[ISN] Tim May: Rumors of the death of Cypherpunks are greatly exaggerated

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Nov 30 2001 - 03:27:21 PST

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    Forwarded from: "R. A. Hettinga" <rahat_private>
    --- begin forwarded text
    Status:  U
    Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 14:19:44 -0800
    Subject: Rumors of the death of Cypherpunks are greatly exaggerated
    From: Tim May <tcmayat_private>
    To: cypherpunksat_private
    Sender: owner-cypherpunksat_private
    On Thursday, November 29, 2001, at 01:47 PM, measlat_private wrote:
    > On Thu, 29 Nov 2001, Jim Choate wrote:
    >> On Thu, 29 Nov 2001 measlat_private wrote:
    >>> http://www.securityfocus.com/news/294
    >>> "Once the online haunt of top cryptographers, the Cypherpunks list was
    >>> characterized by its mix of revolutionary politics and advanced
    >>> mathematics. This week, a founder pronounced it dead and buried"
    >> Somebody should tell the other seven (7) nodes (on 2 continents).
    > That was, of course, my point :-)
    The article is not a bad one, and actually makes some good points.
    Predictably, the headline is lurid and derogatory.
    Fact is, lists and other fora have lifecycles just like anything else.
    The peak for the list was no doubt in the 1993-4 period, when Clipper
    was hot news, and when many ideas were being exposed to lots of others
    for the first time. By 1995, there were already schism lists forming,
    lists with allegedly higher-minded goals. And the original focus of the
    list, the deployment of various crypto protocols, began to drift into
    areas of copyright issues, legal battles, and weirdnesses from Parker,
    Bell, Vulis, and others. Other lists also covered much of the same
    material, and some no doubt flocked to the "moderated" forums maintained
    by Lewis McCarthy (who?), Perry Metzger, Declan McCullagh, and others.
    Not for me. I favor not having some nanny deciding what I can post.
    (Eric Murray's lne.com policies I have nothing against. In fact, he
    implemented his list shortly after I posted an article outlining similar
    reasonable policies: only subscribers to one of the CDR lists have their
    articles go through, plus all articles through remailers. This should,
    and did, cut out 98% of the spam and "hit and run" posts.)
    As for John Gilmore, I wish him the best. But let us face reality: John
    was never an active poster on the list even in the 1992-94 period. Check
    the archives if you doubt me. No doubt he had other projects occupying
    this time. But let's not kid ourselves that it was "his" list. In fact,
    the genesis of the mailing list took place on the Sunday after the
    Saturday original Cypherpunks gathering. Eric Hughes, Hugh Daniel, and I
    were walking to a Noah's Bagel in Oakland and talking about how to keep
    the spirit of the previous day's meeting going. Eric or Hugh suggested a
    mailing list, and Hugh said he could set it up to run on some machine or
    another, probably the Hoptoad machine that John Gilmore owned. John gave
    his permission and the list started about a week or two after the first
    Anyway, to those who wander away because the owner of "toad.com," a site
    that is not even part of the regular CDR system, declares us irrelevant
    I have just one message: good riddance.
    I don't expect the list to ever have the significance it had in the
    glory years, but I find it a better mix of topics than most other lists.
    Fact is, most other lists are the private fiefdoms of their owners,
    whether Lewispunks (coderpunks) or Perrypunks (cryptography) or one of
    any number of other such lists ("Interesting People," "Politech," etc.).
    And several of these lists are avowedly "non-political." How absurd.
    What's the point of a crypto list if there's no political angle? Yeah,
    maybe a handful of people want to chat about pure math and programming
    tricks...but not a lot, judging by the very low volumes of such
    discussions even on the "non-political" lists. And without political
    issues, what's the motivation to even talk about remailers, data havens,
    digital cash, etc.?
    Fact is, a _lot_ of people on all lists, on the Net, are losing sight of
    "why we fight."
    While we don't need politics of the Democrat vs. Republican kind, or
    even the libertarian vs. socialist kind, without some goals about where
    crypto can take us there is not much left except obscure debates about
    Rijndael and elliptic curves and other applied number theory obscuria.
    One of the lifecycle aspects of all lists is boredom. Those who found
    the Cypherpunks ideas exciting in 1994 moved on a few years later. Some
    joined companies, some even formed companies.
    All predictable.
    The fact that John is now pulling the plug is one of the few surprises
    of recent years....I thought his site at toad had gone away several
    years ago! That's when he announced he was shutting it down. That he let
    it dribble on a dumping ground for those not smart enough to find the
    cyberpass.net, algebra.com, sunder.net, lne.com, or Choate's site
    doesn't mean his node was "the list."
    The more things change...
    So, I wish him well. I am thankful that he let Hugh Daniel host the list
    on one of his machines in the 1992-96 period. But rumors of the death of
    Cypherpunks are greatly exaggerated.
    --Tim May
    --- end forwarded text
    R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rahat_private>
    The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
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