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  • EFF's (Extended) Guide to the Internet - A Cybernauts Eye View
    the technology imposed constraints we who populate cyberspace deliberately experiment with fracturing traditional notions of identity by living as multiple simultaneous personae in different virtual neighborhoods We reduce and encode our identities as words on a screen decode and unpack the identities of others The way we use these words the stories true and false we tell about ourselves or about the identity we want people to believe us to be is what determines our identities in cyberspace The aggregation of personae interacting with each other determines the nature of the collective culture Our personae constructed from our stories of who we are use the overt topics of discussion in a BBS or network for a more fundamental purpose as means of interacting with each other And all this takes place on both public and private levels in many to many open discussions and one to one private electronic mail front stage role playing and backstage behavior When I m online I cruise through my conferences reading and replying in topics that I ve been following starting my own topics when the inspiration or need strikes me Every few minutes I get a notice on my screen that I have incoming mail I might decide to wait to read the mail until I m finished doing something else or drop from the conference into the mailer to see who it is from At the same time that I am participating in open discussion in conferences and private discourse in electronic mail people I know well use sends a means of sending one or two quick sentences to my screen without the intervention of an electronic mail message This can be irritating before you get used to it since you are either reading or writing something else when it happens but eventually it becomes a kind of rhythm different degrees of thoughtfulness and formality happen simultaneously along with the simultaneous multiple personae Then there are public and private conferences that have partially overlapping memberships CMC offers tools for facilitating all the various ways people have discovered to divide and communicate group and subgroup and regroup include and exclude select and elect When a group of people remain in communication with one another for extended periods of time the question of whether it is a community arises Virtual communities might be real communities they might be pseudocommunities or they might be something entirely new in the realm of social contracts but I believe they are in part a response to the hunger for community that has followed the disintegration of traditional communities around the world Social norms and shared mental models have not emerged yet so everyone s sense of what kind of place cyberspace is can vary widely which makes it hard to tell whether the person you are communicating with shares the same model of the system within which you are communicating Indeed the online acronym YMMV Your Mileage May Vary has become shorthand for this kind of indeterminacy of

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  • EFF's (Extended) Guide to the Internet - Social Contracts
    one another disclose and discuss our mutual interests and sometimes we become friends In a virtual community we can go directly to the place where our favorite subjects are being discussed then get acquainted with those who share our passions or who use words in a way we find attractive In this sense the topic is the address You can t simply pick up a phone and ask to be connected with someone who wants to talk about Islamic art or California wine or someone with a three year old daughter or a 30 year old Hudson you can however join a computer conference on any of those topics then open a public or private correspondence with the previously unknown people you find in that conference You will find that your chances of making friends are magnified by orders of magnitude over the old methods of finding a peer group You can be fooled about people in cyberspace behind the cloak of words But that can be said about telephones or face to face communications as well computer mediated communications provide new ways to fool people and the most obvious identity swindles will die out only when enough people learn to use the medium critically Sara Kiesler noted that the word phony is an artifact of the early years of the telephone when media naive people were conned by slick talkers in ways that wouldn t deceive an eight year old with a cellular phone today There is both an intellectual and an emotional component to CMC Since so many members of virtual communities are the kind of knowledge based professionals whose professional standing can be enhanced by what they know virtual communities can be practical cold blooded instruments Virtual communities can help their members cope with information overload The problem with the information age especially for students and knowledge workers who spend their time immersed in the info flow is that there is too much information available and no effective filters for sifting the key data that are useful and interesting to us as individuals Programmers are trying to design better and better software agents that can seek and sift filter and find and save us from the awful feeling one gets when it turns out that the specific knowledge one needs is buried in 15 000 pages of related information The first software agents are now becoming available e g WAIS Rosebud but we already have far more sophisticated if informal social contracts among groups of people that allow us to act as software agents for one another If in my wanderings through information space I come across items that don t interest me but which I know one of my worldwide loose knit affinity group of online friends would appreciate I send the appropriate friend a pointer or simply forward the entire text one of the new powers of CMC is the ability to publish and converse with the same medium In some cases I can put the information in exactly the right place for 10 000 people I don t know but who are intensely interested in that specific topic to find it when they need it And sometimes 10 000 people I don t know do the same thing for me This unwritten unspoken social contract a blend of strong tie and weak tie relationships among people who have a mixture of motives requires one to give something and enables one to receive something I have to keep my friends in mind and send them pointers instead of throwing my informational discards into the virtual scrap heap It doesn t take a great deal of energy to do that since I have to sift that information anyway in order to find the knowledge I seek for my own purposes it takes two keystrokes to delete the information three keystrokes to forward it to someone else And with scores of other people who have an eye out for my interests while they explore sectors of the information space that I normally wouldn t frequent I find that the help I receive far outweighs the energy I expend helping others A marriage of altruism and self interest The first time I learned about that particular cyberspace power was early in the history of the WELL when I was invited to join a panel of experts who advise the U S Congress Office of Technology Assessment OTA The subject of the assessment was Communication Systems for an Information Age I m not an expert in telecommunication technology or policy but I do know where to find a group of such experts and how to get them to tell me what they know Before I went to Washington for my first panel meeting I opened a conference in the WELL and invited assorted information freaks technophiles and communication experts to help me come up with something to say An amazing collection of minds flocked to that topic and some of them created whole new communities when they collided By the time I sat down with the captains of industry government advisers and academic experts at the panel table I had over 200 pages of expert advice from my own panel I wouldn t have been able to integrate that much knowledge of my subject in an entire academic or industrial career and it only took me and my virtual community a few minutes a day for six weeks I have found the WELL to be an outright magical resource professionally An editor or producer or client can call and ask me if I know much about the Constitution or fiber optics or intellectual property Let me get back to you in twenty minutes I say reaching for the modem In terms of the way I learned to use the WELL to get the right piece of information at the right time I d say that the hours I ve spent putting information into the WELL turned out to be

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  • EFF's (Extended) Guide to the Internet - Who Is The WELL?
    The Farm one of the most successful of the communes that started in the sixties Brand and McClure started a low rules high tone discussion where savvy networkers futurists misfits who had learned how to make our outsiderness work for us could take the technology of CMC to its cultural limits The Whole Earth network the granola eating utopians the solar power enthusiasts serious ecologists and the space station crowd immortalists Biospherians environmentalists social activists was part of the core population from the beginning But there were a couple of other key elements One was the subculture that happened ten years after the counterculture era the personal computer revolution Personal computers and the PC industry were created by young iconoclasts who wanted to have whizzy tools and change the world Whole Earth had honored them including the outlaws among them with the early Hacker s Conferences The young computer wizards and the grizzled old hands who were still messing with mainframes showed up early at the WELL because the guts of the system itself the UNIX operating system and C language programming code were available for tinkering by responsible craftsmen A third cultural element that made up the initial mix of the WELL which has drifted from its counterculture origins in many ways were the deadheads Books and theses have been written about the subculture that have grown up around the band the Grateful Dead The deadheads have a strong feeling of community but they can only manifest it en masse when the band has concerts They were a community looking for a place to happen when several technology savvy deadheads started a Grateful Dead Conference on the WELL GD was so phenomenally successful that for the first several years deadheads were by far the single largest source of income for the enterprise Along with the other elements came the first marathon swimmers in the new currents of the information streams the futurists and writers and journalists The New York Times Business Week the San Francisco Chronicle Time Rolling Stone Byte the Wall Street Journal all have journalists that I know personally who drop into the WELL as a listening post People in Silicon Valley lurk to hear loose talk among the pros Journalists tend to attract other journalists and the purpose of journalists is to attract everybody else most people have to use an old medium to hear news about the arrival of a new medium Things changed both rapidly and slowly in the WELL There were about 600 members of the WELL when I joined in the summer of 1985 It seemed that then as now the usual ten percent of the members did 80 of the talking Now there are about 6000 people with a net gain of about a hundred a month There do seem to be more women than other parts of cyberspace Most of the people I meet seem to be white or Asian African Americans aren t missing but they aren t conspicuous

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  • EFF's (Extended) Guide to the Internet - My Neighborhood On The WELL
    power to censor or to ban a user is the hosts power Policy varies from host to host and that s the only policy The only justice for those who misuse that power is the forced participation in weeks of debilitating and vituperative post mortem The hosts community is part long running soap opera part town meeting bar room brawl anarchic debating society creative groupmind bloody arena union hall playpen encounter group The Hosts conference is extremely general from technical questions to personal attacks The Policy conference is supposed to be restricted to matters of what WELL policy is or ought to be The part delusion part accurate perception that the hosts and other users have strong influence over WELL policy is part of what feeds debate here and a strong element in the libertarian reputation of the stereotypical WELLite After fighting my way through a day s or hour s worth of the Hot New Dispute in News Hosts and Policy I check on the conferences I host Info Virtual Communities Virtual Reality After that my cflist directs me at the press of the return key to the first new topic or response in the Parenting Writers Grateful Dead tours Telecommunication Macintosh Weird Electronic Frontier Foundation Whole Earth Books Media Men on the WELL Miscellaneous and Unclear conferences The social dynamics of the WELL spawn new conferences in response to different kinds of pressures Whenever a hot interpersonal or doctrinal issue breaks out for example people want to stage the brawl or make a dramatic farewell speech or shocking disclosure or serious accusation in the most heavily visited area of the WELL which is usually the place that others want to be a Commons a place where people from different sub communities can come to find out what is going on around the WELL outside the WELL where they can pose questions to the committee of the whole When too many discussions of what the WELL s official policy ought to be about censorship or intellectual property or the way people treat each other break out they tended to clutter the place people went to get a quick sense of what is happening outside their neighborhoods So the Policy conference was born But then the WELL grew larger and it wasn t just policy but governance and social issues like political correctness or the right of users to determine the social rules of the system Several years and six thousand more users after the fission of the News and Policy conferences another conference split off News MetaWELL a conference was created strictly to discussions about the WELL itself its nature its situation often dire its future Grabbing attention in the Commons is a powerful act Some people seem drawn to performing there others burst out there in acts of desperation after one history of frustration or another Dealing with people who are so consistently off topic or apparently deeply grooved into incoherence long windedness scatology is one of the

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  • EFF's (Extended) Guide to the Internet - The WELL FYI
    FYI Howard Rheingold 1985 Tools for Thought New York NY Howard Reingold 1991 Virtual Reality New York NY Simon Schuster Howard Rheingold 1993 The Virtual Community Homesteading On The Electronic Frontier Addison Wesley Reading MA Everybody s got somewhere they

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  • EFF's (Extended) Guide to the Internet - Statement of Principle
    it or to what ends As a science fiction writer it is not my business to make people behave It is my business to make people imagine I cannot control other people s imaginations any more than I would allow them to control mine I am however morally obliged to speak out when acts of evil are committed that use my ideas or my rhetoric however distantly as a justification Pengo and his friends committed a grave crime that was worthy of condemnation and punishment They were clever but treacherously clever They were imaginative but it was imagination in a bad cause They were technically accomplished but they abused their expertise for illicit profit and to feed their egos They may be cyberpunks according to many they may deserve that title far more than I do but they re no friends of mine What is crime What is a moral offense What actions are evil and dishonorable I find these extraordinarily difficult questions I have no special status that should allow me to speak with authority on such subjects Quite the contrary As a writer in a scorned popular literature and a self professed eccentric Bohemian I have next to no authority of any kind I m not a moralist philosopher or prophet I ve always considered my moral role such as it is to be that of a court jester a person sometimes allowed to speak the unspeakable to explore ideas and issues in a format where they can be treated as games thought experiments or metaphors not as prescriptions laws or sermons I have no religion no sacred scripture to guide my actions and provide an infallible moral bedrock I m not seeking political responsibilities or the power of public office I habitually question any pronouncement of authority and entertain the liveliest skepticism about the processes of law and justice I feel no urge to conform to the behavior of the majority of my fellow citizens I m a pain in the neck My behavior is far from flawless I lived and thrived in Austin Texas in the 1970s and 1980s in a festering milieu of arty crypto intellectual hippies I ve committed countless crimes like millions of other people in my generation These crimes were of the glamorous victimless variety but they would surely have served to put me in prison had I done them say in front of the State Legislature Had I lived a hundred years ago as I live today I would probably have been lynched by outraged fellow Texans as a moral abomination If I lived in Iran today and wrote and thought as I do I would probably be tried and executed As far as I can tell moral relativism is a fact of life I think it might be possible to outwardly conform to every jot and tittle of the taboos of one s society while feeling no emotional or intellectual commitment to them I understand that certain philosophers have argued that this is morally proper behavior for a good citizen But I can t live that life I feel sincerely that my society is engaged in many actions which are foolish and shortsighted and likely to lead to our destruction I feel that our society must change and change radically in a process that will cause great damage to our present system of values This doesn t excuse my own failings which I regret but it does explain I hope why my lifestyle and my actions are not likely to make authority feel entirely comfortable Knowledge is power The rise of computer networking of the Information Society is doing strange and disruptive things to the processes by which power and knowledge are currently distributed Knowledge and information supplied through these new conduits are highly corrosive to the status quo People living in the midst of technological revolution are living outside the law not necessarily because they mean to break laws but because the laws are vague obsolete overbroad draconian or unenforceable Hackers break laws as a matter of course and some have been punished unduly for relatively minor infractions not motivated by malice Even computer police seeking earnestly to apprehend and punish wrongdoers have been accused of abuse of their offices and of violation of the Constitution and the civil statutes These police may indeed have committed these crimes Some officials have already suffered grave damage to their reputations and careers all the time convinced that they were morally in the right and like the hackers they pursued never feeling any genuine sense of shame remorse or guilt I have lived and still live in a counterculture with its own system of values Counterculture Bohemia is never far from criminality To live outside the law you must be honest was Bob Dylan s classic hippie motto A Bohemian finds romance in the notion that his clothes are dirty but his hands are clean But there s danger in setting aside the strictures of the law to linchpin one s honor on one s personal integrity If you throw away the rulebook to rely on your individual conscience you will be put in the way of temptation And temptation is a burden It hurts It is grotesquely easy to justify to rationalize an action of which one should properly be ashamed In investigating the milieu of computer crime I have come into contact with a world of temptation formerly closed to me Nowadays it would take no great effort on my part to break into computers to steal long distance telephone service to ingratiate myself with people who would merrily supply me with huge amounts of illicitly copied software I could even build pipe bombs I haven t done these things and disapprove of them in fact having come to know these practices better than I cared to I feel sincere revulsion for them now But this knowledge is a kind of power and power is tempting Journalistic objectivity or the

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  • EFF's (Extended) Guide to the Internet - Statement of Principle FYI
    Gibson 1993 Literary Freeware Not for Commercial Use Speeches to National Academy of Sciences Convocation on Technology and Education May 10 1993 Washington D C Computer Underground Digest 5 54 Bruce Sterling 1992 1993 Agitprop disk Literary Freeware Not for Commercial Use Contains various SF magazine columns texts of speeches etc Available via anonymous FTP from ftp eff org in directory pub agitprop Or use Gopher at gopher well sf

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  • EFF's (Extended) Guide to the Internet - Internet Culture
    the users With a background far removed from the arcane world of computing Anders is able to constantly remind me that technology is not the point only a point of departure What appears to tie together this disparate group of connectivity providers developers operators and users is the shared conviction that we re all working on something important Although as far as I know none of these people have actually met I m sure that if brought together they d all recognize each other instantly I certainly felt a kinship when I met each one of them in my travels It was clear that we are all from the same small village and it was nice to come home I can t help but see this spontaneous creation of online communities as a natural response to those cold winter nights when the new version of Mosaic refuses to install and the howling of distant UNIX hackers can be heard far off across the tundra But there is also the shared joy of a communal feast held perhaps after the virtual community s hunters have subdued a fat new gopher server for the group to enjoy After a brief struggle to isolate its port number and bring it to its knees with multiple queries the information monster is conquered once again and there is joyous feasting around the campfires as we all gorge ourselves on this latest net offering and bask in the warm glow of communal friendship If you and my editor will forgive me this brief flight of literary fantasy I think there is actually a point in here somewhere If you are ever called upon to explain the magic of the Internet to those who have yet to learn the secret handshake whether it be a recalcitrant boss or a puzzled life partner then I d definitely forgo the tutorial on TCP IP s ability to survive a nuclear war or the rapturous recitation of the list of anonymous FTP servers currently carrying XMosaic What really matters here is that people help each other out they do it with warmth and friendship there s a great feeling of communal spirit and everything seems to work more or less Although as a newcomer to the Internet you might sometimes feel like you ve wandered onto a construction site what with all the half finished software and the half baked and incomplete services you re confronted with on a daily basis the happy campers living here have somehow managed to make the place livable and welcome you into their little world with open arms asking only that you learn the rules do your share of the housework and don t trample on the flowerbeds It s not a bad life really And the Internet does tend to take care of its own Whenever someone announces a new service people look it over and run it through their collective cultural filter Woe betide those who would bring forth a new service

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