I also was a member of a large number of local BBS
in the 80's. I also remember that flavor
mentioned. Also, there was the flavor of the software--systems such as tbbs (breadboard), rbbs (compiled basic
, ick), several custom systems, and later, the color ANSI
that was popular later. (I quit the BBS scene before
the more advanced systems started up.)
Part of the fun of the BBS was chatting with local people,
exchanging software, jokes, files, etc., much as you do
now on internet, except that these were local people.
Once a week or once a month, we'd all meet face to face at a user group meeting.
The biggest difference between the local BBS scene
and today's usenet is the number of people participating.
In the early days, downloading files was very slow, and
thus somewhat restricted. Also, there were not very many
things to upload, so some BBS's only let you download if
you had a good upload/download ratio. This is a far cry
from today, where there is so much to download.
Likewise, it was a struggle to keep enough traffic
in the message groups to keep things interesting.
Because there was so little, it was actually possible
to read every message, and the personalities of everyone
on the bbs was a larger part of the flavor of the system.
About five years before the internet explosion, all of
my favorite BBS's converted to unix within about a year's
time. (Fido happened about 6 months later, but none
of the systems I frequented converted to it. I did work with
some fido systems later, however.) Along with unix,
came netnews newsgroups using software such as c-news and rn. (inn came much later.)
For gitm and whizkid, the local bbs flavor died somewhere around here, I think. For me, it lasted at least another
three or four years. All the BBS's were now uucp nodes,
and by then, I had enough money to set up my own system,
and become a uucp node. The old BBS discussion groups
became local news groups, and still had all the same
personalities, now distributed between systems.
This lasted for quite a while, but as the members of
the once tight community moved away, grew up, died,
etc., we became scattered, and were no longer all local.
Also, as internet was commercialised, some of the community members started reading the local groups at
their local ISP instead on smaller uucp nodes.
We opened up our local news groups so that all these
people could read the discussions--both those at ISP's
and those no longer local.
Because people now had a larger set of things to read,
the local groups were shrinking. Then there was the green card lawyers which IMHO were the real cause of the
final death. Once unscrupulous idiots realized that
they could get free advertising via spam, our local groups
were flooded with crap, and the signal to noise ratio went through the floor. We tried putting in filters,
and used the cancel bots, everything short of moderation but it didn't really help. (We were never organized enough to set up any kind of useful automatic moderation.)
Eventually, the number of people with uucp still set up
on their systems shrank to the point where there weren't
enough of them still exchanging local news to keep the
usenet channels going.
We still have our uucp network,
but it is pretty much just used for e-mail now. (It was gatewayed to internet very early on.)
Why exchange e-mail over phone lines in these days of
internet? Well, if you're running a unix machine at home
anyway, it's kinda fun to have your e-mail delivered
direct. I know immediately when I get e-mail, and I don't have
to dial out to an ISP to check it.
However, even this
is dying slowly, as broadband is becoming more available and affordable.
Broadband lets you be constantly connected, so you could
potentially just leave a pop client always running,
checking your mail, etc.
Yes, I think that Everything and sites like it
have recovered some of the old local BBS flavor.
My feeling is that today's usenet newsgroups just have too
many people on them to have a sane discussion. It all gets
lost in the noise. Even moderated groups just have
too much going on in them. Mailing lists are somewhat better, but most of any value are still too large.
I think Everything's node
system helps focus the discussions. The distributed voting and moderating also help.
Imminent death of the net predicted! Film at 11!
Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying the internet and usenet
is useless or that there is no community. The utility of hoards of people all speaking inteligably at once is in itself very interesting, and is a new experience I look forward to every day.
What I am saying is that the personality of the BBS has been more or less lost by internet, probably much like the flavor of the small town. You don't get it in global mailing lists or usenet for the most part. Perhaps this is a good thing, I don't know. I just miss it. Some of the smaller local mailing lists
might be that way still--but it use to be that *every* message area was like that.