Computer underground Digest Sun Mar 7 1993 Volume 5 : Issue 18 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: Jim

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Computer underground Digest Sun Mar 7 1993 Volume 5 : Issue 18 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET) Archivist: Brendan Kehoe Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala Ian Dickinson Copy Editor: Etaion Shrdlu, Seniur CONTENTS, #5.18 (Mar 7 1993) File 1--PKZIP Bankruptcy Rumor is a *HOAX* File 2--Hackers in the News (Orange County Register Reprint) File 3--GPO ACCESS - WINDO UPDATE File 4--London Times Educational Supplement Article File 5--FWD: The White House Communication Project Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are available at no cost from tk0jut2@mvs.cso.niu.edu. The editors may be contacted by voice (815-753-6430), fax (815-753-6302) or U.S. mail at: Jim Thomas, Department of Sociology, NIU, DeKalb, IL 60115. 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CuD material may be reprinted for non-profit as long as the source is cited. Some authors do copyright their material, and they should be contacted for reprint permission. It is assumed that non-personal mail to the moderators may be reprinted unless otherwise specified. Readers are encouraged to submit reasoned articles relating to computer culture and communication. Articles are preferred to short responses. Please avoid quoting previous posts unless absolutely necessary. DISCLAIMER: The views represented herein do not necessarily represent the views of the moderators. Digest contributors assume all responsibility for ensuring that articles submitted do not violate copyright protections. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: 03 Mar 1993 16:22:19 From: Moderators Subject: File 1--PKZIP Bankruptcy Rumor is a *HOAX* A recent "press release" indicated that PKWARE, producers of PKZIP and other popular software has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. THE PRESS RELEASE IS A HOAX! PKWARE's Mike Stanton indicated that the PKWARE is in sound financial shape and that there is no basis whatsoever to the release. "It's probably somebody's idea of an early April Fool's joke," said Stanton. The release contained a number of factual errors that prompted us call PKWARE, and they confirmed what we suspected. The original press release read: FYI FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 1993 5:00PM CST =============================================================== PKware Inc., citing overwhelming advertising, administrative and development expenses with the recent problem-plagued release of their new PKZIP product, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy today in the Milwaukie County District Court. "PKWARE will continue to operate normally, and will provide, as always, the high-quality data compression products and services which have made us the leader in the data compression market," Mark Gresbach, press-relations manager of PKWARE, said. In business since 1987, PKWARE Inc. produces high-performance data compression software, which makes computer program and data files smaller, for faster transmission over telephone lines or to take up less disk space. Fortune 500 companies such as Borland Inc., of Scotts Valley, CA and government agencies such as the US Air Force are major customers of PKWARE. Any questions or concerns may be directed to PKWARE at any of the following telephone numbers: Phone (414) 354-8699 FAX (414) 354-8599 BBS (414) 356-8670. +++ The errors include: 1) Inaccurate phone numbers 2) A non-existent spokesperson position at PKWARE 3) An improper court of jurisdiction: There is no "Milwaukee County *District* Court; Chapter 11 is filed under federal statutes, not "County"/State statutes 4) Unusual wording PKWARE's latest release of PKZip (2.04g) has been released and has been so well received that the Katz folk are barely able to keep up with the orders. It is faster, tighter, and provides more options than earlier releases. ------------------------------ Date: 04 Mar 1993 11:29:00 -0800 From: lynn.dimick@PCB.BATPAD.LGB.CA.US(Lynn Dimick) Subject: File 2--Hackers in the News (Orange County Register Reprint) I have received permission from Catherine A, Boesche of the Orange County register to reprint this story ONE TIME. They would like to receive the following credit: Reprinted with permission of The Orange County Register, copyright 1993. This originally appeared on February 17, 1993 Jeffrey Cushing knew his teenage son was a "computer freak," spending hours hunched over a bedroom keyboard playing games and tapping out messages to friends. It seemed like wholesome, hightech fun -- until Cushing was sued last April by a Garden Grove telephone company that accused his son of hacking into the firms' long distance lines. The tab: $80,000 "I was in shock," said Cushing, 51, an advertising executive from Huntington Beach. "all of a sudden this guy knocks on the door at 9 p.m. and serves me with this humungous suit." The war against hackers who steal long-distance telephone time has left a trail of slack-jawed parents throughout the state. Hit with lawsuits throughout the state. Hit with lawsuits, search warrants and demands for damages many parents are gulping hard and paying the toll for telephone fraud. Although no record is kept, some industry analysts estimate that telephone fraud drains as much as $5 billion a year from companies nationwide. "Fraud on the (telephone) network is still one of the most devastating things to long-distance companies, especially the smaller ones," said Jim smith, vice president of the 34-member California Association of Long Distance Telephone Companies. The culprits often are juveniles, whose parents know little about computers and less about what their children are doing with them. At the forefront in pursuing the dial-tone desperadoes is Garden Grove's Thrifty Tel Inc. -- which in 1990 became the first telephone company to impose a tariff on hackers. The idea was copied by several other small phone companies in California, although Thrifty's tariff remains the highest at $2,880 per day, per line. As part of every settlement, Thrifty also confiscates the offending computer. "This is designed to spank 'em hard. It can (financially) wipe out a family," said Dale L. Herring, Thrifty's director of security. "I sympathize, to some extent, but why should our company absorb the loss? Giving their kids a computer and a modem is like giving them a loaded gun." Thrifty estimates its hacker losses at $22,000 a month. Over the past three years the company has recovered nearly $1 million and has nabbed 125 alleged hackers -- the vast majority of them juveniles. About 24 cases were prosecuted, with nearly all the defendants pleading guilty. Early the month, Thrifty said, it busted, a 10-member ring of teenage hackers stretching from La Habra to Mission Viejo. Criminal charges are pending against one of the suspects, a 19 year-old Irvine man who allegedly called Thrifty's computer system 6,435 times in 24 days. More than 1,000 calls came on Christmas. The bill from Thrifty: $75,000. The teen-ager allegedly used a simple scam employed by dozens of hackers to break into long-distance carriers: Using a modem and a home computer programed for hacking the thief telephones the company's switching system. From there, the hacker's computer generates ran-dom digits until it hits the access codes --similar to calling-card numbers - - given to customers. Those special codes are then used by the hacker to make long-distance calls that will be billed to unsuspecting customers. Many times, egotistical hackers post the codes on computer bulletin boards for others to use, much like a victorious matador throwing a rose to a pretty lady. It can take several hours -- and several hundred calls to the phone company -- to identify a handful of codes. But the hackers simply set their computers to run night and day, calling three to four times a minute. For the novice, hacking programs with names such as "Code Thief Deluxe" are widely available and can be downloaded without charge from computer bulletin boards. "It's becoming a subculture. Just as kids were sucked into `Dungeons and Dragons,' they're being sucked into hacking," said Thrifty's Herring. Often teen-age hackers are highly intelligent loners, addicted to the worldwide computer bulletin boards that allow them to communicate with others of their ilk. "But they run up $300 to $400 in monthly phone bills, their parents go ballistic, so they turn to hacking," Herring said. Unknown to the young hackers, some calls can be traced. Digging through stacks of computer printouts. Herring and other experts at Thrifty have followed the electronic trail over the past three years to: * An Escondido boy whose parents were ordered by an Orange Count judge recently to pay Thrifty $33,000 in damages. * A Foothill High School student in Santa Ana who was blamed for more than $250,000 in losses to Thrifty and two other long-distance companies in 1991. The boy pleaded guilty to telephone fraud. * A six-member ring of San Diego high school students who raided system in March. Their families are paying more than $100,000 in damages. Herring said the response from parents is always the same. "Their first reaction is they want to kill their kids. Then, 24 hours later, they want to kill us," Herring said. Last year, a 63-year-old father from San Diego responded to Thrifty's demands for $16,000 by filing a harassment suit. The man contended that he suffered from a nervous condition and had warned by his doctor to avoid emotional shock. And what could be more shocking then being hit with Thrifty's $2,880-a-day tariff, approved by the Public Utilities Commission in 1990? The tariff is meant to recover the costs of investigation hacker paying attorneys and losing customers who've been victimized. While the fee has been upheld in court, some parents complain th it is unfair and inflated. The actual cost of the pirated phone call amounts to only a small part of the huge damages sought by Thrifty. Part of Thrifty's aggression in civil court comes from its growiin inability to get the hackers into criminal court. Thrifty has had a tough time persuading law authorities to spend their limited resources on telephone hacking. Garden Grove police recently notified Thrifty that the department will no longer investigate hacking calls that do not originate in th city. Since then, Herring said, the company keeps getting passed fro one police agency to another, each claiming not to have jurisdiction "I have to fight tooth and nail to get them interested," said Herring, who last month persuaded the Orange County District Attorney Office to prosecute at least one alleged member of the recently bus Orange County hacking ring. Garden Grove Lt. Bill Dalton said his department couldn't keep u with the expense of investigating Thrifty's hacker problem. Dalton a that Thrifty could make its telephone system more secure by putting digits in the access codes, making them harder to discover. That strategy literally saved Com-Systems of Westlake Village, w was losing $250,000 a month to hackers before it overhauled its security system in 1990. The move cost $1 million. "Now we don't lose $250,000 in a whole year," said senior investigator John Elerick. "We were getting killed." About 15 of the small long-distance carriers in California have reconfigured their access codes. But Thrifty has resisted, because t change would inconvenience customers by making them wait a few seconds more for their calls to go through, Herring said. While Thrifty wrestles with its security dilemma, Huntington Be dad Cushing found and easy way to protect himself from ever again be sued for hacking: He disconnected the phone line in his son's bedroom. "Now, he can only games, do homework, and that's about it." ++++++End of article++++++ * RM 1.0 B0008 * lynn.dimick@pcb.batpad.lgb.ca.us (Lynn Dimick) ////// This article originated at The Batchelor Pad PCBoard BBS /////// / Long Beach, CA ///// 1200-14,400 V.32bis+HST ///// +1 310 494 8084 // ------------------------------ Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1993 14:26:58 EDT From: LOVE@TEMPLEVM.BITNET Subject: File 3--GPO ACCESS - WINDO UPDATE Taxpayer Assets Project Information Policy Note February 28, 1993 UPDATE ON WINDO/GATEWAY LEGISLATION Note: the WINDO/GATEWAY bills from last Congress (HR 2772; S. 2813) would have provided one-stop-shopping online access to federal databases and information systems through the Government Printing Office (GPO), priced at the incremental cost of dissemination for use in homes and offices, and free to 1,400 federal depository libraries). Both the House and Senate are soon expected to introduce legislation that would replace the GPO WINDO/GATEWAY bills that were considered in the last Congress. According to Congressional staff members, the bill will be called "GPO Access." The new name (which may change again) was only one of many substantive and symbolic changes to the legislation. Since the bill is still undergoing revisions, may be possible (in the next day or so) to provide comments to members of Congress before the legislation is introduced. The most important changes to the legislation concern the scope and ambition of the program. While we had expected Congressional democrats to ask for an even broader public access bill than were represented by the WINDO (hr 2772) and Gateway (S. 2813) bills, the opposite has happened. Despite the fact that the legislation is no longer facing the threat of a Bush veto or an end of session filibuster (which killed the bills last year), key supporters have decided to opt for a decidedly scaled down bill, based upon last year's HR 5983, which was largely written by the House republican minority (with considerable input from the commercial data vendors, through the Information Industry Association (IIA)). The politics of the bill are complex and surprising. The decision to go with the scaled down version of the bill was cemented early this year when representatives of the Washington Office of the American Library Association (including ALA lobbyist Tom Sussman) meet with Senator Ford and Representative Rose's staff to express their support for a strategy based upon last year's HR 5983, the republican minority's version of the bill that passed the House (but died in the Senate) at the end of last year's session. ALA's actions, which were taken without consultation with other citizen groups supporting the WINDO/GATEWAY legislation, immediately set a low standard for the scope of this year's bill. We were totally surprised by ALA's actions, as were many other groups, since ALA had been a vigorous and effective proponent of the original WINDO/GATEWAY bills. ALA representatives are privately telling people that while they still hope for broader access legislation, they are backing the "compromise bill," which was publicly backed (but privately opposed) last year by IIA, as necessary, to avoid a more lengthy fight over the legislation. If the negotiations with the House and Senate republicans hold up, the new bill will be backed by ranking Republicans on the Senate Rules and House Administration Committees, and passed by Congress on fast track consent calendars. We only obtained a draft of the legislation last week, and it is still a "work in progress." All changes must be approved by key Republican members of Senate Rules and House Administration. Gone from the WINDO/GATEWAY versions of the bill were any funding (S. 2813 would have provided $13 million over two years) to implement the legislation, and any findings which set out the Congressional intent regarding the need to provide citizens with broad access to most federal information systems. Also missing are any references to making the online system available through the Internet or the NREN. WHAT THE GPO ACCESS BILL WILL DO (subject to further changes) 1. Require the Government Printing Office (GPO) to provide public online access to: - the Federal Register - the Congressional Record - an electronic directory of Federal public information stored electronically, - other appropriate publications distributed by the Superintendent of Documents, and - information under the control of other federal departments or agencies, when requested by the department or agency. 2. Most users will pay user fees equal to the "incremental cost of dissemination of the information." This is a very important feature that was included in the WINDO/GATEWAY legislation. At present many federal agencies, including the National Technical Information Services (NTIS), make profits on electronic information products and services. Given the current federal government fiscal crisis, this strong limit on online prices is very welcome. 3. The 1,400 member federal Depository Library Program will have free access to the system, just as they presently have free access to thousands of federal publications in paper and microfiche formats. Issues to be resolved later are who will pay for Depository Library Program telecommunications costs, and whether or not GPO will use the online system to replace information products now provided in paper or microfiche formats. WHAT THE GPO ACCESS BILL DOESN'T DO - Provide any start-up or operational funding - Require GPO to provide online access through the Internet - The Gateway/WINDO bills would have given GPO broad authority to publish federal information online, but the new bill would restrict such authority to documents published by the Superintendent of Documents (A small subset of federal information stored electronically), or situations where the agency itself asked GPO to disseminate information stored in electronic formats. This change gives agencies more discretion in deciding whether or not to allow GPO to provide online access to their databases, including those cases where agencies want to maintain control over databases for financial reasons (to make profits). - Language that would have explicitly allowed GPO to reimburse agencies for their costs in providing public access was eliminated in the new bill. This is a potentially important issue, since many federal agencies will not work with GPO to provide public access to their own information systems, unless they are reimbursed for costs that they incur. - S. 2813 and HR 2772 would have required GPO to publish an annual report on the operation of the Gateway/WINDO and accept and consider *annual* comments from users on a wide range of issues. The new bill only makes a general requirement that GPO "consult" with users and data vendors. The annual notice requirement that was eliminated was designed to give citizens more say in how the service evolves, by creating a dynamic public record of citizen views on topics such as the product line, prices, standards and the quality of the service. Given the poor record of many federal agencies in dealing with rapidly changing technologies and addressing user concerns, this is an important omission. - The WINDO/GATEWAY bills would have required GPO to address standards issues, in order to simplify public access. The new bill doesn't raise the issue of standards. OTHER POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS Supporters of a quick passage of the scaled down GPO Access legislation are concerned about a number of budget, turf and organizational issues. Examples are: - Congress is considering the elimination of the Joint Committee on Printing, which now has oversight of GPO. - There are proposals to break-up GPO or to transfer the entire agency to the Executive Branch, which would slow down action on the online program, and may reduce the federal support for the Federal Depository Library Program, or lead to a different (and higher) pricing policy. - The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) opposes an important role by GPO in the delivery of online services, since NTIS wants to provide these services at unconstrained prices. It does not appear as though the Clinton/Gore Administration has had much input on the GPO Access legislation, which is surprising since Vice President Gore was the prime sponsor of the GPO Gateway to Government (S. 2813) bill last year. (Michael Nelson will reportedly be moving from the Senate Commerce Committee to the White House to be working on these and related information policy issues.) Even the scaled down GPO Access bill will face opposition. According to House republicans, despite IIA's low key public pronouncements, the vendor trade group "hates" the bill. Opposition from NTIS is also anticipated. TAXPAYER ASSETS PROJECT VIEW We were baffled and disappointed the decision of ALA and Congress to proceed with a scaled down version of last year's bills. We had hoped that the election of the Clinton/Gore administration and the growing grass roots awareness of public access issues would lead to a stronger, rather than a weaker, bill. In our view, public expectations are rapidly rising, and the burden is now on Congress and the Administration to break with the past and take public access seriously. The GPO Access legislation provides incremental benefits over the status quo, but less than might seem. - The statutory mandate to provide online services is useful, but public access proponents have always argued that GPO already has the authority to create the WINDO/GATEWAY under the current statutes. In fact, GPO now offers hundreds of CD-ROM titles and the online GPO Federal Bulletin Board, a service that could (and should) be greatly expanded. - The three products that the GPO Access bill refers to are already online or under development GPO. GPO is now working on the development of a locator system and an online version of the Federal Register, and the Congressional Record is already online in the Congressional LEGIS system -- a system that is presently closed to the public, and which is not mentioned in the GPO Access bill. - The "incremental cost of dissemination" provision of the new bill is welcome, but GPO is already limited to prices that are 150 percent of dissemination costs. Several suggestions to strengthen last year's bills were ignored. Among them: - Expand the initial core products to include other online information systems that are already under the control of congress, such as the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) online database of campaign contributions, the House LEGIS system which provides online access to the full text of all bills before Congress, or the Library of Congress Scorpio system. - Create a special office of electronic dissemination in GPO. At present, GPO's electronic products and services are managed by Judy Russell, who is capable, but who is also responsible for managing the primarily paper and microfiche based federal Depository Library Program, a time consuming and complicated job. We believe that GPO's electronic dissemination program is important enough to warrant its own director, whose career would depend upon the success of the electronic dissemination program. The GPO Access bills will be considered by the following Congressional Committees: Senate Committee on Rules and Administration 202/224-6352 Chair, Senator Wendell Ford Ranking Minority, Senator Ted Stevens House Committee on House Administration 202/225-225-2061 Chair, Representative Charlie Rose Ranking Minority, Representative Bill Thomas ------------------------------ Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1993 20:26:36 EST From: Arnie Kahn Subject: File 4--London Times Educational Supplement Article **** Originally from: From--Mike C Holderness Subject--Invisible (internet) college Greetings everyone --Here, belatedly, is the article for the Times Higher Education Supplement in which you expressed an interest. The published article was very little different, apart from some errors of punctuation which they introduced... A conspiracy of silent communication "In the high-tech world, if you're not on the net, you're not in the know." Thus the Economist included the Internet in its festive guide to networks -- alongside the Freemasons, the Trilateral Commission, and others which only the best-informed conspiracy theorists can fret about. More seriously, Lynne Brindley, head of the British Library of Political and Economic Science, asks how, as a young researcher, "you break in to a discipline if you haven't source journals to look at". Increasingly, research is being discussed on the Internet rather than on paper: by "those in the know, in these invisible colleges who can safely whizz their way round draft documents and papers," as Brindley puts it. Research has always involved "invisible colleges", whether they meet at conferences or exchange ideas in the post -- what the electronic community refers to as "snail mail". Does the age of electronic communication herald newer, more invisible and more exclusive colleges? "Despite the normative description of science as an arena of fully-open communication, the new communication technologies exacerbate the practical problem of some groups of people having more access to information than other people." That's the conclusion of Bruce Lewenstein, of the departments of communication and Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York state. The first thing about an exclusive network is that many people don't even know about it. So some history is in order. The Internet grew out of a project by the US Department of Defense to build a communication system which would function after a nuclear attack. In the 1970s, programmers working for the DoD got themselves connected, and started sending electronic messages containing working notes, queries and --crucially -- gossip. The technology was taken up by the US National Science Foundation to make super-computer resources available to universities across the country. More and more local university networks joined. The British Joint Academic Network (JANET) gained a high-speed connection to the US, shared with NASA. The Internet is deeply decentralized: an institution "joining" it need only be connected to a few "neighbours", which forward messages on to their neighbours, by whatever route is available, until they reach their destination. So no-one knows quite how large it is. One recent estimate is that about 7 million people --somewhere between 3.5 million and 14 million -- have full access through their university or employer. What's the Internet good for? You could, with permission, sit at a kitchen table on the isle of Jura and run a programme on a super-computer in Cambridge -- or, equally easily, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or both at once. But most researchers deal more in text than number-crunching. If you want to exchange text with colleagues around the world, you first need an "account" on a computer, or a local network, with an Internet connection. You compose your message in a word-processor and convert it to unadulterated plain text (ASCII in the jargon). You locate the account name for the person you want to write to -- more on that later. Type the command "mail jones@history.winnesota.edu" and attach the text; a few minutes or hours later jones looks at her computer in the notorious University of Winnesota and discovers your message waiting for her. Immediately, you can see the possibility of collaborative writing with anyone, anywhere. You can form a group, too. A "mailing list" re-distributes all the messages it receives to all its subscribers. And you can have public discussions: a message sent to one of the more than 2000 "news-groups" is visible to anyone who cares to look, and possibly to reply. It's not, of course, quite as easy as that. Assume, for the moment, that you can type, in English. Assume that you have access to the necessary equipment. Assume that you're able and prepared to learn the sometimes baroque commands needed to access the system. Assume that you're tolerant of the fact that when you make a mistake, as you will, the system may fail to notify you at all, or may throw screeds of gobbledegook at you. For these assumptions to be true, you're quite likely either to be a member of an academic institution in a Western industrialised country, or very well-to-do in world terms. You're also likely to be male. And the public area of the news system bears this out. An high proportion of messages -- over 90% in an unrepresentative sample of discussions of physics -- comes from the USA. An even higher proportion (of those with identifiable senders) comes from men. "Women in science worry that these 'private' network exchanges of research results serve to reinforce the 'Old Boy Network' in scientific research circles, especially given the overwhelmingly male demographics of e-mail and news-group users," says Ruth Ginzberg, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University in the US. Why should there be this preponderance of men? Sarah Plumeridge is research assistant on a project to study women's use of computers at the University of East London. She comments that "A lot of research suggests that women prefer computing when it's for use, as a tool, when it's not taught as an abstract science." It's clear from the tone of messages in the public news-groups that the boys see them as a playground. Newcomers are often mercilessly attacked for stylistic solecisms. Kerri Lindo, who teaches philosophy at Middlesex University, saw the Internet for the first time when interviewed for this piece. She immediately related it to her work on the French philosopher Bourdieu and remarked: "it's what I'd call a social Freemasonry -- you can't join a club unless know in advance what the rules are. Someone who learns the rules and then plays the game won't play it as successfully as someone who never explicitly learnt them -- just as people who learn middle-class manners or second languages always get caught out, however fluent they become." And Josh Hayes, a post-doctorate studying community ecology at the University of Washington, may have hit on a sensible social reason for avoiding electronic communication: "For the moment, those of us who use the net a lot are probably considered to be, well, a little bit geeky. Real ecologists would be out in the field, don't you know." There are more serious issues too. Cheris Kramerae of the Department of Speech Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana is, working on the issue of sexual harassment on "the net". This happens in very specific ways -- men sending abusive messages to women, often having obtained their electronic addresses from the electronic "personals column". There is also the problem of socially retarded students abusing the system to distribute digitised pornographic images: the direct equivalent of the calendar on the workshop wall. Kramerae concludes, however, that "Obviously it is not the technology but the policies which are presenting particular problems for women." Arnie Kahn runs a private mailing list for about 45 feminist psychologists from James Madison University in Virginia. "A few years ago I was sending electronic mail to a few friends who, like myself, were feminist psychologists doing research on gender.... I announced to my friends that if they had a question, they could just send the message to me and I would forward it to the rest of the group." Kahn's list is, then, exactly an invisible college. Given the vast space occupied by anti-feminist men in the open news-groups which are supposed to discuss feminism, it can only operate if it remains private and by invitation. Are there, though, fields in which access to the Internet is essential, rather than helpful, to making progress? It seems so. Jim Horne, an Associate Research Scientist in high-energy physics at Yale University in the US, states that "a number of people in high energy (only those with tenure though) have even stopped sending their papers to journals. They only send their papers to the preprint bulletin boards." Paper publication is quite simply too slow to bother with. These collections of preprints are public, if you have net access and if you've been told where to find them. Stephen Selipsky, a physics post-doctorate at Boston University, points out that, since the preprints were made available in this way, "in the circles I move in, 'private' mailing lists play very little role... There is very little point keeping results secret in theoretical work, and large career rewards from disseminating results... in contrast to areas like biochemistry, where people [want] to stay in the lead on a hot topic." Computer science is naturally another field where work is exchanged exclusively on the net. A researcher at Edinburgh --who preferred not to be named "from shyness" -- says that "you tend not to chase up the actual publication (which can be months later). I have seen someone appealing for information about where some papers were eventually published, because you can't (yet) put 'archive@ohio-state.edu' in a bibliography entry." Here, too, there is at least one mailing list which is private -- "in order to keep down the traffic and free it from the 'can anyone tell me what a neural network is?' questions." In some fields, electronic distribution is the only practical method. If you've ever watched someone laboriously typing DNA sequences out of a journal into a computer -- "ACG ACT AAG TAG" and thus for pages --you'll see why this is the case for molecular biology. There are some ways in which electronic communications can break down boundaries. "Speaking as someone at a relatively small and remote institution," says Steve Carlip at the physics department of the University of California Davis, "the biggest handicap is not private electronic distribution, but rather the fact that so much happens at seminars and in conversations." Robert Gutschera finished his PhD last year and is now an Assistant Professor of mathematics at Wellesley College in the USA. "The heaviest users of electronic mail seem to be younger researchers," he says. "Getting into a field is always hard, but I think e-mail makes it better rather than worse." Some are positively evangelical. Lewenstein quotes Tom Droege, who is looking for "anomalous" heat production from palladium electrodes in heavy water -- the notorious cold fusion experiment -- in his basement laboratory. Droege communicates and discusses all his results publicly on the Internet -- finding negative interest from his work colleagues at Fermilab. "...the real experiment I am trying to do is e-mail science. The 'anomalous heat' project is just an excuse. I think this is the media of the future." You may notice that most of the people quoted here work in the USA. This is, as you might guess, because their comments were obtained on the Internet -- neatly demonstrating the bias it introduces. On the one hand, the research for this article might have been impossibly expensive without it. On the other, people with net connections are tempted to talk only to the connected. Kerri Lindo, as a total newcomer, was immediately struck by the possibility of finding others working on Bourdieu -- until she saw the content of the one public philosophy news-group: "It's a real shame, isn't it..." She composed and sent a message anyway -- and was able to predict what the programme would do next, which suggests that the computer software for sending messages isn't as awful as it's often made out to be, at least for post-graduate philosophers. She got just one response, from a group with an estimated 23,000 readers, and this could be summarised as "who he?". Some of those ten or thirty thousand occasional readers of the philosophy news-group could probably be useful collaborators for Lindo. But how to find them? The sheer volume of public tittle-tattle -- known on the net as "the noise-to-signal ratio" --means that only those with time to kill will pay attention. The Internet has no equivalent to a phone book. If you know that you want to contact a particular person, you know what institution they work at, and you can guess or find out that institution's electronic address, there are tools which may locate them -- but they're cranky and unreliable. Often the easiest way to find someone's electronic address is a phone call, which may involve explaining exactly what electronic mail is to three or four departmental secretaries. On the other hand, once you've made contact, the computer screen is a great leveller. If you can work out how to de-gender your personal name, then all the information the reader has about you is what you choose to put into your text. (Or maybe not: Lindo recalls an small experiment in which she could tell the gender of pseudonymous essayists with 93% accuracy, though this was from hand-written scripts.) An intelligent and literate amateur could still conceivably enter into collaboration with a professor... If you work in the humanities, you can probably put off coming to grips with the technology for a few years. You might want, however, to consider the rich seam of research on how this medium affects the nature of the messages. Lindo is not the only person to speculate that "It's possible that [the net] will influence the whole structure and nature of knowledge as much as the printing press did." Consider, too, that if Cyril Burt's twin studies had been published electronically, some awkward person --very possibly an amateur -- would have run his figures through a statistics programme and spotted something funny, probably within 24 hours. If you work in some fields -- certainly high-energy physics and molecular biology, and probably mathematics -- you'd better get connected, get retrained, or get a highly computer-literate graduate assistant ("a nerd", in the jargon) to do it for you. Lewenstein concludes that though electronic communication "will not replace traditional face-to-face interaction... researchers with access to these forms of communication [are] making progress while other researchers, still awaiting information through more traditional slower channels, have not yet begun to work." For them, the ability to use computer communication is an essential part of literacy. Dorothy Denning works on computer security, and teaches computer literacy, at Georgetown University in Washington DC. She "doubt that the electronic research communities will be any harder to break into than non-electronic ones. Based on my own experience, I expect they will be much easier to join (assuming you have the resources). Her qualification is vital -- funders, take note. ------------------------------ Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1993 22:51:14 EDT From: Susan_L._Irwin.Henr801C@XEROX.COM Subject: File 5--FWD: The White House Communication Project I am currently involved in a research project that is trying to aid the Clinton Administration in making effective use of computer-mediated communication to stay "in touch" with the public. Our coordinator has gotten in touch with Jack Gill, Director of Electronic Publishing and Public Access Electronic Mail for the Clinton Administration, and he (Gill) has embraced the efforts of the research group to lend a helping hand to this task. Some questions he has posed to the researchers include the following: (1) When you get thousands of messages a day, how do you respond effectively? (2) How do you make a public e-mail system inclusive and accessible? (3) What would happen if e-mail became the primary mode of(mediated) access to government? We would appreciate any insights and suggestions of possible solutions to these questions. Shellie Emmons sme46782@uxa.cso.uiuc.edu ------------------------------ End of Computer Underground Digest #5.18 ************************************

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