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Usenet, updated in real time as it was thirty years ago (olduse.net)
77 points by ukandy on Dec 21, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 26 comments

what will really blow your mind is that thirty years from now some wise-ass will do the same with hackernews, and everyone will laugh at how shitty it looked, and that this is the group that built $10 billion companies from nothing but scrappiness, making something people want, and shipping.

Let's admit it. HN is not a highly polished web UI - there's not even thread collapsing. It works because it doesn't matter; we're communicating and sharing wisdom.

And for you wise-asses from the future: THIS IS NOT THE BEST WE CAN DO IN TERMS OF UI. Just like there were cutting-edge films in 1984 with lots of visual effects, we could have a much richer interface today if we wanted. We're not primitive - we don't care! In fact, future wise-ass, what have YOU built today? Why not pick a problem and solve it rather than snickering at the ancient past :)

I think the UI actually works for HN in the same way it worked for reddit back in the day. A very minimalistic interface lets the content be king and scares away people who aren't interested enough in the content itself.

The one thing I will agree with you on is thread collapsing, but I've installed a Chrome add-on that lets me do that.

The great thing about USENET was (and well, is) that news is a protocol so you could choose from a few different clients if the UX for one was horrible. Not a panacea, but it was nice to have that kind of competition.

Thread collapsing (I've got that plugin installed as well), and swapping the lighter / darker portions of the background colors for improved readability and contrast.

If you've got the Stylebot plugin, this CSS:


I wasn't born then, so I don't know how frequently the recent posts change. I thought I'd share this for posterity.

As sad as the post is, I think it really highlights how much the world has changed in just a generation. I hope our kids look back at the world of today with similar distaste. We still have a long way to go.


Same old debates, it seems. LGBT rights in that one, gun ownership in this one:


... and any number of other topics that are still controversial in some way or another. That's one of the reasons I really am loth to see politics on this site - it tends to be kind of boring in that it's pretty much the same old stuff.

Agreed. (I only shared those because they were the newest posts when I visited.)

And even back then people were putting bad subject lines in their messages. I guess I can't blame it on "kids these days" any more...


As a person who wasn't even born at the time USENET was popular, I've found this service very interesting. I was quite surprised when I found one of my current college professors posting in net.jokes!

If you like this website, you may also enjoy http://www.textfiles.com/, a huge collection of old text documents from the early net (especially BBSes).

So I'm counting 832 concurrent users in the shared screen session running the news reader on the front page there. I expect that might be getting a little slow. I've spun up a few more instances to spead the load around.

I remember there was a time period not too long ago when the calendar lined up* with the one from like 1989 or 1992 something like that and 2600 started releasing a bunch of their editors old radio shows from that year as a weekly podcast - as if on a ~decade "delay".

I usually only pop on one of their podcasts when I'm really bored, but I followed most of that while it was happening because of an interesting effect. For some reason hearing about stuff from the past on the same calendar day and day of week just really made you connect to it more.

I saw this the other day too, and bookmarked it because it brought that cool feeling back. It's a really neat idea imo.

* lined up in terms of days of the week - so if the 3rd of March was a Monday the one year, it was the other too

I love that font. The VT220 was one of the first terminals I used for an extended period of time, and I've been using the font on one of my machines for over a year now for that extra nostalgic feeling...

Alternately, there is 'cool-retro-term':


Nice! Can use on my Linux VM.

I'm hoping there is a startup that modernise Usenet and put a nice UX on top, similar to what Slack has done to irc. Why should Reddit has all the fun?

That is a concept to which I've contributed not a few thought cycles to over the years.

Among the more substantial collections of those cycles is here:


There are a number of old Usenetters on G+, including Peter da Silva, who at one point was the most prolific poster on Usenet. And, under another identity, the third.

Some recent additions (not on the link):

Why the hell isn't there a "collapsing thread" primitive in HTML? Which I suppose calls for a threaded primitive as well.

I'm pretty much at the point I'm ready to throw in the towel and create an Internet proxy which rewrites all Web pages to strip _all_ the fucking design off of them and deliver them styled pretty much as Readability / Pocket do now.

I'm hoping NOT.

"a nice UX" is what killed the rest of usenet (google groups anyone?)

What killed GG is that for the longest time it was swamped with spam. Took them surprisingly long to get on top of that.

What killed Usenet was AOL, not Google Groups, which was more like an attempt at resuscitation/usurpation than anything else.

If it killed the rest of Usenet, it was no true Scotsman. Erm, not a nice UX.

pretty slack may also kill IRC in the same way (seriously) at some point nobody is going to use either

USENET was really the first service I used in 1988 that showed me what this whole internet things was about. It was so amazing posting messages and seeing replies from all over the map. The first distributed social network, shame it all went to heck.

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