Insert quip about reverse-engineering USENET here

· Syndication

Laura Lemay isn’t the first person to point out that the blogosphere seems to be gradually reinventing the USENET netnews feature set (feeds == usenet), but it’s fun to read her make these points:

Why am I noting these things? Issues of distributing news in either a one-to-many fashion or peer-to-peer, or of uniquely identifying a single post: this is stuff that the people who did Usenet figured out nearly fifteen years ago.

There are differences in the architecture, though, aren’t there? Yes, netnews was widely distributed, store-and-forward, scaled extremely well (technically, if not socially), but it put forum-conversation style communication at the center of its model, whereas the blog conversations explode or decentralize things even further, encouraging each person to host and support their own words (although there is the problem of stray unindexed comments elsewhere).

Also, blogs and webfeeds rely entirely on HTTP, that great firewall exception.

Most importantly, there’s the whole Pirillo case that RSS solves the email spam problem by being entirely opt-in.

Would it also solve the USENET spam problem by the same virtues, or is there some direct connection between the scaleability of netnews and its openness to spam?

Greater minds than mine (who don’t have overdue galley corrections) will have to ponder this.