In This Chapter:
The Internet is all about communication. So it should be no surprise that one of its earliest uses was public discussion boards, which allow people to have conversations about any topic you can imagineand many topics you probably can't imagine.
The mother of all discussion boards is called Usenet, which is a vast collection of thousands of discussions organized by topic. Each of these discussions is called a newsgroup. These newsgroups continue to be popular today. But they have one drawbackthey're not particularly easy to use. In fact, they can be downright intimidating. You need a special piece of software to read and respond to them, called a newsgroup reader. And even with that software, newsgroups are not that easy to use.
Newsgroup An Internet-based discussion board. Thousands of newsgroups are available, and you can read them using Google Groups.
Enter Google Groups.Google Groups give you an easy way to read any newsgroup straight from the Web or even through email. And in addition to newsgroups, Google has added discussion groups of its own. Anyone can set up her own Google Group for private or public discussions of any topic she wants.
So if you want to participate in the discussions on any topic you've ever been interested in, read this chapterand get prepared to yak.
Google calls many of its services beta, which typically means that a service is in a test phase. But Google uses that term very liberally, and labels services as being in beta even after they've been around for a year or more.