Blogging and the future of USENET

I've been making occasional posts to this blog for almost 2
years now – I started at the beginning of March 2002. At that time,
I was about as enthused about the publishing capabilities of Radio
as I probably am today with

FrontPage 2003
. Last year, I moved from Radio to my own
somewhat simple blog engine written in .NET against a SQL Server
database. Although what I have is much more basic than I could get
using one of the more established .NET blogging engines, I learned
a lot from the exercise of putting mine together. I notice that

Don Box posted recently
to the same effect, and I'm keen to see
what insights Don brings as he goes through this process again.

My goal in keeping a blog was to help myself keep track of
things I'd found and to be able to go back and search for them
later, a sort of online notebook. From time to time now I can think
"I know I read something about that before and I must have blogged
it." Then I do a site search and it helps me find what I need. The
fact that anyone else might be interested enough to read what I
write was sort of a bonus really.

During the last 2 years, keeping track of the various blogs I
read, and hence the use of an aggregator, has become an integral
part of my professional life. Keeping up-to-date with what is new
in the .NET development community has become much easier given the
number of bloggers in this area. So much so, in fact, that I rarely
drop into any NNTP news groups any longer. However, I frequently
use Google Groups to
search for people who might be having a particular problem I'm
experiencing and, even better, to find others who have posted
solutions. Whilst doing a normal web search on Google does
sometimes find answers, there seems to be a much higher noise level
than the results I get from Usenet searches. The problem, though,
is that this suggests a potential imbalance.

If more and more people stop posting in news groups and start
keeping blogs, and more and more people post answers either in
comments or in their own blogs, then the usefulness of Google
Groups looks set to diminish, at least for people in those
communities. On the other hand, web searches won't quite be so
specific. It would be nice if Google had a blogs tab, but how to
identify a site that is actually a blog? Maybe they could index
syndication feeds (RSS and the like) and somehow link these through
the permalinks to the actual pages that contain the content,
flagging these pages as suitable for the "blog search". Sure, there
are a hell of a lot of people blogging about things that you
probably don't want to search for, and lots of news sites that
aren't really blogs, but it might be a nice experiment to see what
value there could be in such a search tool.