Microsoft Finds New Uses for Usenet

Researchers at Microsoft are working on technology that makes it easier to navigate Usenet news groups and could eventually help clear clutter in e-mail inboxes, a Microsoft researcher said Tuesday. A Microsoft concept called the Community.Net Server takes a new approach to displaying Usenet groups and message threads, making it easier for users to pick a relevant group, cutting out spam and displaying the most active threads first. The concept is for Usenet groups, but can be extended to e-mail, Microsoft Research Sociologist Marc Smith said in a presentation at Microsoft's Mountain View, California, campus.

Usenet is a giant, distributed database of discussion groups, called news groups, that predates the World Wide Web. Postings in the tens of thousands of groups can be read with a Web browser or with reader software such as Microsoft's Outlook Express. Typically Usenet groups are listed alphabetically in a reader, group information is limited to basics such as the number of messages, and message data is limited to message size, poster name, and time and date of posting. "We need tools that will help us better discover and use online communities. The interface to a social space was designed by some of the most antisocial people in the world," Smith said. "You want to see more metadata about these communities, [such as] how many people are in there and come back."

News source: Yahoo News!

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