FidoNET was popular in the pre-Internet days as a way for individual electronic bulletin boards to hook up and exchange messages. If I remember correctly, it works by having computers in the network that are geographically local to each other call each other and exchange data. There is order to the system, in that a system only calls certain other systems, so that data can be sent over long distances, and doesn’t just move around randomly. Prior to the public accessibility of the Internet, FidoNET provided a way to send e-mail and other messages without making expensive long distance calls to faraway computers.
Apparently FidoNET is still in use in places where Internet access isn’t very good and local phone calls are still more reliable. FidoNET has been connected with Internet e-mail for quite some time — when I first got on the ‘net in the pre-WWW days of 1993, I can recall fidonet.org addresses being somewhat common.
It’s cool, still, to see FidoNET hook up with other web-based messaging systems that would otherwise be out of reach for the system. The web, as a whole, is largely out of reach, primarily because a FidoNET user connects to only one other computer–a FidoNET BBS–which is not connected to a live network, and so can only store cached information and data.
As should be obvious, it would be nearly impossible for most BBSs, run on basic commodity PCs, to cache the entirety of the web, never mind the fact that a lot of the cached info would go stale really quickly.
These sorts of applications force us to question the notion of obsolescence, and refocus on the notion of utility rather than cutting edge fashion.