1-Intro to Usenet
- What is the Usenet?
- What kind of stuff can you find in the Usenet?
- Where does this material come from?
What is the Usenet? Top
Newsgroups (or Usenet, as they are collectively known) are a veritable Amazon River of information and goodies that flows 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The Usenet is sometimes called the "underground internet" because the Usenet is not as widely used as is the World Wide Web, although it does pre-date the WWW and is one of the older parts of the internet. However, the Usenet is not point-and-click like the WWW.
Generally, you will need to use a "newsreader" instead of a web browser to view it, although you can use a browser to view, post to and search the Usenet. In fact, Google Groups (formerly Dejanews) is a html archive of non-Usenet posts from about the 10 years or so. There are some more recent innovations that are bringing the Usenet to the web however, most of these are restricted to providing an index of what is currently available in the groups.
Usenet consists of a decentralized network of computers (news servers) that allows people around the world to share information. More than 10,000 new binaries are posted every day.
The basic concept behind usenet groups is that people "post" or upload files to a newsgroup. The type of digital material uploaded to the Usenet includes personal photographs and video and open source software. The material is posted to be shared with friends or with loosely associated groups of like minded people. Sometimes you really have to wonder as some of the regular contributors really do contribute so much that it must be a full-time job.
It won't take long before you get the hang of software required to read newsgroups, download, decode files and store them on your hard drive, finally viewing, playing or using digital material from newsgroups. If it sounds complicated, its not so bad but you will have to understand the basics of file management, system configuration, software installation, etc.
Afterwards, you will feel like you are a true participant in the technological revolution and you will join the small percentage of people who regularly use the Usenet and you will finally have a good reason for a faster computer and broadband access!
Ironically, even though the newsgroups are largely officially unregulated, there are rules and codes of conduct that are upheld within newsgroups as you may discover if you do something contrary to a particular group's rules and you are flamed by 30 people much more knowledgable than you (irony and sarcasism all in one sentence!)
Usenet is here to stay!
It is pretty hard to imagine shutting down the Usenet or sue a newsgroup. A particular ISP could decide to remove a newsgroup from their server, but their customers would probably complain. In addition, you could also just buy access to commericial newsservers specializing in usenet groups.
What kind of stuff can you find in the Usenet? Top
Here are examples of a few usenet groups and what they contain:
- alt.binaries.movies - movies in asf, avi, mpeg format
- alt.binaries.multimedia - movies, shows, various video in asf, avi, mpeg format
- alt.binaries.sounds.mp3, alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1980s, alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1990s, etc - mp3's galore!
- alt.binaries.mpeg.videos - music videos in avi, mpeg format
- alt.binaries.warez.pocketpc.movies - video formatted for Pocket PC
- alt.binaries.vcd - movies, shows, various video in vcd format
- alt.binaries.pictures.erotica - xxx pictures in jpeg, gif format
- alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica - xxx movies, various video in asf, avi, mpeg format
- alt.binaries.warez.quebec-hackers - variety of video, music and software
Adult material probably accounts for easily one-third of the newsgroups and at least as much of the content. The adult entertainment industry has been a driving force in the world wide web and it should be no surprise that it is a large part of the Usenet and newsgroups.
There is, unfortunately, still child pornography distributed via Usenet. If you encounter any such material, do not download, share or view it and please consider reporting it to Cybertip.ca in Canada, or the FBI in the USA, or to your particular country's relevant enforcement agency.
Where does this material come from? Top
It comes from all sorts of people from all over the world. Generally, Usenet isn't a commercial realm but is more of a hobby oriented environment.
People are probably posting because they are simply interested in showing their skills. However follow the law. Check out the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) website to learn more about what you should know about copyrighted material.