GEnie parla con Bruce Sterling
SFRT - 11/09/92

Bruce Starling, co-autore con William Gibson di The difference engine e autore di The hacker crackdown, ha qui un lungo chat (chiaccherata telematica) su hackers, phreaks, crackers, btw, virus, ....

All'interno di questo chat sono stati utilizzati dei simboli molto usati dagli utenti delle comunità virtuali per rappresentare simbolicamente lo stato d'animo di chi scrive (mancando nella scrittura telematica quell'elemento della comunicazione che si traduce nei gesti, e nelle espressioni del corpo. Tali simboli sono delle facce, ruotate di 90 gradi rispetto alla lettura normale, costruite tramite parentesi tonde, virgole, barre, asterischi, etc.
Ad ogni faccia corrisponde un significato comunicativo.
Ad esempio, la faccia
se vista di traverso corrisponde a una "Faccia sorridente" e il suo significato è che "la frase precedente e` scherzosa".
Per un elenco dettagliato del significato di tale facce, vi rimandiamo a un testo ripreso da una rivista telematica "Telematicus" che abbiamo riportato in questo numero di Metanetwork nel testo da noi intitolato "Faccine telematiche"

GEnie talks with Bruce Sterling:
This file comes from the Science Fiction and Fantasy RoundTable
(SFRT, page 470) on GEnie, and is Copyright (c) 1992 by GEnie.


21:30EST 11/09/92

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> The GEnie clock says that it's 9:30 ET, so we'll start now.

** <[Host] THE.HAMMER> Room is now listen-only.

Room is now in listen-only mode.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Our RTC guest tonight is Bruce Sterling, author of the
<[Host] THE.HAMMER> cyberpunk anthology MIRRORSHADES, co-author with
<[Host] THE.HAMMER> and now the author of the non-fiction work THE HACKER
<[Host] THE.HAMMER> CRACKDOWN. Welcome, Bruce.

<[Guest] BRUCES> What a pleasure to see all those titles spelled correctly *8-)

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Bruce's new book is concerned with questions about the new
electronic frontier.

<[Guest] BRUCES> Now if we could only PRONOUNCE them *8-/

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Do a /rai if you have a question for Bruce, and I will call
on you.
<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Bruce, I'll lead off. Your book is called THE HACKER
CRACKDOWN. How do you define "hacker"?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Whoops.. oh dear, my fingertips have fallen off... no, false
alarm. Do ask anything, people, don't be shy.
<[Guest] BRUCES> How do I define hacker. Well, there was the good ol' 60s
definition, and then there's the rather more sinister 90s definition.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> What are they?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Generally I go with the cop definition, since it's the one in
greater public usage, meaning a computer trespasser.
<[Guest] BRUCES> When you see 'hacker' in headlines it invariably means
somebody who's committed sillicitly.
<[Guest] BRUCES> Wow! I mean someone who'se committed computer abuse and
<[Guest] BRUCES> a system illicitly.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Okay, we have a question from DANTECH...

<[Katie] DANTECH> I wonder if you think there's any way we can reclaim the term?
<[Katie] DANTECH> I was a programmer, and to me it was a term of praise, a
gonzo programmer who could get into the code and really make it sit up and
<[Katie] DANTECH> I get upset with the other definition. it takes a hacker to
be a hacker in the new sense, but not all hackers do that sort of thing. if
you follow me. ;-> anyway, does your book emphasize the difference?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Reclaim the term "hacker?" Sure. About the same time that I
reclaim the term "cyberpunk." Ha ha ha ha!
<[Guest] BRUCES> My book does make the distinction between "hacker" in its
better sense and
the system-cracking hacker, but I'm afraid it's a losing battle.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Katie, a followup?

<[Katie] DANTECH> I'm hoping we get to GURPS later, but that's it
for now.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Okay.
<[Host] THE.HAMMER> P.RETZBACH is next...

<[Pete] P.RETZBACH> hi ... I want to ask about this stuff I hear about al gore
and the "network america" ... can you comment??

<[Guest] BRUCES> Comment on Al? Sure! Let me state publicly that I'm taking
complete gloating glee at the prospect of Souther Yuppie Reptiles in Power!
<[Guest] BRUCES> But more seriously -- yes, NREN is clearly a very big deal and
I for one have high hopes for it.
<[Guest] BRUCES> I think it's very encouraging that we now have a highly placed
federal official with a firm grasp on modern telecommunications.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-up, Pete?

<[Pete] P.RETZBACH> yes ...
<[Pete] P.RETZBACH> so you really believe it's not too early or ambitious??

<[Guest] BRUCES> What if it is? I don't see what we have to lose. A few
billion? So what?
<[Guest] BRUCES> "Information superhighways" sounds like a swell notion to me.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Next up is B.LUHMAN.

<[King Arthur] B.LUHMAN> What if any is the difference between Hackers and
Phreakers? (not sure spelling)

<[Guest] BRUCES> Well, "phreaks" are mostly into telephone manipulation while
"hackers' crack systems, but that is a harder distinction to make now
<[Guest] BRUCES> that the telphone system is becoming digitalized.
<[Guest] BRUCES> "Phreaks" tend to be into petty theft-of-service more than
hackers, too.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-up?

<[King Arthur] B.LUHMAN> yes.. which is easier to get caught?

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Can you repeat that? It was garbled.

<[King Arthur] B.LUHMAN> yes.. which is easier to get caught?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Oh.... Well, that depends on what kind of crime you're
committing and how openly you brag about it.

<[King Arthur] B.LUHMAN> ic thnx!

<[Guest] BRUCES> It also depends on who the local cops are and if they're hip
to telecomm

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Next up is Martha Soukup, SFRT assistant sysop....

<[Martha] SFWA-SOUKUP> I think you should introduce "sillicitly" into the
language. Noun. Anyway....
<[Martha] SFWA-SOUKUP> Of the people you met researching the book, who was, or
were, the most fun
<[Martha] SFWA-SOUKUP> to hang out with?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Oh, Kapor and Barlow, no question.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-up?

<[Martha] SFWA-SOUKUP> Howcum?

<[Guest] BRUCES> John Perry Barlow is the heaviest dude I know!

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Second follow-up, Martha?

<[Martha] SFWA-SOUKUP> Maybe you could elaborate? (Or does everyone need to
buy the book? <g>)

<[Guest] BRUCES> Cops are always a bit menacing; hackers hard to trust.
<[Guest] BRUCES> But millionaires and Grateful Dead lyricists have their own
odd kind of charm, believe me,
<[Guest] BRUCES> It's a little hard to describe charisma.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Next up is Mike Whalen....

<[MIKE] M.WHALEN5> Hi, Bruce.

<[Guest] BRUCES> Yo.

<[MIKE] M.WHALEN5> I finished you book just this weekend.. great read. I wanted
to ask you...
<[MIKE] M.WHALEN5> I have been on BBSs here in New Orleans since 1984 and I can
remember a prominent Hacker/Cracker/Phreaker scene.. but this seems to have
died in recent years.. would you feel this is true of the whole scene?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Well, I think the scene has changed its character. But the
digital underground definitely exists, believe me.
<[Guest] BRUCES> I could upload some proof if you're interested.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-up?

<[MIKE] M.WHALEN5> Oh.. I do know it exists. Proof? What do you mean by Proof?

<[Guest] BRUCES> There's a big hacker convention coming up in Houston nemy hard

<[MIKE] M.WHALEN5> I am not doubting you. Btw, I could not finish the 911
document. Thanks, Bruce.

<[Guest] BRUCES> I gotta learn to stop doing that *8-(
<[Guest] BRUCES> Anyway, there were a lot of Norleans people at this
hacker con last year.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Next up is Pete Retzbach again...

<[Guest] BRUCES> Unless my wrists fall off *8-(

<[Pete] P.RETZBACH> did the feds REALLY believe Steve Jackson was
publishing a hacker manual??

<[Guest] BRUCES> I don't think they did, but I think they were anxious
for a convenient excuse.
<[Guest] BRUCES> I think the USSS realized immediately that they'd blown
it, but they hoped the whole thing would remain completely obscure.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-up?

<[Pete] P.RETZBACH> thank you

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Next up is Kate Daniel again...

<[Katie] DANTECH> How do you mean, "an excuse"? what else did they want
to nail him for?
<[Katie] DANTECH> And, my main question, how is Kapor's group doing?

<[Guest] BRUCES> I think they had his gaming bulletin-board,
"Illuminati," figured for a very serious Legion of Doom hangout.
<[Guest] BRUCES> They thought it would be full of hot passwords and such.

<[Katie] DANTECH> government paranoia?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Kapor's group is "an insurrection trying to become an
<[Guest] BRUCES> Not paranoia. Just a mistake. The problem came in
trying to brazen out their blunder. If they'd just handed it back and
<[Guest] BRUCES> Jackson would not have beat the drums so loudly.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-ups?

<[Katie] DANTECH> the question on paranoia was all.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Next up is Gary Frazier...

<[GaryF] G.FRAZIER3> Bruce, do you think that the law enforcement
community has the technical skills to deal with hacking's negative aspects?

<[Guest] BRUCES> No, they don't; but then again, neither does anybody

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-up?

<[GaryF] G.FRAZIER3> Are they flailing around, trying to give the
impression that they're DOING SOMETHING?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Things have been quiet for some months. However now
that the Presidential campaigns are over...
<[Guest] BRUCES> I very much expect to see the US Secret Service get
into the electronic
<[Guest] BRUCES> fray once again and with renewed vigor.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Any follow-up, Gary?

<[GaryF] G.FRAZIER3> Nope. Thanks, Bruce!

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Next up is Tom Weber

<[Tom] T.WEBER7> Is the "any unlocked door is an invitation" morality
prevalent among the young hackers you've encountered, or has that been
exaggerated by the media? Is most hacking politically motivated, or just for
kicks and personal gain?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Kicks. Prurience. Ego-tripping. Role-playing.
Neurosis. Intellectual curiosity. Lack of other outlets. Teenage high
<[Guest] BRUCES> The "unlocked door" rap still gets a lot of play in
hacker circles, but I've always found it kind of hard to take seriously.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-up, Tom?

<[Tom] T.WEBER7> Are there any serious politically subversive groups
hacking around?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Well, that depends on what you mean by "serious," Tom.
I think EFF is pretty "serious," and so are CPSR and ACLU, but they're not

<[Guest] BRUCES> and they're not generally perceived as "hackers."
<[Guest] BRUCES> Or as "subversive," for that matter -- which is
probably their greatest strength.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Next up is Susan Shwartz...

<[Susan] S.SHWARTZ> As I understand it, Kapor's group is designed to
protect people like Steve Jackson. What sort of success is it having?
How would it answer (possible) charges that it's soft on the wrong sort of
hacking--or would it?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Well, anybody can make the "hacksymp" charge. It
doesn't seem to carry much oomph though. I'm surprised at the public support
<[Guest] BRUCES> computer intrusion kids. The populace is very cynical
these days. Big telephone companies and groups like FBI, Umuch of a
sympathetic hearing.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-up?

<[Susan] S.SHWARTZ> Yes, please. I have a subversive fondness for this
sort of thing, too. But what's the group's basis in law? First Amendment?
Unfair search and seizure? Privacy?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Fourth Amendment, First Amendment,
<[Guest] BRUCES> privacy legislation, anti wiretapping legislation.
<[Guest] BRUCES> Electronic Communications Privacy Act, too.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Next up is Mike Whalen again.

<[Guest] BRUCES> And let's not underestimate $$$$$$$$$$

<[MIKE] M.WHALEN5> Hey, again. What do you feel the public's CURRENT
perception of CyberSpace is. Is it becoming MORE friendly? Or has the term
Cyberspace and renewed Hacker media scared more people away?

<[Guest] BRUCES> I think people are less terrified of "hacking" these
days and more and more frightened by "viruses." Viruses probably ARE a worse

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-up?

<[MIKE] M.WHALEN5> I guess the more hackers there are .. the more
viruses? That is the current.. misnomer? At least I feel it is.

<[Guest] BRUCES> The networks are growing steadily, especially the
Internet, so people aren't frightened by modems per se or cyberspace as an

<[Guest] BRUCES> The thing that drives people nuts is the idea of having
their hard-disks wiped by some idiot from Bulgaria and his PC virus.
<[Guest] BRUCES> There's a pretty good book coming out from England
called "Approaching Zero" that has a lot of material on Bulgarian virus-writing

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Next up is Kate Daniel again....

<[Katie] DANTECH> this is a complex one. obvious lawbreakers, the ones
who hack into corporate databases....
<[Katie] DANTECH> and mess up financial records and plant viruses, they
are obviously of interest to the g'vment. But do you think...
<[Katie] DANTECH> some areas of g'ment are afraid of the non-illegal
areas of cyberspace, like GEnie? think it's monitored? and what effect do you
think ....
<[Katie] DANTECH> the new administration's interest will have on it? ga

<[Guest] BRUCES> Well, there are plenty of things you can do on a
"legal" BBS or network that will catch a cop's attention....
<[Guest] BRUCES> fencing stolen property, planning crimes (conspiracy),
pornography (especially CHILD pornography)...
<[Guest] BRUCES> swindles, thefts, libel, slander...
<[Guest] BRUCES> exchanging hot credit card numbers, exchanging stolen
phone access numbers...
<[Guest] BRUCES> pirating and selling illicitly copied software...
<[Guest] BRUCES> giving advice on demolitions, brewing poisons, how to
kill with a single blow of a blunt object...
<[Guest] BRUCES> advice on how to commit all manner of crimes and
disguise your activities afterward. And so on.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-up?

<[Katie] DANTECH> I'm more interested in open communications, consensus
forming, and direct feedback to government. do you think some officials find
this form of open, fast communications threatening?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Did I forget plagiarism and theft of intellectual

<[Katie] DANTECH> I was going to say we don't do those things on GEnie,
but I *have* taken part in discussions on killing people. but I write murders.

<[Guest] BRUCES> You'll be grinning out of the other side of your modem
if you ever become involved in an actual murder investigation, DANTECH.

<[Katie] DANTECH> seriously?

<[Guest] BRUCES> Depends on how CLOSELY involved you are.
<[Guest] BRUCES> And if somebody examines your hard-disk.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Next up is Martha Soukup again....

<[Martha] SFWA-SOUKUP> In your (very funny) story, "Are You for 86?",
you have a religious pro-life group using computer hacking as one of their
strategies. Do you think that, in real life, the radical right will catch up
to the radical left in that area? And are radical political groups getting
anywhere with hackery? (hacking, whatever)

<[Guest] BRUCES> Well, there have been Nazi bulletin boards in the US
for a long time, and when it comes to satellite comm have been into it for a
long time.
<[Guest] BRUCES> I don't think the radical right has much "catching up"
to do.

<[Host] THE.HAMMER> Follow-up?

<[Martha] SFWA-SOUKUP> How annoying are these groups, really, to the