December 27, 2023

A piece on Usenet's the September That Never Ended mentioned Google Groups will be dropping Usenet support, which makes me sad. I haven't really used Usenet for twenty years, but for the ten years before it was really important to me, and I liked seeing it was still going on and to be able to look up the odd half remembered post.

Usenet really had a good vibe; the idea of bring your own client and use it across a variety of topic rooms, each forming their own community was great - my favorites were,,, and comp.sys.palmtops.pilot. (A friend of mine has a conspiracy theory that Usenet was too distributed and uncontrollable and so was repressed by the Powers That Be in favor of more centralized forms of social media...)

It made me think about social media forums I've lived in over the years. Each tends to encourage a certain style / length of post, has different types of message continuity (threads, etc), makes it easier or harder to recognizing recurring authors, and has different styles of if you rely more on following people or sipping from the main firehose.

I had a weirdly geeky urge to categorize what I've most used over the years... (my current favorite in blue) These are all based on my judgements of how I or most people use it:
Forum Post Lengths Crowd Size Author Identity Follow or Commons text vs image
Usenet Long Many Medium Groups .Sig Commons (per Group) Text
Livejournal Very Long Friends List Avatar Follow Text
Blog Comments Short Private-ish Name Commons Text
Slashdot Short Large (Geeks) .Sig Commons Text
Atari Age Forums Medium Medium-Small (Gamers) Avatar + .Sig Commons (in Topics) Text
Facebook Medium-Short Real Life (+Algorithmy) Name + Avatar Follow (+ Algo) Mixed
Twitter Very Short Very Algorithmy Avatar Follow (+ Algo) Mixed
Reddit Short Many Medium Channels Username Commons (per Channel) Text
Tumblr Medium Medium ("Mutuals") Avatar Follow Images
WhatsApp Short Private Avatar Commons Text
Slack Medium-Short Private Avatar Commons (in Topics) Text
Discord Short Private Avatar Commons (in Topics) Text
Facebook connects me with a wider range of people from all parts of my life, and despite the privacy concerns and what not, I appreciate how easy its been to share as many photos as I'd ever want, and get them in front of folks, abeit in a haphazard way.

I love the community of tumblr and it's my favorite source of stuff to repost on my blog - but I haven't figured out how to get "followed", so it's mostly a read-only medium for me so far.

Slack closed-garden is my favorite community types now - if you find the right bunch of people (that balance of people who post a lot, and maybe some people who mostly lurk but chime in) it's fantastic. (On paper Discord has the same potential, and is a bit more hip, but somehow the UI for threading and private messaging is horribly confusing, and the whole things gives me Reddit-ish "I can't follow things" vibes.
My dad's Ohio cousins are legit farmers - Adrian, George (the doggo), Red, Kathy

My dad romanticized rural life, but I think more from his experience with the cousins farm than his small town county seat life in Coshocton