ftp archives disappearing?

Adam Goldman adamg at pobox.com
Mon Mar 12 16:45:04 CDT 2007

The Internet used to have a number of useful features that it no longer
does today -- for example, the finger and talk protocols. These protocols
no longer exist on the Internet, mostly due to valid security reasons.

As an example of how 'talk' differs from today's instant messaging systems,
one time I was having trouble with some Internet site -- maybe their
FTP server was down or something, I don't remember. I fingered the host,
found an active user, and 'talk'ed him. He was happy to fill me in on what
was up.

You can't do that any more.

And if you could, it would surely be abused into oblivion by spammers
and phishers.

Usenet, which is decentralized, requires no access credentials, and has
a programmatic interface that allows for sophisticated filtering and
offline reading, has largely been displaced by the network prisons
known as web forums, which require a separate account for each forum,
have a clunky and slow user interface, and are prone to vanishing
when their operator loses interest.

In general, Internet services which were designed to be accessed
programmatically have been replaced with Web services which can only
be used manually.

On the other hand: HTTP actually isn't that bad as a replacement for FTP,
except that uploads are much harder. There's also the problem of machine
parsing the directory listings, but FTP had that problem too, to some extent.

And the network itself is much faster and more reliable than it used to be.

-- Adam

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