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Presented by: "Rayner Lucas, Tristan Miller"
Rayner Lucas is a freelance software developer based in London, UK. Tristan Miller is a computational linguist at the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (OFAI). Both are members of the Usenet Big-8 Management Board, an advisory committee that assists with the creation and administration of discussion groups in Usenet's "Big 8" international group hierarchies.
Today's social media users are locked into proprietary platforms, under the control of a few large corporations. Users are not customers, but a product to be sold to advertisers. These companies have little reason to care about fostering healthy discussion, only to keep advertisers happy. But there is another model for social media. Federated social networks began with Usenet, a distributed system of discussion forums invented a decade before the World Wide Web. Since then, projects such as Mastodon and Diaspora have used open standards and common communication protocols to give users power to choose their own social media experience. What lessons can we learn from Usenet? What does it get right, and what could it do better? And does Usenet still have a place on the modern Internet?