His blog entry (and the associated Flickr series) shows some cool pictures of the reply-to network in Usenet: that is, the network of who replies to messages by someone else.
Of course, the images are generated with JUNG, the open-source network calculation and visualization package.
I'll put in my own two-cents worth below the fold...
There are a number of good reasons why AOL might want to drop newsgroup support. Some people have pointed out that Usenet is less of a critical resource than it once was, and more people are moving to blogs and other fora.
It's definitely the case that Usenet-sans-binaries has remained roughly flat for a while. Here's the number of daily posts, as recorded by Netscan, over the last four years, MINUS ALL POSTS IN ALT.BINARIES (x axis is the number of days since January 1, 2000. Sorry for the awkwardness, but I don't feel like fighting Excel right now.)
So here's how I read the AOL story:
AOL has historically viewed itself as an editor (presenting a happier bit of the internet), I can imagine that maintaining newsgroups have perpetually been a thorn in their sides: a quick skim through the titles sees a distressing amount of sex and pirated and cracked. Especially if their interface is one of the traditional “here’s 30K newsgroups, which do you want?” types.
Combine that with their lawsuit from Harlan Ellison and the fact that newsgroups have to sit on their own server (which means that AOL is “storing” and “holding” the data, which might make them liable), and I can see their desire for getting rid of them.
So I’d read it this way:
And, from the AOL perspective, Usenet is flat (as seen above).
There’s growth on microsoft,public, more mixed on the rest of Usenet. Here’s daily post counts for all of Usenet, minus all posts to alt.binaries. It’s pretty much flat, possibly downward trending.
Doesn't mean that Usenet isn't interesting -- just that they are less likely to lose customers over not having it.
Update: Similar thoughts at Tim Jarret's
Maybe I'll pack him a nice shiny late-2004 vintage Treemap.January 26, 2005 02:19 PM | TrackBack | in Design