[vcf-midatlantic] The good old days of user groups.

Dave McGuire mcguire at neurotica.com
Mon Aug 24 17:09:08 EDT 2020

On 8/24/20 3:04 PM, Ethan O'Toole wrote:
>>  As someone who did grow up with them, I can tell you that this is 
>> absolutely the case.  The Internet is presented to people as a "you 
>> can GET this, you can GET that!"  "Get get get!"  ...not 
>> "participate", not
> Oh no way. There were leaches on BBSes too. Heck, they had their own 
> protocol! LeachZModem. It would complete the entire transfer to disk 
> then tell the remote side that the xfer wasn't successful, back up... 
> back up... back up... abort. So user wouldn't get dinged for the download.
> The internet has a ton of people sharing information. I mean, look at 
> youtube. How to fix cars, HVAC, build things, play musical instruments, 
> etc. It far exceeds the old days millions times over.
> And only a small portion of the people in say the underground hacking 
> community or BBS communities had specific skills. MANY were just end 
> users. MS-DOS toaster operators.

   I'm talking about the ratio, not the absolute number.  As a BBS 
operator in the 80s, my leech rate was about 5%-10%.  Sysops of other 
local BBSs saw similar rates.  This was long before the onslaught of 
MS-DOS toaster operators, when all of the BBSs went all "ANSI" and 
semi-graphical, when the majority of them ran on systems like TRS-80s 
and Apples.

   The leech rate is way WAY higher than 5%-10% now.  There is nothing 
to dissuade it, and nothing to encourage the formation of a sense of 
community and participation, other than those few wonderful microcosms 
of smart people on forums and mailing lists, which number as a tiny 
fraction of the drooling morons and soccer moms and "LOOK WHAT I ATE FOR 
LUNCH!" drek on Facebook.

>>  Well, this does have the effect of increasing the signal/noise ratio 
>> on the forums and mailing lists.  In my experience at least, the 
>> people who flock to Facebook, well, sorta belong there! ;)
> A big problem with the stand alone forums is the spam bots and stuff. 
> But many of them are still successful, although traffic is declining. I 
> ain't gonna lie... Facebook marketplace is amazeballs. I've sold a few 
> things on there already, I think it's going to take on eBay and 
> Craigslist. Saw some deals but I missed them. Oberheim DMX for $350.. phew.

   $350...whoa.  Yeah I'd be pissed about that too.

   "Amazeballs", hm. ;)  But yeah, when you're talking about mass appeal 
stuff, the audience is huge, as Facebook represents the general public.

   Which is, of course, precisely why I can't stand Facebook.

> I only have so much bandwidth though. Overloaded in modern times between 
> IRC, Slack, Discord, E-Mail, Text... forums and the occasional facebook 
> driveby.

   I hear that, for sure.

> I think facebook has bad searchability but after the nekochan.org 
> disappeared it showed the risk of ease of loosing long term knowledge pool.

   Yes.  But surely you'd never imply that Facebook is some upstanding 
netizen who will preserve that data because it needs to be preserved, 
for the good of humanity, right?  Remember, YOU are the product on 
Facebook, as you well know.  The don't give a rat's ass about preserving 
anything but their profits.

   Nekochan was a loss because people took it for granted and nobody 
stepped up to preserve the content.  That was stupid.  Unfortunately we 
are headed towards a whole lot more of that sort of thing, as suits 
tighten their grip and as uneducated people continue taking "THE 
CLOUD!!!" for granted.


Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
New Kensington, PA

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