If you’ve ever wondered what the Internet was like in the early days (we’re talking before 1995) Google has completed the task of backdating its collection of articles from ‘Usenet’. (You might know Usenet as ‘The Newsgroups’ or the ‘Bulletin Board’ system, which is probably the third largest system on the Internet these days; behind the World Wide Web and e-mail.)
The archive now dates right back to 1981, and there’s about 700 million postings in there, everything from soup recipes to dialectical materialism, including some of my postings on my opinions on Australian TV. There’s a good collection of all the notable moments of modern history gathered together on the announcement page.
Although the information is largely unqualified and mostly useless, it’s interesting because it’s such a huge collection of knowledge. It’s probably best summed up by one of the pioneers, Gene Spafford:
Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea — massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it.