To me, Usenet was the quintessential Internet protocol for revealing the power of collective thought. It never failed to amaze me what could happen if you grouped the passionate and learned practitioners of every common and exotic discipline known to man, and exposed a simple, textual communication interface. In one swoop you could be following a lively discussion on the new Giant downhill mountain bike, while your question on Fourier expansion edge cases spawns a bunch of responses.
But one cannot deny that Usenet, like email, has fallen prey to challenges that were simply not on the radar in their genesis. The only difference is that the ubiquity and return on investment ratios for email supply a dirty life line to an already dead technology.
What then, I earnestly ask, could replace Usenet? What's right and wrong with Usenet and what's right and wrong with phpbb et al? It seems to me that these features are essential:
- One protocol. Not a thousand different forums with no hierarchy and no common interface.
- Web access and client access. Web is critical for widespread adoption and access when the client is not available. Client access is critical for high volume users.
- Options for moderation. If a group wants it, it can.
- Distributed storage. There's too much traffic to expect every host to be a universal gateway. Perhaps storage could be hierarchal.
- User registration required to post. Spam and bots are easier to manage that way.
- Text first. Similar to the Twitter philosophy - it's the text that matters but multimedia solutions are easily integrated.
As well as the significant technical issues, there are major governance issues in developing Usenet 2.0. But I am genuinely curious - what do you think the successor to Usenet should be, and where do you think it will come from?