1994-05-30 - The Cypherpunks’ Electronic Book

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From: “Gary Jeffers” <CCGARY@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: c76f50fb3e8cb8157d4f0a8bb8b97e354bf46e50b4f9b2d50302fa71c8847532
Message ID: <9405302207.AA22877@toad.com>
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UTC Datetime: 1994-05-30 22:07:34 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 30 May 94 15:07:34 PDT

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From: "Gary Jeffers" <CCGARY@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
Date: Mon, 30 May 94 15:07:34 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: The Cypherpunks' Electronic Book
Message-ID: <9405302207.AA22877@toad.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain


C'punks write in sand - the cure

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                           THE CURE
   Ok, its not quite as bad as that but its bad! As we all know the
Cypherpunks' list is not archived, indexed, or hard back bound.
Information that cannot be found is useless. Tim May has recently
volunteered to make a list of privacy software. Congratulations for
that! That is certainly a step in the right direction. I don't wish to
be overly critical of the Cypherpunks' list as it is surely the best
electronic privacy list & better than any corresponding newsgroup
on the Internet. I am merely pointing out a solution to its greatest
deficiencies & how to greatly improve it. I have an idea (CEB) that
would get us a very workable knowledge base fast.

   First, it is not that practical to archive the list. Its too big, no
one wants to do it, too much of it is junk, & files that are valuable
today are time dependent & become tomorrow's junk. The only good
reasons for archiving the whole list are for history & entertainment.
   My idea for a good Cypherpunk knowledge base is a "Cypherpunks'
Electronic Book" ("CEB") that would have named chapters that are
indexed, refereed, & continuously updated. Contributors would have their
items signed. These chapters would consist of:

1. List of privacy software & locations.
2. State of the Art.
3. Current significant problems.
4. Capabilities & Dreams  (things we can do, things we want to be
   able to do).
5. Reputations of people by name, their products & achievements.
6. PGP's state of affairs.
All chapters would be refereed & all chapters of large size would
be indexed. There would be a collective index for the whole CEB.

   In the software listing, in addition to listing where software can
be found, we could also have reviews by Cypherpunks so we could know
each package's quality.

                    STATE OF THE ART
   In the State of the Art chapter, we would list only the best
software of its kind. It would of course include reviews of each piece &
its fitness for its job. Each piece would be indexed by name, category,
& author.

   In the Current significant problem's chapter, we would have a list of
the particular current problems as well as general problems to solve
& tactics for carrying out the Cypherpunks' mission. We could list
who was working on these problems & how far they had gotten. We could
also state a difficulty level to each problem. Many problems would be
only partially solved or solved in a not entirely satisfactory way. For
those hoping to make contributions to electronic privacy, this chapter
would provide a list of targets.

                     CAPABILITIES & DREAMS
   In the Capabilities & Dreams chapter, we would have a compilation
of things that we are currently able to do as well as things that we
hope to be able to do in the future. A good example is how far we are
with anonymous digital money. Is anybody actually using it? Do we have
useable money systems available but unused? Do we have users beating
down our doors for a working digital money system not yet developed?
Do we have anonymous digital barter & what is being bartered?

   The reputations chapter is a much needed who's who of the electronic
privacy world. We would know who had made heavy contributions to
electronic privacy & who the proven capable are. Much needed recognition
would be provided to the productive. This chapter would serve as a
reputations grade lister for the more outstanding people. I would also
suggest that their public keys, if any, be included. This chapter would
provide some much needed justice.

                    PGP'S STATE OF AFFAIRS
   PGP in its various versions is a topic that rates its own chapter
in CEB. What versions are compatible? What versions are good? What
versions are endorsed by Phil Zimmerman? For what versions do we have
source code? What versions are legal & where? The PGP versions would
require some thoughtful indexing. Then, there are the patches to PGP
versions to make them compatible with other versions & for bug fixes
& upgrades.

   This Cypherpunks' Electronic Book could be written very quickly. It
would be written in parallel with many Cypherpunks writing in different
sections in different chapters. We would not have to start out big. The
first edition could be a high quality booklet. New editions could be
published weekly or even daily due to the fact that its medium is
electronic. The booklet would have immediate value with its first
edition as permanent continuously updated sources of electronic privacy
knowledge are badly needed. I would suggest that Tim May could be one
of the first writers with his software list. In order to get something
published early, Tim could list only the best of the software in the
first edition. It would be good if Tim could have a critique to go with
each software piece.

   As far as I know, the Cypherpunks' Electronic Book would be the only
current, continuously updated, refereed electronic privacy knowledge
base on the Internet. As various Cypherpunk writers contributed to it
it would grow in value. It would become THE electronic communications
privacy knowledge base.

   We could use Majordomo as the book's distributor. With some small
modifications, Majordomo could do a lot for us. I would suggest that
Majordomo be modified so that it advertised CEB by name with each
query. The CEB would be available from Majordomo as one of its files
with the full instruction: get cypherpunks CEB . When the CEB became
very large individual chapters could be offered. Each chapter would
have its own index. There would be a collective index for the whole CEB.

   Majordomo could also be programmed to send out a Majordomo file every
week that explained how to use Majordomo & what it had to offer. This
would keep newbies from asking a lot of questions. Our Majordomo would
also develop a reputation as the distributor of the Internet's best
knowledge base for crypt software locations, evaluations & electronic
privacy concerns. Later, Majordomo could be programmed to automatically
send out daily or weekly updated versions of the Cypherpunks' Electronic
Book to related interest groups such as Sci.Crypt & Politics.Crypt.
Note: From this point on in the text, I will use the term CEB to denote
Cypherpunks' Electronic Book.

   CEB would be THE reference for the statuses for all the Cypherpunks'
concerns. Researchers would know immediately what the status was of
their area of work. People who wanted to use electronic privacy products
would know what the best products were, where to find them, & what their
capabilities were. C'punks wanting to make a contribution to the tech-
nology would find where the significant problems were & what needed to
be done. People wanting to find out the reputation & products of a
C'punk could do so quickly. The location of everything of current
value to electronic privacy could quickly be found in CEB.

   CEB is a badly needed counterpart to the Cypherpunks' list. Our
list is disorderly, huge, & things get lost in it. For instance, recent-
ly, there was a post about PGS (pretty good PGP shell). It was stated
that PGS was a very good product. But, if we are distracted by interest-
ing threads & monthes pass, we might have a terrible time finding PGS.
With a well indexed CEB, we would immediately find PGS. Another example
is WNSTORM. This is a greatly needed piece of software. After some
months pass, we may wonder "is WNSTORM any good?", "who wrote it?",
"where can I find it?", "what was its name?", "has it solved the patter-
ened lower order bits problem?", "has it been obsoleted by another
steganography program?".With a good CEB, we could immediately know the
answers to these questions. Another example is the Windows implemen-
tation of PGP. I only found out about it because I made a post suggest-
ing that a good Windows implementation of PGP could greatly popularize
encryption. Julietta, then sent another post saying that that software
had not been done well from a user friendly point of view. Is Julietta
right? Is it user unfriendly or not? With a refereed CEB we would know.
With a comprehensive CEB, I would have known of its existance.

   The CEB would constitute a "finished" product. It would look pro-
fessional, refereeing would guarantee its quality, & it would have a
feeling of completeness magnitudes beyond the list. It would also give
experienced & skilled Cypherpunks their own medium without being swamp-
ed out by the work of the less capable - a joy for the Elite & Elitists!

                        CEB CAN START NOW
   All that it takes to start CEB is some cooperation from Eric Hughes
in making some changes to Majordomo & in appointing referees. We've
got the material to start typing immediately. CEB can start out as a
high quality booklet. It will grow as C'punks add to it & we might very
well wind up selling yearly editions of it to Loompanics & other quality
pubs. Possibly, later, CEB could finance the Cypherpunks' mailing list.
Many capable C'punks are tired of having their best work buried & would
gladly contribute to CEB. Anybody got any ideas?

                                                     Yours Truly,
                                                     Gary Jeffers
                                           PUSH EM BACK! PUSH EM BACK!
                                           WWWAAAYYY  BBBAAACCCKK!
                                           BBBEEEAAATTTT  STATE!