1994-05-31 - Re: IMP (was Re: ecash-info (fwd))

Header Data

From: rah@shipwright.com (Robert Hettinga)
To: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Message Hash: 302f010b2ee5d36e57c76397fd76ecd005f34b48894d8525989a052caa88bd40
Message ID: <199405310022.UAA12781@zork.tiac.net>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1994-05-31 00:24:09 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 30 May 94 17:24:09 PDT

Raw message

From: rah@shipwright.com (Robert Hettinga)
Date: Mon, 30 May 94 17:24:09 PDT
To: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Subject: Re: IMP (was Re: ecash-info (fwd))
Message-ID: <199405310022.UAA12781@zork.tiac.net>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Oh boy. Now I'm in for it... I *really* didn't mean to put the ball through
the window, mister, I was just trying to play....

Tim May said,

>David Chaum's work is of course central to Cypherpunks...

[Agree to all up to this point \|/]

>IMP-interest folks had an especially naive view, for the most part
>(based on posts I saw and things I heard from participants). I wished
>them well, but it seemed unlikely that a group of such hobbyists could
>build a real digicash system while avoiding Chaum's work!
>> implicit in it was a sort of top-down-plan idea that was incongruous with
>> the do-it-first ethic of the internet. Cypherpunks write code, or Chaum
>> does, anyway ;-).
>Even with the smiley, are you implying Cypherpunks don't actually
>write code?

[I think the ball goes through the window about here...]

I *really* didn't mean that at all. I did not *even* mean to "cast
asparagus" on your collective efforts. *Really*.

What I meant is that Chaum seemed to be making the implicit claim that he
had gone out and done something a whole lot of people around here seem to
have been hoping for for a long time: an Internet Mercantile Protocol.
*Not* a Kerberos-based Billing Server, *Not* anonymous credit cards, *Not*
a coffee-klatch at a BOF session somewhere, but a real way for people to do
cash transactions on the internet.

I think of Chaum as the 900 lb gorilla in all of this. Chaum is really
(because he owns the patents, after all) the only guy who could do
something here. I am _happy_ that he and his folks have kicked the snowball
down the hill. In my enthusiasm, I was applauding Chaum for doing something
whose time has come; I was *not* saying anything about the efforts of the
people on this list. If I gave that impression I *really* apologize.

Now the other stuff...

>> Could we talk about IMP here?
>Digital cash is discussed here often. And every one of the various
>"digital money" schemes announced by folks has--I think--been forwared
>here and discussed. In my view, Cypherpunks have talked a lot more
>about Internet Mercantile Protocols than the IMP-interest list has
>talked about crypto (an absolutely core technology, of course).

Having read the roasted-over imp-archives on thumper at belcore, I agree.
I was making the request in light of the fact that you folks have worked
over this ground before.  I was asking your indulgence more than anything

>> 1.) Chaum's e-cash coupled with WWW/Mosaic is a de facto internet
>> mercantile protocol.
>Hardly. Maybe it will be in the future, but enough infrastructure
>pieces are lacking that it can hardly be called a "de facto internet
>mercantile protocol."
>(Cf. the soda archives for a "Glossary" and various articles on
>Chaumian things.)

[will do]

This is the main point of my posting, I believe.  It seems to me that more
than that is being claimed by Chaum and Co.

>Of course crypto and true digital cash is central....this is our whole
>message, nearly.

Violent agreement here...

>You may be new to the list, but Magic Money/Tacky have been discussed
>as recently as last week. And ftp sites have been listed. Also, within
>the last week there were several discussions of making the schemes
>more "usable by the masses." (Having said this, MM is _not_ an easily
>usable, readily-convertible currency or even a payment xfer system for
>real currency...again, see the many posts on this.)

I agree.  I just started learning about all this stuff in the last three
months or so. But, I've been lurking here since. I have been paying
attention. Honest.  I've been trying to do my homework. I've pulled
everything down out of Nexis/Lexis that I could find on Internet Commerce
and Digital Cash, Chaum, Eric, the Cypherpunks group (not you in
particular, I'm afraid ;-)). Hell, I've even read Schneier, though for the
life of me I couldn't discuss 10% of the technical stuff and keep a
straight face (for pretending like I knew what I was talking about, in
other words).

>> Just a second.  My flame-suit is around here somewhere... OK. Flame on.

Putting this thing on has drawn more fire than it kept off of me.  I better
keep it off.

>I don't think of my comments as flamish, but the comments here seem to
>bespeak no awareness of the heavy focus Cypherpunks has had on digital
>cash for a long time.

Here's where I wish eudora had a "say what I mean" feature... Again my

>That we have not "deployed" digital cash is
>related to many factors, including patents, lack of financial
>incentive (Chaum's folks have spent perhaps 10-20 man-years and
>several million dollars, and Chaum holds key patents...it is hard to
>imagine any of us competing head on...and make no mistake about it: a
>"Pretty Good Digital Cash" scheme would, on the whole, be a much
>larger project than PGP was), etc.

I suppose my point was that Chaum seems to be seeing what is happening out
there, (CommerceNet) and has decided he can make things happen by opening
up things a little bit. I applaud this. I was egging him on. I was *not*
trying to get my tail-feathers fried.

My analysis may be simplistic, but when Digicash Inc. says this:

>Payment from any personal computer to any other workstation, over
>email or Internet, has been demonstrated for the first time, using
>electronic cash technology.

I figure that somebody acted. Somebody wrote code. Is it shipping? I have a
product I'm dying to sell this way right now.

Maybe I should wait a day before I post when I get excited about
something... As it is, I feel like Garth and/or Wayne.  "I'm not worthy!,
I'm not worthy!" I really didn't want get into it with Tim May of all

How many lawns do I have to mow to pay for the window, mister? ;-).

Robert Hettinga  (rah@shipwright.com) "There is no difference between someone
Shipwright Development Corporation     who eats too little and sees Heaven and
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