Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Slow Death 

AOL has announced that it won't provide access to newsgroups anymore. Few are using them, so now one will go through Google, which seems to be the last organization that tracks them.

Most PR practitioners know little about newsgroups. They are an artifact of the early Internet before the Web dominated. There was a time that if one wanted to talk to other PR practitioners, the newsgroup was the way to do it -- and there wasn't much else except CompuServe, another name lost to the past.

The Web is a second generation technology to sweep the Internet and blogs are a third. We tend to forget the Internet is in its 35th year of existence and the Web but 13 or so. Blogs date from the early 1990s but they didn't come into their own until after 1995, and they didn't explode until two years ago.

Old timers remember when we checked newsgroups to find out what people were saying about products, services and clients. I haven't done that in a long time. In fact, when we monitored the web for a major electronics company over a two-year period recently, we rarely looked at or took anything from newsgroups. They were dated and shrinking in usage.

Nothing about the Internet is new, but some things about the Web are. It's good to know where the medium has come from and where it is going.

In addition to remembering newsgoups (not too fondly), I even remember its ancestor, the BBS (bulletin board system).

Mmmmmm, that dates me I guess.


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