The Internet has been around for a long time. Before it became available for widespread use, it was primarily used by the government and academics, especially in the 80s. Once the 90s hit, the number of accessible websites skyrocketed, and the online world has only grown since then.
What you may not know is that there was a network that predated the Internet by a few years. This innovation is known as Usenet (short for user’s network). It was invented by two college students for the purpose of sharing news between two university campuses in North Carolina. Today, Usenet is hosted by a global network of servers that keep it separate from the rest of the Internet.
Is Usenet still relevant today even with the Internet as big as it is? Let’s talk more about this unique network and why you should consider joining it.
Today, Usenet acts primarily as a discussion platform. Each forum based around a specific subject is called a newsgroup. Within each newsgroup, users can discuss the topic at will with no regulation and no monitoring. Additionally, you have the ability to download articles that other users share in the newsgroup. These features make it the perfect place for deep discussions or intense debates about a topic.
How to Connect
You cannot simply Google “Usenet” and then get connected to the network. Since it is technically outside of the Internet, a few extra steps must be taken. First, you will need to create an account with one of the best Usenet providers you can find. Some options may be free or low-cost. Then, you will have to download a newsreader program to your device that lets you search the network for newsgroups and articles and view them. Once you have these two tools, you are officially a user on Usenet, and you can start exploring the over 200,000 newsgroups that are currently on the platform.
Method of Learning
Now we can talk about some of the benefits of being connected to Usenet. If you are trying to learn about a new subject, then Usenet can be an effective way of learning. As a discussion platform, and one that is not easily accessed via Google search, many of the users that you will find discussing a certain topic are very passionate about it. That means if you ask a question, you are very likely to get some well-informed answers. With top newsgroups discussing subjects like computing, humanities, recreation, and even social sciences, you can quickly learn from subject matter experts and enthusiasts about a new topic on Usenet.
Market Research for Businesses
If you own a business in a niche that some newsgroups are talking about, then Usenet could be an alternative form of audience research. For example, let’s say you are a brand that helps people build their own PCs for gaming. Your target audience may already be talking about computer hardware and how it works in a newsgroup on Usenet. Plugging into this network could grant you access to the kinds of things your customers are talking about. You can see what their main concerns are, what kind of questions they have, and how they feel about the process of building a PC. The more data you collect about your audience, the easier it will be to tailor your services and marketing to their needs.
Pursuing a Hobby
When you are excited about a specific hobby, it can be truly invigorating to talk about it with someone else who has the same interests. It can serve as an outlet for your excitement, sharing your experiences, or even debating with others about the best ways to enjoy the hobby. Usenet is the perfect platform for this. Your hobby can become even more enjoyable if there is a newsgroup dedicated to people who have the same passions. It can also be a great source of information if you are seeking out new ways to enjoy that activity.
Is Joining Usenet Worth it?
There are plenty of arguments to be made as to why Usenet is worth joining. First, it is a very secure and fast network for discussions and downloading articles. You will not have to worry about downloading something that will destroy your computer. Additionally, the lack of mediation and monitoring means you can be completely honest in your discussions. The number of newsgroups currently active on the network means you can certainly find some subjects you care about.
Whether you are a business looking to understand the audience better or an individual who wants to discuss their favorite hobby with others, Usenet is set up well for these kinds of interactions.
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