>> I had a teensy problem connecting to the server so I
>>> called my
>>> darling ISP.. (here's a news item about them)
>>> ...and the tech didn't know what the word "Usenet"
>>> meant. I talked
>>> to the supervisor and she didn't know what "Usenet"
>>> meant either.
>>> I am not making this up.
>> It doesn't surprise me at all!
>> As in many shops and companies the people don't know the
>> Usenet used to be something you had to either know about,
>> from the old
>> DOS BBS days and only after reading the Usenet
>> It was a wonderfully helpful (lots of professors and the
>> like replying
>> to posts) but dusty old thing hidden away from those who,
>> upon getting
>> their cover disks off the computer magazines just wanted
>> to email, go
>> into chat rooms to slag others off or to put up Web pages
>> about their
> And Usenet still *is* wonderfully helpful. I don't know if
> there are any
> professors here, but there are lots of people who have
> been only too willing
> to help me out.
It is still - and hopefully will remain so - one of the best features of the internet for the reasons you mention. There are many more helpful and knowledgeable souls than idiots out there. Usenet as a name is very 80's though - newer generations would refer to services using the NNTP system as 'newsgroups'.
UseNet is not going away. Most of the people who man the "no-help desks"; have no idea what it is, though. Nor would they likely know what you are talking about of you start mentioning "ftp", or anything related to UNIX. I guess that's the price the world has to pay, for being Windozed down into computer illiteracy.
UseNet predates "the World Wide Web" by many, many years...and there are bazillions of articles archived within UseNet. I have also read that as vast as "the Web" is...it is only capable of accessing a fraction of the information available online; as the http protocol is a relative newcomer.
1995 will one day be celebrated for the year that the sum total of human knowledge stored electronically exceeded all other forms combined.
40 years ago a teacher told me that librarians, the people who can actually access knowledge, would rule the world. you can see it happeneing. you may not call them librarians, but the name doesn't matter in view of the fact.
So not knowing anything about UNIX makes you "computer illiterate", eh? Give me a break. What's next, denying the vote to anyone who won't sign a "Mainframe Loyalty Oath" because they are subversive?
Millions more people are USING their computers for PRACTICAL purposes every year. So what that they can't code the applications they use? I'll bet you can't build a microwave oven either but I don't begrudge you for using one. Why does it bother you that people can open a box and start using their computer within hours - even without a CS degree? Generally society considers it a GOOD thing when technology becomes more widespread and accessible, but rarely do the "early adopters" like it, in my experience.
The presence, or not, of "a computer degree", is not of importance...nor did I even mention such. But we were talking about the people who man "help desks". Using your microwave analogy: If you called a "microwave help-desk"; you would want the person answering; to have a thorough understanding of how the device works; as well as knowing the subtle differences between "Brand A" and "Brand B", would you not? You would want them to be able to give advice on the different cooking techniques that are possible when using a microwave; right?
If your stereo receiver all-of-a-sudden "went dead"; you would expect a "help desk" person to suggest looking inside the cabinet, for a blown fuse...would you not? If the "check engine" light starts shining in your car; you would expect the automotive "help-desk" person to be able to tell you the possible reasons why; and even be able to answer any "car-geek" questions you might have.
Once again, we are discussing those individuals manning "help desks"; and who are being *paid* to assist *paying* customers. I believe Mr. Dancho was referring to Camcast; if he is being honest about the link he provided, being about his own ISP. The following link is for information from Comcast; where newsgroups, as well as UseNet, is discussed:
Yet...the person from Comcast, and their supervisor, had no idea what the name/term meant. Is this the type of customer service you are defending?
There is a difference between subscribing to a new group and actually starting a new Usenet newsgroup. The latter requires issuing of a lot of posting, and a vote in favor from related newsgroup subscribers. Yes, it CAN be done, but it takes considerable effort. One can create a new Yahoo group just by filling out a simple form. Now, I still PREFER Usenet, but that is still an issue that bothers some people. In fact, I created one of the Yahoo groups I use, 'cause it was getting to be such a hassle creating the same group on Usenet.