…..One Last Idle Musing About Kavanaugh & Usenet

by Shelton Bumgarner
@shelbumgarner

…….this is just a very, very casual mulling of something….interesting….going on with my Webstats……why is someone from New York City looking at this Website repeatedly today?

…..it could be anything….maybe they like my lyrics (ha!)…..or….dare I even speculate that….maybe…..just….maybe….something might be up on the Kavanaugh-Usenet front?

I’m 99.9% sure this isn’t the case and it’s probably something much more prosaic than that…..it’s just…if you could dig up (even at this late date) Usenet posts from Kavanaugh at Yale, that would be significant.

but….who am I kidding. I’m just spinning dumb tales as I always do.

it’s just interesting. very interesting. what does it mean?

Idle Rambling About Kavanaugh & Usenet

by Shelton Bumgarner
@sheltbumgarner

Now, I did a quick search of Google’s Usenet archive and I didn’t find anything to indicate Brett Kavanaugh used Usenet while in college. So, that’s pretty conclusive evidence that my barely-a-hunch that he might have used it while he was in college didn’t pan out.

I guess what made what made that whole thing a least a little bit interesting was the fact that if you could find Kavanaugh Usenet posts from his college days, it would be a unique snapshot of his mentality during the period of time everyone is concerned about. Usenet was pretty free wheeling at that moment in its history and the conditions, at least, are there for us to get some sense of his drinking and other behavior.

But, like I said, doesn’t look that my hunch paid off. The only way I could possibly see it panning out would be if you were with a major news organization and you could talk to Google directly about its archive and see if maybe they could find any archive evidence from Yale specific newsgroups. That might be something that might have a greater likelihood of panning out. But barring something pretty dramatic, this definitely seems like a dead end.

There’s just no there there.

But it definitely was an interesting idea for a moment or two. If you could have found Kavanaugh Usenet posts, that could have really changed the game. It would have been pretty dramatic.

My Vision For Time Magazine: Turn It Into A ‘Twitter Killer’ App Based On Usenet Concepts

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Of all the legacy media brands that could be used to destroy Twitter, Time Magazine is at the top of the list. The reason is simple — Time Magazine has a major problem and so does Twitter. Time produces a lot of great content, but it’s based on the cycle of a weekly magazine. Meanwhile, Twitter’s problem is even more systemic. Not only is about 10% of Twitter content the only thing worth anything, but it is extremely poorly designed when it comes to what people have come to use it for: having a discussion.

So, with that in mind, I propose that Time’s new owner, Marc Benioff, completely re-imagine Time Magazine as a publication from the ground up. What you do is, take the very core of what makes Twitter popular — writers and editors talking to each other in a public form — and use all the existing writers and editors of Time as the core of an app (and Website) based on the concepts of the long-ago Usenet.

Now, there are some basic flaws with this concept that would have to be managed. Chief among them being how do you scale the concepts of Usenet into the millions? I propose these problems are fixed in several ways. One, you are paying people to essentially post full-time into a discussion app, you can give them a lot more sysadmin control than you might otherwise. They would have a vested interest in curating their “newsgroups” that they were responsible for. Each writer and editor would have any number of newsgroups, or Groups, that they were responsible for. No need for a hierarchy like Usenet once had. You would have redundant Groups focused more an editor or writer than whatever subject.

Meanwhile, if you limited who could post to any particular group, that would greatly control the number of posts into any particular group and as such aid in scaleability. In affect what you would have is discussion of the massive amounts of content generated by Time Magazine native to the content itself. In other words, given that you would have full-page threaded posts in Groups and those Posts would have inline editing, you would give readership an unexpected to date unprecedented since of empowerment. The ability for people to inline edit content from Time Magazine in threaded discussions via an app would be something a lot of readers would enjoy.

Let me be absolutely clear — I know this sounds a lot like Reddit. That comes more from Reddit being a poorly implemented version of Usenet than it does what I suggest is simply Time Magazine copying Reddit. It seems to me that something like turning Time Magazine into an app is just the thing to not only save the magazine, but “kill” Twitter.

Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.

A Very Out-Of-The Box Vision For Saving SnapChat

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have already mentioned this, but it’s fun to talk about so I’m going to write about it some more. If SnapChat were to re-imagine itself completely in the manner I have suggested, that of turning itself into something akin to a video discussion service with a new text aspect, I think something pretty cool could happen.

Here’s how I would do it.

If it were possible, I would base the new SnapChat on video conferencing. I used the now defunct Blab.im a lot a few years ago and if SnapChat were to leverage its existing user base to go in that direction I think it would reap significant rewards. But there’s a lot I don’t know.

Video would still be at the core of the service, but there would be so much more than that available. The whole point of this new SnapChat would be to get you to have video conferences with your friends that others could watch. It wouldn’t be so much about sending video email to your existing friends as it would be making new friends. That’s a pretty powerful concept, I think. If you had a robust discovery feature you could make all kinds of new friends.

But the point is, there would also be a powerful IRC (AOL Chatroom) text feature in this new service. And threaded Usenet-like post discussions. All of this wouldn’t be rolled out overnight, of course, but you would gradually work towards a completely new vision for SnapChat that I think users would really love. Again, the only reason why I even suggest SnapChat doing this is if it doesn’t innovate and innovate quickly, the whole thing is doomed.

I don’t know if its even technically feasible to do a massive amount of video conferencing in the way I suggest. Blab was never able to get more than, maybe, 100 people in a room to watch a four way video conference, so it may not even be technically possible to get thousands of people watching even a two way video conference. But let’s suppose they used proprietary technology or something.

They would have to expand onto the desktop to truly have this vision become a reality. It would be really cool to have a service whereby you had not only recorded video conferencing with an audience, but a feature rich text environment as well. I have talked at great length about my vision both on this Website and on Instagram. Like, I’ve done thousands of little Instagram videos about this subject. I just take a lot of pictures now, but the videos are still there on my account for better or worse.

The only reason why I even think SnapChat would be interested in such a completely different vision for their service is they’re in serious risk of becoming moot and if they did something really, really dramatic and revolutionary it may be the only way to survive at all. They have the means, motive and opportunity as they say.

They wouldn’t even have to worry that much about their userbase revolting. SnapChat is dying and if they don’t innovate their way out of this deadend, there won’t be much for them to worry about at all in the first place. But whatever. Like I said, I only even wrote about this because it’s interesting.

Mulling How To Share Posts In A Usenet Concept-Based Twitter Killer

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

One thing people have come to expect is the ability to share information they like within a social media environment. With Facebook it’s Sharing, with Twitter it’s Retweeting. With Reddit you can “vote up” content you like.

So, the question is, how would you do this with a Usenet concept-based service. This is an interesting, and crucial, question. You can’t have people vote up posts because that’s a direct rip-off of Reddit and people would see it as such. Meanwhile, Sharing like on Facebook is problematic. The best I can think of right now is some combination of “Starring” and Sharing. You might Star a post you liked, and Share it on your “Wall.” Or something. You would have to think of some way whereby people would feel like they were interacting with the content.

This gets into the whole concept of how you would represent Trending Topics. You would have to do in a dramatically different manner than Twitter and I think you could figure out something. I was thinking a pull-down menu that would be feature rich and give you all kinds of different options that either Twitter already has or are unavailable with Twitter.

Anyway, all of this is moot because I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. But it is interesting to dwell on.

I Am Frustrated With Twitter. We Need A ‘Twitter Killer’ #startup

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I should be going to bed, but I can’t help myself. I keep finding different angles for a Twitter Killer based on Usenet and IRC concepts. The two things put together would be a one-two punch that would fell Twitter and maybe take Reddit along with it.

I say this because Twitter is a complete piece of shit.

It’s barely useful. In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s useful despite itself. I want a service that organizes the huge amount of information that a public service like Twitter generates, but does so in a much more friendly manner than Reddit.

That’s the thing, Reddit is probably closer to what I’m looking for…and yet, I don’t like it. I don’t like it because I want something based directly on Usenet concepts, not watered down. I think young people would be delighted with an updated version of Usenet (at least the version I have come up with) and I also think you could make a lot — a lot — of money.

I say this because as I have thought the service up, you would interact with subjects you were interested in in a self-selecting manner that would allow the service to offer up extremely specific ads that you wouldn’t mind interacting with. At least, that seems the most logical use of the service relative to my vision for it.

I just like the idea that I could go to a specific Group created by a Verified Account holder about this or that topic and there would be a steady stream of people talking about a subject I was interested in. It would be live chat, not the weird delayed discussion that Twitter has. Then, should the owner of the Group post something, we could respond to it with inline editing and a full page.

Now, I debate if that particular aspect of the service is needed. Should anyone be able to start a thread? I just don’t know for sure. It makes more sense for that to be so, and yet. Maybe it should be up to individual Admins. Maybe that would be a feature they could decide upon. That makes the most sense.

I think that would be the answer to a lot of problems — when in doubt make it an option you could access from a pull down menu.

I don’t know anything. Everyone should ignore me. But I do have practical end-user experience with social media so this is just me daydreaming. I am, however, really frustrated with Twitter. Something needs to be done about that. Someone, somewhere, needs to come up with something to replace Twitter. Twitter is so very annoying.

Unpacking Everyday Use Of This Social Media Service Based On Usenet Concepts

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

So, what would it be like to actually use this service on a daily basis?

Well, as I see it, what would happen is something like this. You would log-in to the service and see notifications of what people you follow have posted in your newfeed like feature. It’s possible that if you service grew large enough, you might even be able to limit this to different Groups.

But, in general, there would definitely be a Facebook vibe to it in some respects, only everything you were seeing would largely be from people you had no real-life connection to. You would move those people to Facebook should you meet them in real life.

Anyway, after glancing at that information, you might look up to see who had followed you. People who followed you would get notifications of everything you had contributed to the system. This would be a way to cut through the enormous amount of information pumping through the service, should it grow large enough. But once you got past that, you would look at your newfeed more closely and you would begin to interact with the things you saw there.

One interesting conundrum this service might have is how to implement social media concepts that people have grow used to because of Twitter, Reddit and Facebook. I honestly don’t know how you might favorite or share posts you liked. I just don’t know how that would work out yet. I have to give it more thought. I don’t know what the consequences of all of that would be. But those features would be there in some respect. You would have to be careful not to make the service too much like Reddit, Twitter or Facebook in that respect, but that type of feature is something people have grown to expect so you would have to have it.

Now, one interesting thing is, if you interact with stuff in your newsfeed, does it take you to the Group where it was posted? That’s another question I haven’t answered yet. Might initial thinking is, yes. This whole concept is so strong that that is not too difficult to figure out, especially if someone with some design experience would actually listen to me.

But, as I keep saying, I have no money and no one cares what I have to say, so I’m just mentally jerking off about this obsessively for no other reason than I’ve had too much coffee tonight and I am enjoying writing too much.

Anyway, one interesting question is how you would implement discovery of Groups. My initial gut reaction is there would be a feature rich search feature where you would find Groups through either a keyword or the person associated with them who created the group as part of their Verified Account. So, in a sense, for someone coming from Twitter the end experience would be very similar. But it couldn’t be too similar because, well, you don’t want to get sued.

So, you find a group and you join it. You would follow it like you would a person. You could also, I guess, follow an individual person. That is an interesting aspect of this concept — you could follow a Group and not follow the person who was responsible for its creation.

I really think people would really enjoy a service that was much like Twitter but significantly more feature rich. Or, put another way, this service is designed for people like me who want something like Twitter, but don’t really want to use Reddit, either.

Once you joined a group, you would see inside it a IRC-like stream of live text on a portion of the screen. You would dip in an chat some, and if you really wanted to, you could click on a thread and interact with that content as well.

This is a really strong concept. Too bad I’m not only broke, but about 10 years too late. Typical.

Of Podcasting, Soundcloud & The Music Industry In The Context Of Usenet Concepts

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Now, the reason why I think you could use a service based on the concepts of Usenet and IRC to revolutionize not only the publishing business but music is because if you see these concepts the way I do, then there are any number of use cases you can think up.

So, this post is about the use case of music industry, podcasting and this service.

The interesting thing about this concept when it comes to podcasting and music is it’s a natural fit. If, as part of developing the site, you were to buy Soundcloud on the cheap and integrate it into the service you could do some pretty cool things. I say this because the key to making the service a success is finding different communities to use as source of growth marketing.

Establishing this platform as one where you could discuss podcasts and music would be pretty cool. The entire service would be designed to encourage debate and discussion and pretty much given the passions associated with music would be a perfect fit. People love to talk about music and podcasting and if you made it so you could actually do a podcast native to the service, all the better. Though, because I’m a former user of the now defunct video service known as Blab if I had anything to do with it, I would try to take things to the next step and use video as much as possible.

But imagine Pod Save America dropping on the service. There would be a Crooked Media post beneath the podcast and people could inline edit that content in a threaded discussion as well as have an archive live-text chat about it as well. This is pretty powerful stuff on a conceptual level, if nothing else. While I’m sure these concepts are floating about here and there, I can’t think of a site like the one I imagine that would do it all in one place seamlessly.

Or the latest hip-hop video drops and you get to not only watch the video, but get a full-page ad for merch and tickets to venues where the performer in the video is going to sing. That’s pretty cool, I think. And because people are interested in this content in the first place, they won’t mind that they’re interacting with an enormous ad while they talk about the music.

It seems pretty obvious that EDM would be the perfect subculture to promote this service to at first for no other reason than they have a huge amount of passion and they would love the ability to talk about venues and music and what not. Now, I know there are probably plenty of sites that already exist that allow them to do just that, but I like to think the service I’ve come up with would be so cool as to draw at least a sizable amount of those people to the service.

But, as I said, no one cares what I have to say. This is just daydreaming. I will grow tired of it soon enough, but for the time being it’s relaxing to look at this concept from different angles.

Monetizing A Social Media Service Based On The Concepts Of Usenet & IRC

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

So, the real question is, how would this service that I keep writing about make money?

That is the point of all of this.

I would say the crux of monetizing this service would be the thing that makes it different than Twitter or Reddit on a fundamental level. Neither Twitter nor Reddit gives me the basic ability to have a threaded post that’s an entire page. Because of the distributed system of Usenet, it was nearly impossible to use what could have been a strength in the manner that people wanted to use. Also, the fact that Usenet effectively years before broadband and the modern Web had much to do with it.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, it is quite curious that if you give it some thought, we’ve made a huge step backwards in online discussion in the last 20 years. It’s very curious. I believe if you were to strike with a discussion service that used the concepts of Usenet and IRC in a way designed to make money you could make a huge amount of it. Like, Facebook money.

I say this because if you look at it the way I look at this situation it’s obvious. Imagine a site where you can seamlessly integrate full-page, targeted ads inside online discussion in a manner that people don’t even realize that they’re engaged with it because they’re so interested in whatever is being sold. This is really cool, especially if you work on the assumption that you will, much like Facebook, learn a huge amount about your user base as things progress.

Not that they’re won’t be problems. There probably will be plenty, but if you design a site from the ground up that both wants to be a discussion platform and an advertising platform the engagement will be so high that you would eventually be making money hand over fist. It just makes total sense. The concept I’ve come up with fixes most of the problems of both Twitter and Reddit in a manner that people won’t mind that they’re getting a nearly constant stream of enormous targeted ads.

It’s too bad no one is listening to me and I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. But it’s fun to talk about, that’s for sure.

The Specifics Of Integrating IRC & Usenet Concepts In A New Social Media Service

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Now, I am well aware that social media now has zero buzz in Silicon Valley. All this writing I’m doing about this subject is pointless and no one is listening. But for me, personally, it’s relaxing and I enjoy exploring the topic for myself if no one else.

So, how exactly would you integrate two really addictive 20 year concepts — IRC and Usenet — in a seamless manner that would not only keep people coming back, but make a lot of money?

Well, I have given it a lot of thought and I think the best way to do it is like this: you’d have an IRC channel devoted to a Group and an IRC channel devoted to a thread. This is how you do it — on the quarter or so of your screen would be an IRC like channel devoted to the Group’s topic, while once the owner of the group — a verified account holder — started a thread, on about a quarter of the right of the screen would be a live stream of text devoted to that particular thread.

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that a thread could only be started by a verified account holder. That fixes a lot of problems when it comes to newbies and morons posting stupid shit to a group. It would be a way to manage who posts what to a group in a somewhat subtle manner. There might be some bitching about this at first, but I think people would get used to it.

I really like the concept, if nothing else.

Of course, there is the issue of how these two IRC-like channels would be displayed across the service. That is an interesting problem that I doubt is too difficult to overcome. It’s stuff like that which is fun to mull over when you’re a boring job for a few hours.