The Difference between Usenet and the World Wide Web

by A Guest Author

For those outside of the IT field, it is easy to mistake the World Wide Web for a Usenet application. Both are accessed via the Internet, and both offer a vast selection of information on any topic imaginable. However, they are entirely different resources, with distinctive driving technology. Understanding how the two are used makes it easier to get the most out of them.

Understanding Usenet

Long before the World Wide Web was conceived, Usenet was created by two Duke University graduate students. Introduced in 1980, the system is an ancestor of today’s Internet forums. For a basic understanding, consider Usenet a cross between the modern day forums and email. News Reader software assists users in viewing and posting articles on any and every topic. Topics are organized in a hierarchy to make them easier to locate. For example, articles concerning science are listed together under an umbrella science heading, which then branches out into sub-topics. Discussions are kept together through threading, and posts are listed sequentially.

What makes Usenet unique is its lack of a centralized server. Instead, a vast and frequently changing group of servers provides storage for posts and feeds the information to others in the group. This is known as a News Feed. Users access articles and posts through their local servers. While Usenet articles resemble email, they have one major quality that is unique: they are not addressed to a specific recipient.

Most Internet service providers, educational institutions, and private Usenet companies operate servers that give access to Usenet at no charge. However, the free services often miss large amounts of content, and they do not permit users to access older material. For-pay services have more features, and their advanced software allows users a comprehensive look at significantly more posts and articles. There are more than 100,000 newsgroups in operation today, offering information on every subject.

Usenet has had a significant impact on modern culture, though many don’t realize it. Some terms that are widely used, such as “FAQ” and “spam”, originated on Usenet.

Understanding the World Wide Web

In contrast, the World Wide Web is an enormous collection of hypertext documents stored on globally interconnected networks (the Internet). Content includes text, images, video, and more, embedded into pages in a user-friendly format. All of the pages and resources are linked together with URLs and hyperlinks. Users access the content with a web browser. Because everything is connected, Web users tend to move quickly from page to page as they cascade, which gave rise to the term “surfing the web”.

Usenet and the World Wide Web can be thought of as two separate applications that run on the Internet. While both offer resources for posting information, each method of operation is unique. Many Internet users choose to take advantage of both services, as their combined features give a comprehensive view of all the information available on a given topic.

Guest Author

Wesley Atkinson has been sharing information about Usenet service for many years. He enjoys educating readers about online information resources. With Usenet, Wesley is able to access many newsgroups and discussions that match his interests.

This post was written by A Guest Author

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