Computer underground Digest Wed Mar 31 1993 Volume 5 : Issue 24
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Copy Eidtor: Etaoin Shrdlu, Senior
CONTENTS, #5.24 (Mar 31 1993)
File 1--Special Issue on CFP III (introduction)
File 2--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 1)
File 3--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 2)
File 4--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 4)
File 5--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 5)
File 6--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 6)
File 7--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 7)
File 8--Bridging the Gaps w/Law Enforcement (View 1)
File 9--Bridging the Gaps w/Law Enforcement (View 2)
File 10--Bridging the Gaps w/Law Enforcement (View 3)
File 11--Bridging the Gaps w/Law Enforcement (View 4)
File 12--A Few Final Words about CFP '93
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Date: Wed, Mar 31, 1993 11:21:44
From: CuD Moderators
Subject: File 1--Special Issue on CFP III (introduction)
The Third annual Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy was held
9-12 March, 1993, at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel In
Burlingame, Calif. A crowd of experts, non-experts, students,
professionals, and law enforcement and others assembled to discuss
issues of Electronic Democracy and the impact of computer technology
in social change. From the various accounts, it appears that the
conference was more than a success. Formal sessions, BOF ("birds of a
feather") informal meetings, and lively interaction generated
enthusiastic discussion on The Well (voice: 415-332-4335; telnet:
We reproduce a flavor of the conference with the following posts. The
value and efficacy of bridging the gap between cybernauts and law
enforcement and intelligence agencies sparked considerable passionate
debate. CuD shares the view that, while it is never wise to be overly
optimistic about the potential success of such bridges, they can do no
harm, and the potential for reform far outweighs and disadvantages
that we can see. We find Bob Steele's comments in File #9
Planning for next year's conference has begun, and if it's as strong
as the '93 conference was reported to be, there will undoubtedly be
more applicants. Perhaps the organizers could expand the number of
scholarships to make it possible for those who couldn't otherwise
afford it to attend.
Date: Wed, Mar 10, 1993 (03:12)
From: Eric S Theise
Subject: File 2--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 1)
Objective reporting this won't be, especially at 3:00 a.m.
I'm having a great time at the conference. I arrived late for the
first tutorial session today. It started at 9, and I drifted in
closer to 9:30. They hadn't got my e-mail registration -- partly
because of the hard disk business yesterday, partly because they had
other things to worry about -- but Bruce Koball and Judi Clark told me
to go on in and pay up later.
I attended James Love's 'Access to Government Information' tutorial
which was crowded and very good. He outlined strategies for getting
information via the Freedom of Information Act and gave examples of
online systems that are and are not available to the public as well as
examples of some of the horrible contracts that have been struck
between government and contractor that have essentially sealed off any
hope of affordable public access to certain information because of
lack of vision and understanding on the part of the government. Love
works on the Taxpayer Assets Project for Ralph Nader.
I heard good things about Mike Godwin's tutorials on Constitutional
Law and Civil Liberties and about Mark Graham and Tim Pozar's Internet
Journeys. They gave away free copies of Krol's book!
I spent most of my lunch break chatting in the hallway, and grabbed
and wolfed a quick sandwich just before attending Russell Brand's
tutorial on Practical Data Inferencing: What We Think We Know About
You. As someone trained in mathematical models, statistics, and
artificial intelligence, I was hoping to learn about -- even
non-technically --some of the tools being run on disparate datasets to
make inferences about individuals' characteristics. Brand did a fair
amount of consciousness raising about the information available from
public records and tricks used to get information out of people. He
spent altogether too much time giving snippets of data and asking the
audience to make inferences. Around 4:00 I realized that this was all
he was going to do, and got disappointed. It was a fun little gossipy
session, but it was not terribly deep.
It seemed that New York State Police Investigator Donald Delaney's
Telecommunication Fraud tutorial was the place to be in the afternoon.
Apparently he's given the talk before, but it's a must-hear once.
Then there was the *long* break before the reception (4:30 - 8:00).
Another hour or so spent chatting in the lobby, then a spontaneous
Thai dinner in Belmont with five people I barely knew. Good
conversation about mid-80s Internet politics that I had only a fair
knowledge of, as well as current trends in acceptable use policies.
The Pad Thai was okay.
The reception featured piles of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice
cream with add-ins; big sugar rush and mucho schmoozing! Spent time
with Marc Smith and a table of sociologists and others from UCLA.
Talked with a few of the scholarship recipients who bemoaned the
provincialism of the Bay Area (aw, they're just jealous, knowing that
they're going to have to go back to Bowling Green next week 8-) ).
And had a long chat out in the hallway with Hugh Daniel and some of
the NYC contingent from the near-EFF chapter that's working with many
of the same issues as the Bay Area's own This!Group.
Bay Area Women In Communications had a dinner meeting which I *didn't*
hear about; maybe someone could report on that?
I left the hotel at 1:00 and, after giving a jump to a tow truck at my
local Safeway, I thought I'd log in for a little while tonight. Conf
starts up again at 9 am.
What struck me the most was how different this conference was for me
from the first CFP. At the first CFP I was a relatively naive BITNET
user who knew *no one*. I didn't yet have an account on the WELL.
This year I know people everywhere I turn, and there are many delights
in meeting people face-to-face for the first time. Conferences in the
field I'm trained in -- operations research -- are pretty damn boring.
CFP's fun, and tomorrow (today) -- with the arts panel that Anna
Couey, Mike Godwin, and I put together, as well as sessions on
Electronic Democracy, Electronic Voting, Censorship and Free Speech on
the Networks, EFF's Pioneer Awards, and Willis Ware as a dinner
speaker -- promises to really shift up into a higher gear.
And the CFP hallmark -- Feds and crackers doing the dialogue --
Date: Thu, Mar 11, 1993 (00:46)
From: Glenn S. Tenney
Subject: File 3--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 2)
The keynote today (Nicholas Johnson) was fantastic! I may not have
agreed with him 100%, but his talk was just wonderful. Don't ask me
to repeat it or even paraphrase it, I decided that I was probably
going to buy a tape of it and didn't take notes.
The electronic democracy session had, for me, an interesting note:
Sarah Gray from We The People (ran Jerry Brown's computer stuff) said
that they were given free accounts on various systems. I asked,
honestly innocently, how they felt about the fact that such
contributions were illegal. She basically had no clue that corporate
contributions are a no-no.
There were more sessions, but... And there were the EFF pioneer
awards... Ward Christen's talk was fun -- things haven't changed all
that much, it now takes about as long to figure out how to hook up a
hard drive to your PC on some SCSI board as it took him to wire wrap
and figure out how to build his own 8" floppy controller back then
And then there was the after dinner talk... Willis Ware, Rand Corp.,
gave a nice talk about privacy -- and ssn use and misuse. He had lots
to say about how California's new requirement of ssn for a driver's
license or vehicle registration is a major problem. Over the last 55
years, we've been having our privacy worn down little by little
--each time the reason was valid and good. Yet the overall effect is
not. Another part of his talk was that policy is being made by
private businesses concerned with profits.
I'm wiped out now since I have to get back there by 08:30 (Who the
hell starts a conference THAT early!!!!!). WIll try for more detail
Date: Thu, Mar 11, 1993 (02:12)
From: Robert David Steele
Subject: File 3--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 3)
It has been great. No video though (although I have SEEN a video
camera running around, the officially available product seems to be
audio tapes). Mark Graham and Tim Pozar tutorial on INTERNET was very
fine, well-paced, with excellent hand-outs ("the" book--thank you Bill
McDonald for an early copy), good slides, and excellent list of access
points. Missed afternoon session in order to give a rant at INTERVAL.
Nicholas Johnson Thomas Jefferson (Barlow gently points out Tom got it
from Madison) focus on public libraries, education, and cheap postal
rates for books as foundation for democracy, we are in negotiation
about his doing a speech on what Gore should be doing to honor these
founding father visions in the age of cyberspace. Panel on electronic
democracy, consisting of Jim Warren as chair, Bill Behnk, Richard
Civille, Mark Graham, Sarah Gray, and James Packard Love, was SUPERB.
I want to transplant it, without a single change, to my OSS 93. I was
really taken with each speaker. Mark Graham's vision and
intelligence, Sarah Gray's self-effacing discussion of reality
(perhaps the law is irrelevant Glenn--we all use the office telephones
and tools for personal business), Richard Civille's focus on what Gore
and tools can do to help the poor bootstrap, and James Packard Love's
visible, earnest intensity about cost and access to government
information were MARVELOUS.
Date: Fri, Mar 12, 1993 (03:14)
From: Eric S Theise
Subject: File 4--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 4)
I caught the Wednesday afternoon sessions: Censorship and Free Speech
on the Networks and Portrait of the Artist on the Net. The censorship
session was chaired by Barbara Simons (EFF), and featured Mike Godwin
(EFF), Carl Kadie (Computer and Academic Freedom News), Virginia
Rezmierski (U. Michigan), and Jack Rickard (Boardwatch). Most of the
issues discussed should be familiar to WELLbeings and USENET readers.
I can't say that I got any deep, new insights, but Godwin and Rickard
were right on. Rezmierski's positions seemed too conservative and
indicative of not spending much time on the nets. Some good stories
were told, and our own bozofilter was held up as an example of noise
I was a co-organizer of what ended up as the Portrait of the Artist on
the Net session (with Anna Couey and Mike Godwin). We tried to pick a
collection of artists spanning a range of media whose work had all
been influenced by the nets. Joe Green spoke first. Green is a
writer who (Mike check me if I'm wrong) steered rec.arts.poetry away
from being a warm fuzzy place to a no holds barred online poetry
critique and improvement workshop. His presentation *was* a poem, an
amazing rant against many things wrong with life and society that he'd
originally posted nothing else, it showed the power of text in the
hands of a craftsman. I haven't heard writing that powerful since my
summers at the Naropa Institute. It was presentation by example,
though it could also be the biggest case against ever having an artist
speak at CFP again, too.
Tied in nicely with the censorship session.
Tim Perkis, currently composer in residence at Mills College, spoke
next. Perkis is inventor of The Hub, a band and a technology that
allows for collaborative performance of computer music. Perkis spoke
against the technological materialism of being a computer musician, of
the line of thinking that can trap a musician into having to own the
newest and most expensive equipment with the end result that they have
to use it all for commercial work to pay it off. Perkis has
constructed a number of relatively low tech computer/synthesizer
instruments that he has focused on learning to play expressively,
forcing himself to stop diddling with the software. I'm not really
doing justice to his comments here.
Host of the WELL's new arts conference, Judy Malloy, read from a ream
of taped together index cards. Some documented online projects she'd
worked on, others street performance art. Others were observations
about the nature of her work. Given her directions with hypertext and
other narrative data structures, it was quite good. And entertaining.
Robert Edgar spoke for a short while about how his aesthetic as an
experimental film maker has come together with video and multimedia
technology. He showed a short video piece that he'd assembled in next
to no time in celebration of the panel using his own desktop
And Randy Ross, of American Indian Telecommunication, spoke about
changing currents in this, the year of indigenous peoples. He talked
about the respect for native cultures that appears to be on the rise,
and about the use of telecommunication technologies to link together
schools and reservations, and the links between Indian and American
culture that telecom can provide.
There were questions about the distribution of artwork over the nets
and payment for that work. Vint Cerf asked about the use of networks
to create art, meaning specifically the use of networked machines to
create artwork together; unfortunately, the panelists uniformly missed
the network aspect of the question and couched their answers in terms
of working at stand-alone machines.
Still, I couldn't have been happier with the way the arts panel turned
out, and you should get the audio tape of this one.
The EFF Pioneer awards were fun, especially the bit with Mitch Kapor
and John Perry Barlow in matching beltway suits. Glenn didn't mention
all of the recipients: Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the ARPANET,
Dave Hughes the cursor cowboy, Ward Christiansen, inventor of the
XMODEM protocol, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, the initial developers of
the software that led to today's USENET. And the guy responsible for
IP (Internet Protocol). I can't remember his name. How embarrassing.
Around this time the flu kicked in hard, and I spent three hours on a
couch in the hotel lobby.
We had an arts birds of a feather session where all of the artists
demonstrated their work.
Today I spent most of the day in bed with a side trip to the
Exploratorium to return some audio-visual equipment of theirs. I
caught Rosemary Jay's dinner address about the United Kingdom's
approach to data privacy; quite good. Also lurked at Robert Steele's
E3I birds of a feather which was interesting, although it seems that
we spent a lot of time talking about recompense for work distributed
digitally. Very similar to the arts session in that way. But
managed to assemble an interesting crowd of spooks and
geeks, and it'll be interesting to see where he takes this stuff.
Hey, I want to try and make all the sessions tomorrow, so I'm going to
bed. After I go post an update on Arts Wire.
Date: Fri, Mar 12, 1993 (07:51)
From: Cliff Figallo
Subject: File 5--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 5)
Actually, Vint Cerf was the co-inventor (with last year's Pioneer
Award winner Robert Kahn) of TCP/IP. The one you forgot was Paul
Baran, "inventor" of packet switching and the Telebit modem protocol.
I say "inventor" because all of these people would be the first to
tell you that all of this has been collaborative and evolutionary. I
was privileged to be able to arrange for the recipients to come here
to accept the awards and they are all very gracious and humble people.
John Perry Barlow gave the lunch speech Thursday, matching Bruce
Sterling's second-day-lunch presentation, the mind-blowing event of
*last* year's CFP in Washington. J.P. did nothing to dim what may
become the tradition of having the conference peak at this particular
point in the schedule. Barlow's point, delivered in his
characteristic blunt, frank, to the point, human-centered style, was
that our access to the tools that can guarantee us absolute digital
privacy can be _over-used_ by us, the technical elite. We are already
more knowledgeable and sophisticated about communications than any
branch or agency of government and we have the ability to maintain
that lead. If we decide to escalate a "war" of privacy, it may force
the government's hand and we may actually end up contributing to a
constriction of free flow of information and a resulting damage to the
community-fostering potential of electronic networking. Barlow's
appeal to us, was to practice moderation and to pay attention to the
He strung together so many provocative statements (I had high-level
functionaries of both the CIA and FBI in my line of sight as he spoke)
that many eyebrows were raised and twitching and even I was shaking my
head in disbelief. I'll get the transcript and post it here as soon
as possible. Big Fun.
Aside from that, a lot of action, as usual, was taking place in the
hallways. The session on Digital Privacy (including Dorothy Denning
and the issue of the FBI's Digital Telephony scheme) was a good
high-level discussion which as appreciated by all as giving good
exposure to the major conflicting points of view. This being by third
CFP and my eighth year being concerned with these issues, I see all
the usual suspects discussing the usual issues, making incremental
progress toward resolution. Some of these issues can only be solved
when the technology and the people have been in the microwave long
enough. No major breakthroughs will happen at this conference, but it
does build the trust that face-to-face often brings.
Date: Fri, Mar 12, 1993 (16:11)
From: Gail Williams
Subject: File 6--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 6)
Barlow was a knockout yesterday.
Had people cheering, fuming, and roaring with laughter, and fuming.
(Ironically enough, I took pretty detailed notes on judic's powerbook,
and left them at the hotel which is for the most part a splendid
place, but which charges a nightmarish pile of surcharges for phone
He attributed the desire for privacy to the rise of the suburbs, and
said small town and city people don't have any such privacy. A
transcript would be fun... I was struck by the choices he made in the
way he used the word "we", and it was easy to tell some clearly felt
he was not speaking for them. He was doing Patriarch of the clan, not
Seer, and 'Dad' got some folks pretty riled.
Judi's 'gender' panel this morning was a good surface-scratcher. One
of the panelists seemed to me to be under-informed, making some
general and sloppy statements inferring the need for censorship. (I
wish she'd really though it out, it would have been interesting to
hear a smart exploration of the 'hate language' model, but she really
just wasn't far into exploring the concept of controls and norms
online. The lines at the speaker's mic filled up with people who
wanted to speak out in favor of the alt.sex newsgroup. Brenda Laurel
and Mike Godwin were both quite articulate on this point. The
speaker, and forgive me my literature is not by my side and I can't
remember her name, backed down, but everyone wanted to have at her.
My sense is that this kind of consciousness raising is exactly the
process we all need. Librarians and artists are the ones who've
walked this path... government subsidy of alt.sex.bondage and NEA
funding of Mapplethorpe and Serrano are very closely related types of
issues, for example. And several people made the obvious metaphoric
point that a *place* where you go to talk about whatever can be
allowed to be offensive, the offended can go , and ask that
such speech not be accepted while in .
Anyway, it's fun to hear various people talk it through, keeping
honing and allowing others to challenge their arguments!
Cliff Stoll was a bundle of energy at lunch today, bouncing all around
the room, talking about the concept of being a 'public person' online,
and all kinds of other good stuff he had written as notes in ink on
his hand, and borrowing somebody's camera to photograph him mid-talk,
and playing at a fine frenzied pace through his lovely rant about life
and learning and community. His verbal and physical process while
giving a speech is like an anthem to creativity and eccentricity, he
really makes me feel good about myself.
Date: Sat, Mar 13, 1993 (05:49)
From: Robert David Steele
Subject: File 7--Computer Freedom and Privacy III Conf. (Report 7)
Also, FYI, I not only considered this a superb conference, but came
not only for my own education, but to identify selected individuals
representing this community who could bring some of these perspective
to my own conference where at least one third (even two fifths) of the
audience is from the intelligence community. Paul Wallner is going to
see about funding a few more intelligence professionals from different
agencies to attend next year, and commented to me that NSA absence was
noted. The flip side is to put a few from here on the posium (podium)
at my place, and as many as are interested in the audience. We talk
about sources of multi-media open data, tools (including INTERNET and
WAIS) for handling that data, and LEGAL/CONTRACTUAL issues including
how rest of government (not old "security" core) can develop open
intelligence capabilities, and how government and private sector can
share burden to increase amount of open data going into the public
domain, or as Lee would say, the information commonwealth. I hope a
number of you take Barlow's lunch speech seriously enough to be open
to the idea of coming to Washington in November. I am tentatively
planning for 33 scholarships, and give my word that--with the advice
of your existing scholarship director just to verify need--I actively
seek the most vocal representatives of CFP issues, without prejudice
as to social or economic status (!).
I really enjoyed this event, and thank all of you who took the time to
talk to me or to participate in our BOF circle.
Date: Mon, Mar 15, 1993 (07:16)
From: Dave Hughes
Subject: File 8--Bridging the Gaps w/Law Enforcement (View 1)
What's missing in the 'dialogue' between US government,
including intelligence, types and that part of the counterculture
willing to talk to em at conferences like this one, is creative
thought about what US intelligence agencies - once you admit their
necessity - *should* be doing. Or how they should be, using the new
technologies, solving their age old problems.
Don't forget that part of their problem is that they don't
*know* any better ways to do what they are doing. And all the self
appointed creative types here have to, for a change, put themselves in
the CIA's shoes and ask "If I had the mission, how would I do it?" Its
a therapeutic exercise, once one accepts 'responsibility' for giving
the orders or carrying out the missions.
I didn't hear many 'solutions' being offered at the conference
to the problem of deterring, detecting, or investigating crimes (and
worse, by foreign agents) done with crypto programs that can't be
busted. Just endless arguments on why, from a civil liberties
standpoint, there should be no backdoors required by law. I agree.
Now, how do you expect the FBI to solve the problem, Or should
they just give up, and if billions disappear from your bank accounts -
c'est la vive?
Date: Sat, Mar 13, 1993 (14:34)
From: Robert David Steele
Subject: File 9--Bridging the Gaps w/Law Enforcement (View 2)
Let me give you a couple of specific examples where the intelligence
community, the rest of government, and the private sector (corporate,
academic, and free) could do some work together:
1) A national "inventory" of unclassified multi-media, multi-lingual
unclassified sources of data, and a national dialogue over what "gaps"
need to be filled to make our nation and all its sub-elements
competitive in thinking, producing, and providing services.
2) Provide Vice-President Gore with budgetary control over the
billions of dollars spent by various U.S. government agencies on
inventing incompatible non-interoperable data handling systems, and
move toward a national generic information handling architecture with
mandated openness and standards--for instance, a legislative
proscription, implemented over five years, which ultimately prohibits
government purchase of ANY information technology which is not fully
3) Establish a "transition plan" in which 1 billion dollars a year,
beginning in this coming fiscal year which starts this coming 1
October, is transferred from the intelligence community to NREN/NPN.
Down-size the intelligence community in the following four ways:
a) Eliminate one quarter of its budget (from which comes the funding
b) Privatize one quarter of its capabilities, both by transitioning
things like the Foreign Broadcast Information Service into the private
sector (keeping an eye out for low cost to public), and by not doing
so many things (like being three days ahead of the news) which are
not truly vital to ANY definition of national security.
c) Distribute most (not all) of the analysts to a far broader
consumer base, allowing them to apply their methodological skills to
unclassified information (which has great biases of its own)--stop
PRODUCING classified intelligence for the sake of elitism, and focus
on THINKING as well as unclassified production that is disseminable to
Congress, the press, and the public.
d) Put a much-reduced intelligence community back in the business of
true SECRETS, narrowly focused, with Vice-Presidential participation
in advising the President what can be done with open sources vice
classified. Do nothing classified that can be done adequately with
Date: Sat, Mar 13, 1993 (22:27)
Subject: File 10--Bridging the Gaps w/Law Enforcement (View 3)
It's a matter of whether you believe that the next 20 years can be
better than the last 20, and (if so) whether you as an individual,
placed where you are and motivated as you are, can do anything to make
that happen. You have of course no way of knowing whether your beliefs
are correct; you may not even know whether you are being manipulated.
The world sucks and you are not in possession of all the facts. Now
Date: Mon, Mar 15, 1993 (15:06)
Subject: File 11--Bridging the Gaps w/Law Enforcement (View 4)
To me, the most important thing about CFP, essentially, is forcing
people of all stripes to see that "the enemy" has a human face, and to
deal with things on those terms. And so, for instance, I like it when
people who used to demonize Law Enforcement told me how great Don
Ingraham's panel was.
I don't think there are any panaceas. I do think that demonizing
people and reducing them to cartoons and assuming that All Of Category
X Behaves Like The Bad Specimen I've Encountered are unlikely to
produce anything useful.
Or make anything better.
Mary Eisenhart (editor/MicroTimes)
Date: Sun, 21 Mar 1993 16:18 CDT
From: Sharon Boehlefeld
Subject: File 12--A Few Final Words about CFP '93
With apologies to John Perry Barlow.....
I saw him in the halls and lobbies of the conference hotel several
times during CFP '93, but he was one of the few people I recognized
that I didn't approach. I kept thinking I would have opened my mouth
and said something like I used to say to the farmers I grew up with.
("So, what's the cattle market look like this morning?") And I heard
he retired from that life. (So did some of those friends of
mine...when the bottom dropped out of the cattle market in the
But he mentioned in his luncheon talk that he likes to rely on
personal experience before he passes judgement on things. I tend to
So, anyone reading this will have to remember that this is my
perspective on the Third Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy.
Let the reader beware.
I wondered what I'd said in my scholarship application that had caught
the committee's (John McMullen's?) eye, and garnered me one of the 42
awarded this year. I'm still not sure how I got in, but I'm awfully
glad that I did. The conference was everything I'd hoped and expected
it to be. Most of the folks I'd heard of were there. Some of them were
on the program; some were just wandering around with the same
innocuous nametags that everyone wore. I had to do double takes dozens
of times to realize just who I was talking or listening to. (I mean,
really...there was this guy with a nametag that said "John
Draper"...and I overheard one attendee asking him, "Are you Captain
Crunch?" Should he really have needed to ask?)
Since the only people I'd seen before were Barlow and Mike Godwin,
there were plenty of unfamiliar faces waiting to be attached to very
familiar names. Bruce Sterling, who so recently chronicled CFP's in
_The Hacker Crackdown_, was one of those previously faceless folks to
me. But I think he finally decided I was OK to talk to; he even gave
me a copy of his Agitprop disk. But it's in a Mac format and I haven't
had a chance to look at it yet. A couple of days into the conference I
decided the only point of disagreement I had with his book was his
description of Dorothy Denning. I kept look for this *old* woman.
(Maybe Bruce is just younger than I thought *he* was.)
Cliff Stoll has been photographed just enough that I knew who he was
when I saw him. So did Rebecca Henderson, a sociology grad student
from the University of Washington. She smiled as he passed us before
dinner Wednesday night, and after he walked by we quickly decided to
ask him to join us if he wandered back our way. He did; we did; and,
surprisingly, he said yes. After sharing a meal with him, I decided it
really wasn't so surprising after all. He was funny, and witty, and
charming...and as down to earth as anyone I've ever known who spends
much of his time wondering about the stars and the planets. He regaled
us with the tale of how 'the book' was written, adding some elements
that must have died at his editor's hands. (See, there's this other
English word that sounds like 'cuckoo' and that carries a whole
different set of connotations...but ask him yourself when you see
Phiber Optik was holding court with the other hackers most of the
times I saw him. Mostly I just tried to listen. I did have a sense,
though, that I was just too "straight" to be in that crowd. (Maybe I'm
just too old.) But he and his crew seemed like most of the other
hackers I've met. And maybe I'm just a bit perverse, but I still
haven't met a hacker I didn't like...at least a little. This was the
only time, though, that I got the impression that I couldn't just walk
in, sit down, and be included in the conversation. Once I stopped by a
group that was gathered in a lobby, and when they noticed I had joined
them, a previously animated conversation ground to a halt. I just
walked away. Felt like one of those "common people, housewives" with
the audacity to think I could be hanging around the nets, and the
el33te who populate them. Oh well...
One of the best parts of the conference for me, though, was meeting
four (count 'em...four) other sociology grad students who are
interested in cyberstudies. Marc Smith from UCLA, and Lori Kendall and
Eva Skuratowicz, both from UC-Davis, and Rebecca (I already mentioned
her), managed to locate each other by Wednesday morning. We decided to
stay in touch, and Marc's already got the Virtual Center for the Study
of Virtual Spaces up and running on a UCLA computer. We talked about
organizing a session for CFP '94 in Chicago, and one for the American
Sociological Society meetings in '94, too.
The only bad part about the conference was the pace. It was daunting.
A week later I've decided that part of the problem with the pace was
me. I was so caught up in where I was that I wanted to just absorb
every element of the conference. And I tried. But there are
limits...and I didn't get to meet everyone there, or talk to some of
them for more than five minutes or so. Part of that is due, of course,
to the fact that I actually attended most of the sessions. From the
first ones at 8:30 in the morning to the end of the "Birds of a
Feather" (BOF) sessions at 11 at night. What a grind. (The EFF BOF,
btw, wasn't the shouting match some folks had predicted in the halls
earlier in the day. My money was on a generally calm discussion, since
the reorganization was already a fait accompli.)
I finally had to admit defeat, and opted out of parts of a couple of
sessions on Friday. I was out in the hall, in fact, on Friday when I
heard what most resembled booing during the last formal session. I
popped back in a few minutes before it was over, and learned that
George Trubow had inadvertently offended some of the audience members
with a remark he'd made. (This was even before his
"point-counterpoint" session with Barlow.) I can't help but think that
some of the acrimony could be attributed to the fact that I wasn't the
only exhausted soul wandering the halls by then. Tolerance, however,
seems to have prevailed.
Another of the fascinating elements of the conference, though, was the
incredible mix of people. There were "names" of all sorts wandering
around with the rest of us. And some of the rest of us were pretty
fascinating folks in our own right. I can't begin to explain how
interesting it was to meet people from poets to pilots to postmen who
deal with computers in their daily lives. And all of those people have
given some thought to the social ramifications of the technology.
(Given the nature of the conference, that's probably little more than
a truism. But I also know I wasn't the only one there who voiced the
notion that "Gee, I'm not the only one who's wondered about (___fill
in the blank___)." )
And that may be the best thing about CFP. Folks have said it before;
they'll undoubtedly say it again.
"There's people in them thar nets."
And I like them.
But, as does any attempt to translate life into a mediated form, this
brief review falls far short of covering the experience that was CFP
'93. Listening to some of the session tapes, reading the comments
others are sharing in various parts of the nets, will help to round
out a view of what happened. But, like cyberspace itself, CFP '93 is
now a "place that isn't a place."
I'm glad I was there while it was.
Sociology/University of Wisconsin-Madison
End of Computer Underground Digest #5.24