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09 September, 2023

20x1000 Use(r)net Archive.

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Below you will find a draft version of the post, all images, formatting and links will be missing here as I moved to my new system.

20x1000 Use(r)net Archive.

An investigation of the old web.

This website is a manifestation of an interest I've acquired over the past couple of years in internet communities, creative spaces and human-centric technology. Yes, my landing back on the "small web" is not just a reaction to seeing what happen when someone like Moron acquires a social network like they did with Twitter...

Part of it is that I consider Roblox itself (my employer at the time of writing, in case you don't know) to be part of the more "humanistic" web, a social experience not driven by ads, algorithms and passive feeds, but by creativity, agency, active participation.

As part of this exploration, I wanted to go back and see what we had when posting online was not subject to an algorithm, was not driven to maximize engagement to be able to monetize ads and the like... I downloaded a few archives of old usenet postings (i.e. when newsgroups were still used for discussions, and not as they later devolved, exclusively as a way to distribute binary files of dubious legality) and wrote a small script to convert them to HTML.

The conversion process is far from... good. As far as I could tell, there is no encoding of the comment trees in usenet, it's just a linear stream of email-like messages as received by the server. 

There does not even seem to be a standard for dates or... anything regarding the headers, so whilst I did write a parser that is robust enough to guess a date for each post in the archive, the date itself is not reliable, as I've seen a ton of different encodings, timezone formats and so on. 

Even the post subject is not entirely reliable, because people change it, sometimes by mistake (misspelling, corrections, truncation), sometimes adding chains of "re:" or "was:" and so on, which again, I tried somewhat to account for, but succeeded only partially.

For each archive I converted only the top 1000 posts by number of replies, and no other filtering was done, so you will see the occasional spam, and a ton of less than politically correct stuff. Proceed at your peril, you have been warned.

And now without further ado, here are a few archives for your perusal.

01 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/alt.philosophy/index_main.htm alt.philosophy]

02 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/alt.postmodern/index_main.htm alt.postmodern]

03 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/]

04 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/]

05 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/]

06 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/]

07 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/comp.arch/index_main.htm comp.arch]

08 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/comp.compilers/index_main.htm comp.compilers]

09 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/ comp.development.industry]

10 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/ comp.development.programming.algorithms]

11 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/]

12 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/]

13 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/comp.lang.forth/index_main.htm comp.lang.forth]

14 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/comp.lang.functional/index_main.htm comp.lang.functional]

15 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/comp.lang.lisp/index_main.htm comp.lang.lisp]

16 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/]

17 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/comp.society.futures/index_main.htm comp.society.futures]

18 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/]

19 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/comp.sys.apple2/index_main.htm comp.sys.apple2]

20 [FILE:EXTERNAL/news/]

Better times? Worse times?

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