Computer underground Digest Thu Jan 06 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 03
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer ([email protected]
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe (BEST WISHES, BK)
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Copy Rarifier: Ayn Stein
CONTENTS, #6.03 (Jan 06 1994)
File 1--Article from local paper on Brendan's Accident
File 2--Brendan Kehoe hospitalization update
File 3-- Re: Brendan Kehoe Seriously Hurt in Car Accident
File 4--The Internet Explosion (Network News Roundup)
File 5--BBS Sysops who rape handicapped people
File 6--Anarchy Gone Awry (Re: CuD 5.91) #3
File 7--Anarchy Gone Awry (Re: CuD 5.91) #2
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Date: Thu, 6 Jan 94 0:47:17 EST
From: Bob Kupiec
Subject: File 1--Article from local paper on Brendan's Accident
((MODERATORS' NOTE: In a previous CuD, a typo named the town at
"Newton," not "Newtown." The Newtown police gave us the spelling of
"Rightstown" instead of "Wrightstown." The following article
corrects the errors)).
I've included an article, below, that contains mostly info that is
already known, but I just thought you'd might like to see it anyway.
Here is an article from today's (1/5/94) Bucks County Courier Times:
"California man hospitalized after crash
Upper Makefield, PA - A California man remained hospitalized yesterday
for injuries sustained in a two-car crash at Eagle and Wrightstown
Brendan, Kehoe, 23, of Palo Alto, Calif., was in fair condition
yesterday in the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, where he was
flown by MedEvac helicopter Friday.
A passenger, Sven Heinicke, 24, of Eagle Road in the township, was
treated at Saint Mary Hospital in Middletown and released Saturday.
The driver of the other vehicle, Cory Stanton, 32 of Lawrenceville,
N.J., also was treated at Saint Mary Hospital and released.
Police said Kehoe, who was headed south on Eagle Road, will be cited
for failing to observe a stop sign."
Date: 5 Jan 1994 16:59:25 -0500
From: [email protected] (Stanton McCandlish)
Subject: File 2--Brendan Kehoe hospitalization update
((MODERATORS' NOTE: Although posted on 5 Jan (Weds), the following is
the latest update (as of Thurs, 17:50) from cygnus. Updates can be
obtained with the finger command:
finger [email protected])
Latest update! Good news for once, too.
PS: in case of net.difficulty getting to the finger address below, try
finger [email protected], which should have the same info.
From--"Pat McGregor" ([email protected])
Date--Wed, 05 Jan 1994 13:35:02 -0800
updated 5 January 1994 1:00pm PST
Brendan Kehoe, author of ZEN AND THE ART OF THE INTERNET, and a Cygnus
Support engineer, was critically injured in an automobile accident in
Pennsylvania on Friday, 31 December, 1993. The full extent of his
injuries cannot be assessed for another two weeks or so, according to
his doctors. Brendan was moved out of the ICU Monday, and is
Jeff Osier, Brendan's housemate and a co-worker, who is with the
We went over to the hospital late this morning, around lunchtime, and
found Brendan sitting up, feeding himself solid food. This is a HUGE
step even from yesterday, when the nurse was feeding him jell-o for
the first time. He recognized me and remembered that I was there even
when he looked away for a moment.. another huge step for someone whose
attention span was about 2 seconds yesterday morning. He's been
talking occasinally as well; last night he said my name when he saw
me, and today said "hey, dude". His mom leaned down to kiss him ad
said "I love you," and he said "I love you, too," and kissed her back.
This is something of a miracle.. many thanks to those of you who are
praying! Keep it up, it works.
We can only hope that most of his incredible intellect returns to him
so that he can continue to share it with all of us. I want to say
thanks to all of you for your help and support; to quote Brendan (from
Zen), I'm proud to call you my friends. His family is very, very
grateful as well.
Cards and other items may be sent to him at:
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Founders' Building, Room 579
3400 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
The CuD folks are collating email messages for Brendan: instructions
are: We urge readers to send him a card. We will be collecting the
notes that come in wishing him well via e-mail, and send them to him
in about two weeks. So, if you want to send him an E-note, send it to
us ([email protected]) with the subject header: TO BRENDAN
A fund to help with the expected medical expenses is being
established; watch this space for information on how to contribute.
(MODERATOR COMMENT: The Cu Digest editors are encouraging netfolk to
send electronic messages to him that include a joke, funny story, or a
"get-well" recipe. The editors will accecpt e-mail contributions
until about January 19. Then, we'll print the responses on rag-bond
paper, bind them, and send them to him as a "net anthology."
Send notes to: [email protected] with the subject header:
Jim Thomas / Gordon Meyer CuD Editors
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 94 12:08:55 EST
From: Carl Moore
Subject: File 3-- Re: Brendan Kehoe Seriously Hurt in Car Accident
Some of you may remember reading that Jan Berry (singer, and the
"Jan" of Jan and Dean) was seriously injured, with brain damage,
in a 1966 automobile accident not far from "Dead Man's Curve".
He had go through long therapy, and I have personally seen him
twice in concert with Dean in the last 13 years.
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 1994 19:20:34 -0600 (CST)
From: Czar Donic
Subject: File 4--The Internet Explosion (Network News Roundup)
From--VAX1::MCDONALD "Gary Lee McDonald" 4-JAN-1994 14:26:51.36
Subj-- 1993 Network news roundup
The Uniform Resource Locator for this document is:
3 January 1994
The explosive growth of the Internet, both in services and
subscribers, was probably the single biggest Net story of 1993.
Growing pains included traffic jams, commercialism on the Net,
changing government and business roles, and a culture clash
between the Net anarchists and pragmatists. The Internet
widened its scope to include government documents such the
Clinton Health Care Plan, National Public Radio, and an
exclusive release of a new Stephen King book.
And now, the stories...
JUNK MAIL, ONLINE STYLE. A Wall Street Journal article
sideswiped advertising on the Internet in an article headlined
"Internet to Get Hit with Ad Clutter." Tim O'Reilly of the
Global Network Navigator, a new online publication funded by
ad revenue, responded, "The point is that with GNN, what
information a customer retrieves is entirely under his or her
control. With hypertext technology, you follow the links you're
interested in, and only the articles you want to read are
actually transferred over the Net from the server to your
WWW client. People on the Net don't want unsolicited
advertising, but they do want to be able to retrieve information
that they are looking for -- and that includes commercial
information as well as free information."
YOU CAN'T SAY THAT ON THE INTERNET. Censorship
has hit the Internet, where battles over free speech are being
waged on several fronts. Colleges in Canada have banned all
electronic discussions of sex, and controversy is raging stateside
over a program that automatically wipes out anonymous
messages and about the suspension of a California professor
who ran a BBS that carried messages harassing a female
student. Congress has even gone so far as to order a study of
whether bulletin boards, on-line services and cable TV are
being used to encourage "crimes of hate." (Wall Street Journal
NSF RELEASES PLAN FOR INTERNET. The National
Science Foundation released its long-awaited plan for Internet
restructuring. Under the proposal, the government will phase
out regional network subsidies and direct those funds to colleges
to pay network fees. The backbone of the system, which will
be three times faster than what exists today, will be privately
managed under federal contract. Following the government's
announcement of plans to change the way it subsidizes Internet
users, eight regional networks formed a for-profit company, the
Corporation for Regional and Enterprise Networking (CoREN).
(Chronicle of Higher Education 5/26/93, 6/9/93)
NPR ON THE INTERNET. NPR's "Talk of the Nation" show
debuted over the Internet May 21. Some 400 computer
listeners queued up to talk back to host Ira Flatow, and
hundreds of others sent e-mail. Carl Malamud, Flatow's guest
and founder of Internet Multicasting Corp., also distributes his
own show, "Geek of the Week", the independently produced
"TechNation", National Press Club luncheon speeches, and
"Internet Town Hall." (Current 5/31/93 p.1)
RURAL DATAFICATION. CICNet Inc., provider of Internet
access and services in the Upper Midwest, received a $1.3
million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant award that
they will use to launch the "CICNet Rural Datafication
Project." This ambitious, non-profit undertaking will bring the
Internet to rural areas and under-served communities where
expertise and money are often in short supply, but enthusiasm
and interest are not. (GNN News 12/20)
GLOBAL NETWORK NAVIGATOR. The Global Network
Navigator (GNN) is a free Internet-based information center
that is initially available as a quarterly offered by O'Reilly
Publishing. GNN consists of a regular news service, an online
magazine, The Whole Internet Interactive Catalog, and a global
marketplace containing information about products and services.
To subscribe send mail to: [email protected]
INTERNET GETS SCARY. A short story from a new
collection by horror writer Stephen King is available through
the Internet, the first time a commercial book publisher has
published an electronic first serial. It appears through the
Online Bookstore (508-546-7346); users can search, browse, or
read the story on their screens or download a copy for a fee
of $5/hour or $5/download. (Publishers Weekly, 9/27, p. 12)
The Internet Index: Facts and Figures for '93
Compiled by Win Treese ([email protected])
Annual rate of growth for Gopher traffic: 997%
Annual rate of growth for World-Wide Web traffic: 341,634%
Average time between new networks connecting to the Internet:
Number of newspaper and magazine articles about the Internet
during the first nine months of 1993: over 2300
Number of on-line coffeehouses in San Francisco: 18. Cost
for four minutes of Internet time at those coffeehouses: $0.25
Date of first known Internet mail message sent by a head of
state: 2 March 1993 (Sent by Bill Clinton, President of the
Date on which first Stephen King short story published via the
Internet before print publication: 19 Sept 1993
Number of mail messages carried by IBM's Internet gateways in
January, 1993: about 340,000
Number of mail messages carried by Digital's Internet gateways
in June, 1993: over 700,000
Advertised network numbers in July, 1993: 13,293; Advertised
network numbers in July, 1992: 5,739
Date after which more than half the registered networks were
commercial: August, 1991
Number of Internet hosts in Norway, per 1000 population: 5
Number of Internet hosts in United States, per 1000 population:
Number of Internet hosts in July, 1993: 1,776,000
Round-trip time from Digital CRL to mcmvax.mcmurdo.gov in
McMurdo, Antartica: 640 milliseconds
Number of hops: 18
Number of USENET articles posted on a typical day in
February, 1993: 35,000
Number of megabytes posted: 44
Number of users posting: 80,000
Number of sites represented: 25,000
Number of Silicon Valley real estate agencies advertising with
Internet mail addresses: 1
Terabytes carried by the NSFnet backbone in February, 1993: 5
Number of countries reachable by electronic mail: 137 (approx.)
Number of countries not reachable by electronic mail: 99
Number of countries on the Internet: 60
Amount of time it takes for Supreme Court decisions to
become available on the Internet: less than one day.
Date of first National Public Radio program broadcast
simultaneously on the Internet: 21 May 1993
Percent of Boardwatch Top 100 BBS systems with Internet
Number of people on the Internet who know you're a dog: 0
Keywords: Internet, roundup
to 1993 News Roundup.
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 1994 00:01:16 -0600
From: TELECOM Moderator
Subject: File 5--BBS Sysops who rape handicapped people
So after a hiatus of several months of not reading CuD, I get back on
the mailing list and find little gems like this one:
> The UPI wire service reported that Medford, Massechusetts resident
> Alden L. Baker Jr. was indicted Wednesday for distributing child
> pornography from his computer bulletin board, "Boston's Eagle's Nest."
> US Attorney Donald K. Stern said, "The use of computerized 'bulletin
> board' systems which distribute pornographic images to members
> throughout the country are particularly deserving of our vigorous
Please note the selective editing by someone here ... AUSA Stern's
comment was " ... which distribute pornographic images of children
throughout the country ... "
Who left out the 'of children' part?
Then this comment followed from Bob Chatelle:
> [email protected] (Bob B Chatelle)
> Subject--Feds Bust Boston-area Gay BBS
> Date--Thu, 16 Dec 1993 22:17:56 GMT
> According to today's Boston Herald, Federal prosecutors have arrested
> the sysop of a local gay BBS called the Boston Eagle's Nest and
> charged him with distributing child pornography. The sysop is facing
> ten years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
> Busting gay boards is SOP for the Feds here in the Boston area.
Since when is child pornography and/or child molestation automatically
associated with being 'gay' or having a 'gay BBS' ?
That's not to say one can't be gay and a pedophile at the same time;
there are such people but the two don't automatically go together and
I don't think the federal government is trying to say that they do.
Either Mr. Baker did what he is accused of or he did not; a judge and/
or jury -- his option -- will make the decision. Judging however from
his previous conviction for raping the handicapped person, it seems
reasonable to assume that perhaps there is some truth to the latest
allegations against him.
> During the summer of 1992, they busted a very fine board called Doug's
> Den, which I very much miss. Doug's Den was busted on the usual bogus
> kiddie-porn charges. (I downloaded enough porn from Doug's Den to
> know that the charges were false.)
> I'm sure that the charges against the Eagle's Nest are just as phony
> as the charges against Doug's Den.
Why? What makes you so sure? Are you aware of the allegations of the
police that when they searched Baker's home they found explicit examples
of child pornography? Surely you know that possession of child porn
is in and of itself a violation of the law. The Supreme Court has
ruled that child pornography has no First Amendment protections.
> The intent is to close down the boards and discourage other boards
> from operating -- or at least from exercising their First Amendment
Child pornography has no First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court
has so stated.
> I'm curious about how many gay boards all over the country Janet Reno
> and her stormtroopers are shutting down. Any info will be greatly
I'm curious about how so many gay people all over the USA were tricked
into voting for the worthless and decietful Bill Clinton to begin with.
Remember how when I put up messages before his election saying people
should not vote for him I (and lots of other folks) were accused of
being 'homophobic' ... god, I *loved* that word, it was such a gas ...
too bad I have not heard it much lately ... but aside from the fact
that Clinton is the worst disaster ever in the White House and by
extension that entire hot team of his/hers is not much good either,
I don't think he or Janet Reno is so stupid they assume 'gay' = 'pedophile'.
You can leave that equation to Pat Robertson and the far right.
Then 'anonymous by request' (isn't it great to see a person who has
the courage to sign his name to his beliefs?) passes along a message
by someone who posted in comp.org.eff.talk 'where a discussion is
in progress' ...
(there followed then a report from the Boston Globe).
Of particular interest from that report:
> Alden J. Baker Jr, 44, who is serving a 6- 10 year term in Gardner
> State prison for raping his limousine driver, now faces a 187-count
> indictment for sexual exploitation of minors.
> [ 10 paragraphs of stuff about how BBS's are trucking porno on the
> information highway, and advertising and selling memberships,
Admittedly probably a lot of nonsense. Probably some truth mixed with
a lot of false stuff.
> Medford police began to investigate Baker about three years ago,
> when a 31-year-old, emotionally handicapped man walked into the police
> station and charged that Baker had raped him.
I imagine it took a lot of courage for this fellow to come forward and
say what had happened.
Well, I know the fact that a discussion is going on in comp.org.eff.talk
is not indicative of what position EFF may or may not take or whether or
not they will choose to provide counsel to the defendant, but I certainly
hope they wash their hands of this case and do not get involved. I've
a feeling though they will get right in the middle of it and try to make
it into a free speech/First Amendment thing. That's the way they are;
they are so much like the ACLU it is pathetic. Two peas in a pod, and
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1993 07:45:20 -0700 (MST)
Subject: File 6--Anarchy Gone Awry (Re: CuD 5.91) #3
((MODERATORS' COMMENT: This general topic has degenerated into
frivolousness on a few other newsgroups. There are, however,
some serious issues in the net/anarchy topic. CuD will run
serious responses. Flames, alt.wierdness, and ravings will
A response to L. Detweiler's "Anarchy Gone Awry"
It is clear that there are a lot of variations in the definition of the
word "Anarchy" on the net. I like the definition that you quoted from
author Bruce Sterling. It is exactly this undefined and unregimented
quality that makes the net such a productive environment for the exchange
of ideas. These same qualities are important for the practical development
of such ideas, and the net has unparalleled value as a tool for education
> In my view, to the contrary the Internet is largely
> held together with the glue of social cohesion and human
> civility, and ingredients that are destructive to that
> order are likewise toxic to Cyberspace, and that,
> conversely, virtually all of the excruciating poison in
> the bloodstream today can be traced to violations and
> perversions of that trust.
The definition of Anarchy that I subscribe to is very well defined by the
first part of your sentence. People are basically good, and all they need
to remain good is a seat in a "community" of some sort. Communities that
do not require basic standards of courtesy and respect do not last very
long; they fold in on themselves as members destroy relationships and head
off in other directions. Likewise, communities that are too strictly
regimented drive off members who find the costs to their individuality and
self-esteem too high to tolerate.
We have all participated in newsgroups or mailing lists that took an ugly
turn. It can be very disappointing when this happens, but if you stick
around, things usually return to center--or the facility goes away. You
can even locate sympathetic former members who will help console you in
Likewise, each node on the Internet is a community. Each has certain
standards of behavior and those standards are further informed by the
relationship between the node and it's carrier. All of these
relationships are formal at a "local" level, but are quite informal in a
hierarchical sense. This is part of a definition of Anarchy that is not
generally accepted in this country; I submit that the anarchy I am
promoting is defined by an absence of formal, imposed, hierarchy.
> ...the Internet has been over-promoted as `anarchic' by
> certain subversive, quasi-criminal segments that have
> found a tenacious hold there, namely extremist
> libertarians and `Cryptoanarchists'.
My interests are not criminal. Nor are they extremist. Yes, there are
"antisocial" elements here, as there are anywhere else. The question of
how we deal with criminal or antisocial acts, as individuals and as
communities, is a very important one. As the communities of the Internet
are working through these issues there are a number of other concerns,
o how can a 'network' guard against takeover
by an overzealous government or criminal
o how can we insure an emergency communications
capability in the case of a political or
o how can resources best be applied to education,
public or otherwise.
Once upon a time the communications systems that we now refer to as "The
Media" were a public system. The FCC defines the airwaves as a public
trust, granted by license from the people, in exchange for a promise to
uphold certain standards of wholesomeness and to practice generally in the
"public interest". Mr. Detweiler, when I monitor my television and radio,
I do not see what I consider a reasonable rendition of "the public trust"
being exercised. With the possible exception of NPR, PBS and CSPAN, the
communications being carried out on these systems are very narrowly
limited to commercial objectives. It is obvious without much reflection
that the result of this narrowly defined regulation is bland programming,
the suppression of challenging ideas, and the loss of a diversity of
representation. The whole system is designed around a "comfort factor".
They hesitate to introduce any material that might be offensive to viewers
In the anarchy of the net I see a great potential for a new media that is
truly democratic, truly interactive, and truly productive. Where each
member is a "participant" rather than a mere "viewer".
> While some of us have glimpsed various hideous
> corners of Cyberspatial Hell, those who subscribe
> to the Liberating Religion of Anarchy are in
> their Paradise on the Internet As We Know It.
> I call their Utopia a Ticking Time Bomb and a
> Recipe for an Apocalypse.
> I have come to these (admittedly melodramatic)
> conclusions after ~10 months and ~3500 messages
> of generally unpleasant and at times
> excruciatingly troubling and painful reading
> and participation on the Cypherpunks list and
> many personal communications with the Cypherpunk
I applaud your concern and your interest in learning about what is going
on in those "hideous corners". But I think that you should ask, in all
honesty, if your explorations would have been possible on a centrally
controlled "Internet". Social activism of the kind that you are practicing
does not take place in an environment where a central authority--be it an
agency, board, commission, president--whatever, regulates the activities
and even the "exposure" of members.
I like your idea for a Ratings server. But I probably like the idea for
entirely different reasons than you do. I see this as a very effective
tool for individuals and communities to fine-tune access to their
interests. A teacher could use this mechanism to locate specific materials
for teaching. A student could use it to track down research materials. A
service provider could monitor the Ratings server for references that
would be of interest to clients. A sysop could check for references to a
service provided on his or her system in response to complaints from the
community or in response to a request for a special service. Likewise,
agencies or individuals who are investigating potential criminal activity
could use the server to gather information.
> The fantastic possibilities of this system are
> evident upon some reflection and consideration.
> We could establish arbitrary new groups that have
> *formal* requirements that are matched by Ratings
> servers. [...] We could require that membership in
> certain groups requires a certain amount of
> collateral peer approval, with automatic suspen-
> sion or expulsion as the consequences for
> violating it! ... We could restrict the influence
> of troublemakers! ...
I support your conclusions--to a point! I am frustrated with the signal to
noise ration on the television set. I only have three controls at my
disposal: MUTE, CHANNEL, and OFF. On the internet, the controls available
to me are almost infinite. I can even craft my own! The important
distinction is that I am a _participant_. I can make my own choices about
what I see, and the choices available are not established by consensus but
by interest. I can create or contribute to a program that interests me. I
don't want ANY "automatic" controls whatsoever!
> Note that there is no centralized authority or
> unfair influence in this system, unless people
> corrupt their servers.
While you are certainly correct in the sense that the server would not be
physically centralized, you do not address the question of the Ratings
server becoming an Ideologically central control on participation. The
second part of your statement is ignored by your argument--but could have
dire implications for individual liberties at a community level. De-facto
Majority rule has every bit as much potential for injustice as
"dictatorship". I refer you to the history of the Third Reich.
(That was my final and only melodramatic contribution |:-} ) I would urge
you and readers of your essay to consider whether the right questions are
being asked. Again, I support the idea of a Ratings server, although the
name could stand some work. At present the net is being molded by a number
of new influences. Businesses, both large and small are moving in. Many of
these are interested in the net as common carrier. Government is moving
towards a VERY active role in the regulation and development of the
Internet. And people are pouring onto the net in numbers that could not
have been anticipated just two years ago. There are other influences, but
these are the most visible right now. What are the potential influences of
these interests? Could any or all of them have the effect of stifling
freedom on the net? Business might like to limit competition for bandwidth
by exercising a right to "filter" in the "Public interest". Government
would almost certainly like to keep a tight grip on any activity that
might be considered criminal or subversive. And the people; well, many
will be confused for a time. There will be some stumbling around and a
decreased signal-to-noise ratio for obvious reasons. That famous vocal
minority will also be there, looking to sanitize the net. This will only
encourage the arguments of business and government to regulate activities
and participation on the net.
> I fervently hope that the glorifications and
> manipulations of Internet Anarchy by mouth-
> frothing libertarian extremists, Cryptoanarchists,
> and sympathizers can be adequately controlled and
> minimized in the future, and some harmonious
> systems and effective countermeasures along the
> lines of the Rating server can be established by
> visionaries and tinkerers, but in any case, for
> the sake of humanity's integrity, sanity, and
> well-being, I pray that Future Cyberspace is far
> less Anarchic than the Current Internet.
Many "visionaries" start out their careers as "mouth-frothing
extremists", at least as far as their "peer review groups" are concerned.
Only the perspective of hindsight can define what has value and what is
noise. Harmonious systems are boring and static. They have a tendency to
aim for the lowest common denominator. We have quite enough of this in our
other "established" media systems.
I think that the question you should be asking is, how can we preserve
the individual voice--the free exchange of ideas--in an environment that
is quickly evolving into an important domain for "The Big Boys?"
Date: 7 Dec 1993 16:39:52 GMT
From: [email protected](Stephen Williams)
Subject: File 7--Anarchy Gone Awry (Re: CuD 5.91) #2
[email protected] wrote:
: I would like to say only that Mr. L. Detweiler lacks subtlety in his methods
: of meme propagation. His long winded advertisement for what he calls
: " our *own* cyberspace government" serves only to aggravate the opinions of
: those who he attacks, and probably will have little effect on the opinions of
: those yet uninformed of these matters, or those who have no strong opinions
: as yet.
And for that, we can be glad.
: Cyberspace is a medium of information.
: governing information is called "Censorship"(can you say censorship, boys and
: therefore, a government in cyberspace can only result in censorship.
: This is a Bad Thing(tm).
: Signing off and Heading for the Tub,
: [email protected]
I agree with you, but I did 'post' the following to cypherpunks and
cypherwonks yesterday. Recasting his totalitarian version of an idea
I had independantly a few months ago might be worth something.
Please forgive the quoting and slight flaming as this is meant to be a
complete meme. Note that I will be implementing this shortly.
I'm not sure, yet, if I want to agree with this guy to any amount, but
this idea, recast into a safe form that doesn't get out of control,
might be a good idea. I thought of it as a way to get K-12
students/schools connected 'safely'.
> Computer underground Digest Sun Dec 5 1993 Volume 5 : Issue 91
> ISSN 1004-042X
> Date: Thu, 02 Dec 93 04:36:10 -0700
> From: "L. Detweiler"
> Subject--File 1--Anarchy Gone Awry
> Mr. Leichter raises some extremely pivotal issues in CUD #5.90 related
> to the `anarchy' of the Internet. B.Sterling is the author of one of
> the most brilliantly colorful characterizations and metaphors of the
> Internet as `anarchic', comparing its evolution and development to that
> of the English language:
> I think that many people have mistaken the word `anarchic,' implying no
> overseeing authority or order (which the Internet is less) with the
> word `decentralized' (which the Internet is more). Again, the
> Internet has many regulatory and self-governing systems and orders.
> For example, connecting sites are required to implement a certain
> minimum set of software standards and prevent or even root out
> corruptions in their local sites and software. We have centralized
> databases that require the registration of domains for fees. A complex
> network of agreements and policies governs interconnectivity and
> communication, and a complicated interplay of elements affects basic
> content such as `commercial vs. academic.' Lack of some of these
> regulations and protocols would be disastrous.
> >Most of the Internet, in fact, is
> >better described as self-governing. There are a variety of social
> >norms concerning network use and interactions. One doesn't post
> >messages to unrelated groups. One doesn't evade moderation
> >restrictions. One maintains a certain (rather limited, it must be
> >admitted) degree of restraint in how one describes other network
> >participants. There are few effective mechanisms for enforcing these
> >norms, and they are certainly broken on an all-too-regular basis; but
> >the network continues to function because social pressure *can* be
> >applied to those who become too annoying; and in the most outrageous
> >cases, it's possible to remove the offenders' access to the net.
> I advocate that we build new formal mechanisms to enforce this order!
> We have for too long pretended that a central element of the Internet
> is not integral to it, namely that of the `degree of restraint over
> network participants' exerted through `social pressure'. Let us codify
> and formalize these `norms concerning network use and interactions' and
> develop systems that enforce them! I believe such systems can be
> developed that do not stray from the sacred Internet tradition of
> decentralization of control and freedom from censorship. Why should we
> continue to subject ourselves to the torture of `few effective
> mechanisms for enforcing these norms broken on an all-too-regular basis'?
> One of my most enduring Cyberspatial hallucinations is that of a
> Ratings server. A Ratings server would be a massive distributed network
> for the propagation of information similar to Usenet, and could
> conceivably be built upon it. But the Ratings server is not
> Information, as Usenet is, it is Information about Information. Anyone
> can post an arbitrary message to the Ratings server that refers to
> Information somewhere else in Cyberspace. It is in a sense a Rating of
> that Information. The Information could be *anything* -- a mailing
> list, a person, a particular Usenet posting, an FTP site. But postings
> on the Ratings server can be perused by anyone, and anyone can
> contribute Ratings to the server or indicate their own opinion on the
> existing Ratings. Different mechanisms exist such that some Ratings are
> `local' and some are updated globally.
I had a similar idea, but knowing how hard it is to get everyone using
new software and data streams, I wanted to piggyback onto News. My
original reason for thinking about it was for Internet systems that
would like to give access to News, etc. to K-12 students and schools.
A big problem is material that parents and teachers would object to.
I have absolutely no desire to censor anything or prevent adults from
running into or getting anything (quite the opposite, actually), but
there is no getting around the desired restrictions on info flow to
Basically, I suggested that special messages be standardized that
would endorse messages for certain distributions. Old (existing...)
news software would just pass the messages like others, but news
systems that wanted to rate or hide improper messages could pay
attention to them. My software would probably take the form of
patches to INN and tin, etc. There would be positive and negative
endorsements, of course with the possibility of signature keys, etc.
You could configure certain users or the system to be sensitive to any
combination of endorsements: The idea is that the administrator or
user could determine who they would pay attention to. Other things
like voting, number of endorsements, etc. could easily be done.
One senario is that teachers or organizations worldwide could
'register' to each other and share the responsibility of endorsing
messages in certain groups. If there needed to be culpability, the
endorsers could be tracked down if needed.
This would be totally optional on an adult's account and mandatory on
a minor's account, unless proper permission was obtained. It might,
in certain situations, also reduce the signal-to-noise ratio. Another
interesting use is to change the nature of moderated groups: the group
could be unmoderated in the current sense, but users could choose
moderators who would agree to endorse messages that had good content.
You could have several 'competing' moderators in the same group,
almost like news organizations.
'alt.best.of.internet' is a limited capability version of this idea.
> The fantastic possibilities of this system are evident upon some
> reflection and consideration. We could establish arbitrary new groups
> that have *formal* requirements that are matched by Ratings servers.
> For example, we could require that new sites that enter the Internet be
> `trusted' by an existing site. We could require that membership in
> certain groups requires a certain amount of collateral peer approval,
> with automatic suspension or expulsion as the consequences for
> violating it! We could have *meaningful* polls on arbitrary issues. We
> could have news servers that automatically sort and archive articles
> according to their passing certain Ratings thresholds. We could
> restrict the influence of troublemakers! These are all examples of
> strengthening and formalizing the informal social orders that are, in
> my opinion, today just barely holding the Internet together. With a
> Ratings system, I think the civility of the Internet would increase to
> a fantastic degree. In short, we could have our *own* cyberspatial government!
> Note that there is no centralized authority or unfair influence in this
> system, unless people corrupt their servers. When everyone who has
> joined a group *individually* decides to screen their postings of
> messages that fail to meet a certain `quality' or posters who have a
> certain `reputation', that is not Orwellian Censorship but the
> beautiful Internet freedom and right of Bozo Filtering. When everyone
> who joins a group *agrees* to a charter that may bar troublemakers
> based on Ratings, no one can claim they are being unfairly oppressed.
My method, IMHO, is a positive version of the negative method espoused
here. I do not like a central 'ratings server' of any kind. There
should be multiple competing 'opinions' and you can ascribe to any
existing one or in combination or be independant.
> I fervently hope that the glorifications and manipulations of Internet
> Anarchy by mouth-frothing libertarian extremists, Cryptoanarchists,
> and sympathizers can be adequately controlled and minimized in the
> future, and some harmonious systems and effective countermeasures
> along the lines of the Rating server can be established by visionaries
> and tinkerers, but in any case, for the sake of humanity's integrity,
> sanity, and well-being, I pray that Future Cyberspace is far less
> Anarchic than the Current Internet.
So how does our current society hold together? Where is that central
'ratings server'? (Nielsons dosn't count :-))
We should stay decentralized, especially, on the net. When some of us
think of an anarchic system, we are making the assumption that some
good stability and structure will be created organically. Probably it
will be better than that designed with preconceived opinions.
And, I feel compelled to add, you are the only mouth-frothing person
I've run across recently.
End of Computer Underground Digest #6.03