For many people, Usenet was the Internet before Web 2.0 came along. The real wild wild west of cyberspace. It was always a free space, at least in the alt. heirarchy, where anything could happen. From the mundane to the bizarre, Usenet created a plaform for Freedom of Speech and still is home to many fringe groups, a lot more expansive than just news and binaries. Groups like alt.culture.zippies, for example, seeded the Open Source Movement and started the Linux craze. It is therefore fitting that with Ubuntu, there is the still ample room for developers to improve on the Usenet experience.
Since Usenet is based up0n subject heirarchies not topic postings, it gives one a far greater overview than a simple rss feed. Subject tags have not managed to propogate in the same way as usenet subject heirarchies. When I want information on a subject I start off with the broader subject catagory and move from there, like a tree. Tags are way too random for research and generating news. It is therefore only a matter of course before we all realise the old usenet heiararchy had an essential ingredient, and subject heirarchies are going to be the basis for the next wave.
One of the newsreaders available via the repos is the decidely first wave Pan
sudo apt-get install pan
The reader comes prepacked with the gmane server, which is basically a mailing list aggregator. Make sure you fill out your email address in order to get a list of newgroups. If you want the real deal and the full Usenet list then try any one of the public servers available.
Pan is in need of an icon makeover I believe. Just a couple of things to provide the app with personality.
Another option is tin, which is a CLI newsreader which could do with a front-end. Also available via the synaptic.
Despite the prevalence of many supposedly free and public Usenet servers, users in developing countries may still experience difficulty gaining access and posting, especially on local bandwidth. The problems of censorship abound. Furthermore, Pan does not have proxy support and is only maintained by one developer. Time perhaps to update Usenet with an encrypted protocol?