Google Groups is very versatile online tool that you can use to find people with similar interests, organize meetings or stay in touch with friends. The latest update to Google Groups makes it easier than ever to share posts and participate in discussions [source: Google]. Setting up your own group is easy. In order to get started and become a group manager in Google Groups, you must first set up your own Gmail account. Once your Gmail account is active, you can access groups from the toolbars on the Gmail page. The next step is determining which type of group you are interested in forming: public, announcement-only or restricted.
Public access groups are groups where all information is posted publicly. Anyone can read any of the information posted by members of the group. The only people who can add information are group members. Announcement-only groups are more restricted. While group members can go to the group to receive information, they cannot add content. The group manager is the only person who can add content. Restricted groups are very private groups. Only members of the group can read or search for them. The groups do not show up in searches, and members must be personally invited by the group manager. Once you decide which type of group you want, you'll invite people to join via an e-mail invitation.
What is today called "Google Groups" has a long history on the Internet, even before Google existed. That's because the newsgroups presented and archived on Google Groups are the modern-day ancestors of the venerable Usenet, the discussion system created in the early 1980s by university graduate students. The system distributed its workload among multiple servers instead of just one machine and was a precursor to what we today call "forums." In 2001, Google purchased the Usenet archive service Dejanews from Deja.com. Dejanews provided a comfortable Web browser-based front-end for people to search and read all of the newsgroups in the Usenet hierarchy. Paradoxically, though, as the Web gained in popularity and Web sites proliferated in the early 1990s, Usenet lost much of its steam [source: Stellin]. It's just another example of the speed with which things tend to change on the Internet.
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