. Does that answer the questions as to why newsgroups aren’t used much anymore? Maybe people just blog now.
4:42 - Find a great list of Eurogames I haven’t played (I’ve played many, but not these), and post them to myfamily.com.
4:44 - Realize I am supposed to be in Newsgroups… Go back to Google groups.
4:53 - Post a bit to the eurogames about some of my favorite games.
5:05 – Decide to tackle the question as to why my posts not showing up. Wander over to the FAQ and realized it takes a while.
5:19 - Look at the clock and realize I’m supposed to be home.
5:20 - Log off.
Total time – 95 minutes
11:45 - Log on.
11:46 - Decide to find out what other hobbies of mine have usenet groups.
11:48 - Find more information on Boardgames. I guess that hobby is pretty all-encompassing.
11:52 - Look up a few favorite authors and find the rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan. The site is not just about Jordan’s books though. Nothing really interesting, too broad and I like the classics. Not much talk about Heinlein, Asimov, and Frederick Brown, at least not the current stuff.
11:56 - Look up puzzles and find rec.puzzles.crosswords. That’s not what I’m interested in. Also find rec.puzzles which is much more interesting.
12:01 - A group of the users are trying to find the smallest string of numbers you can enter into google that does not bring up a hit. 16958037 appears to be the smallest they could get. It is comforting to know that people somewhere are attending to these matters.
12:05 - Glance at a few more threads, and move on.
12:12 - Look up Instructional Design and just find job groups. Education brings up a few sites, including one on home schools. It appears there is a Christian homeschool group, and a misc. Not sure which religion misc. is.
12:18 - Most of the posts are links to web sites. Not a lot of discussion going on.
12:28 - Just for fun I look up Mormon. This site is hopping. Visit a few threads but not much that grabs my interest.
12:40 – Decide to go eat my lunch.
12:41 – Log off
Total time – 56 minutes.
3:40 - Log On
3:43 - Read a reply to my geocaching post. Get some good information for what kind of gps systems to buy and a sale going on at Office Max.
3:47 - Tempted to log off and shop.
3:48 - Resist temptation.
3:49 - Read for a while about the different types of GPS devices, and what people use them for.
4:13 – Read an interesting thread about what TNLNSL means, and that there is quite the uproar about defining etiquette. The group is coming to grips with what their mores are.
4:25 - Observe that many of the posts are from Denmark.
Read many threads…
4:28 - Became bored with geocaching…
4:30 - Log off.
Total Time – 50 minutes
11:38 - Log on
11:39 - Decide that today, rather than browse by specific topic, I would go and see what is out there.
11:42 – notice that Soc.culture has quite a few.
11:42 - Click on soc.culture.russian. It is very active because of the recent tragedy at the elementary school.
11:44 - Spend some time reading posts. The issues really come through in a global light. I read a post from a Hindu showing support against “Islamic Terrorists”, and placing shame on the Western World for not reacting with more voice against this act of terror. I read a post by an Islamic professor who quoted passages from the bible that demonstrate that Jesus taught terrorist principles.
12:18 - All quite interesting. It’s a refreshingly different perspective on world events, though some posts are better than other. There is a mix of logical, thought provoking discussion, and posts like this. “India and Russia should join with America and take over the Middle East and crush Islam.
12: 22 - Go visit rec.humor to lighten things up a bit. Find a thread bashing Bush. Little humor, but much vulgarity is used.
12:28 - Decide that most of this is not very interesting humor. 12:32 – Wander over to the alt. sites.
12:35 - Log into alt.aardvark. Mostly spam. Sexual enhancement, make money doing nothing, get your college diploma. I’m tempted by the last one since it can be done in 14 days, but resist.
12:46 - I find one post in alt.aardvark that was very interesting… Somebody doesn’t like Matt Parker. That is bizarre.
12:55 - Leave alt.aardvark
12:58 - Alt.idiot has 30 groups, which somehow seems fitting. There are several active, but it seems like just a group of friends who have found a little known place in the vast internet, and are using it to shoot the breeze.
1:24 - Check back into my geocaching site. More people have replied to my post.
1:35 – Log off.
Total Time – 120 minutes.
3:00 - Log in
3:04 –Search for my name. Found posts! I used to post to several threads ‘back in the day’ while attending university. They are still there in all their glory ;). Hard to believe. I posted in talk.politics.theory, rec.games.miniatures.misc, rec.music.beatles, and rec.arts.poems
3:08 – Find a poem I wrote back in 1997. I must have been having a bad day.
The dark, black circles that fly past my head are hollow, and swollen, and full of the dead.
3:013 – It is amazing to think something I wrote almost 10 years ago is still floating around…
3:14 – Wonders if the time spent back in 1996 can count for the 5 hours time limit needed for this class.
3:15 – decided to play it safe. Return to alt.rec.geocaching a few more people have replied, but the thread is pretty much dead. It would be silly to revive it.
3:25 – Look around the site a bit more.
3:25 - Log off
Total time – 25 minutes
Total Assignment Time: 355 minutes