1995-07-20 - Re: “Cypherpunks Write Code” as a Putdown

Header Data

From: lmccarth@cs.umass.edu (L. McCarthy)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com (Cypherpunks Mailing List)
Message Hash: 06a2ce6ed6c70347f0aa709c49681f5bce3c81f58d5cc0f80998b9bbbba1bab7
Message ID: <9507202311.AA12637@cs.umass.edu>
Reply To: <ac3406e80c0210045a87@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1995-07-20 23:11:21 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 20 Jul 95 16:11:21 PDT

Raw message

From: lmccarth@cs.umass.edu (L. McCarthy)
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 95 16:11:21 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com (Cypherpunks Mailing List)
Subject: Re: "Cypherpunks Write Code" as a Putdown
In-Reply-To: <ac3406e80c0210045a87@[]>
Message-ID: <9507202311.AA12637@cs.umass.edu>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Tim May writes:
> Take it or leave it, as an analysis, but the "try writing some code" is a
> meaningless insult.
[more good comments elided]

Agreed. I concur with Tim's further comments, which I've omitted, on the
meaning of "Cypherpunks write code".  It's clear that the qualifications for
being a critic (in the constructive sense) of activity XYZ differ from the
requirements for doing XYZ, in the general case. This is the old "Oh, if
you're so smart, let's see you do it better" from elementary school. Absurd.

One of the primary sources of this dispute is, I think, the fact that c'punks
have widely divergent target markets in mind. I was rather surprised to
observe this at the last Bay Area physical meeting. Sandy moderated a
prognostication session on the future of cryptoanarchy, etc. Towards the end, 
he asked each person to offer his/her definition of "victory" in the
cryptoanarchic program. Some people were adamant that privacy would need to be
widely protected across society for them to consider the project a success.
Others essentially asserted that they'd be content with what I'll call "the
cypherpunk community" enjoying free access to privacy-preserving tools. 

The various *n*x crypto tools go a long way toward satisfying one market, yet
don't appear to help much with another market. So they constitute a "big win"
for some c'punks, while remaining largely irrelevant for others.

It would behoove c'punks on
all sides not to take umbrage at others' embracing different goals. It
would be great to hear persuasive arguments as to why "we" should adopt your
plan, but "we" are under no obligation to be convinced, or to place any
particular value on the achievement of aims we don't share with you.

The significant segregation of software developers and
software users onto different platforms makes the disunity of purpose much
more of an issue than it would be otherwise. A conscious effort must be 
exerted to ensure that tools developed for the cognoscenti ;) have a
chance to run on the machines owned by the rest of the multiverse. For my
money, this is the best feature of platform-independent languages, etc. 
Ideally, Java and such will afford me the opportunity to write code for, say,
the Macintosh, which could compete with native code, without my having to
break down and use a Mac (gag).

On a related note, this summer I've broken down and found myself developing
software in Tcl under VMS. (I'm typing this on a VAXstation 4000 VLC.) Bob
Snyder has recommended exmh here before, a highly MIME- and PGP-aware mailer
for *n*x which is apparently built with Tcl/Tk. Apart from the discussions
of possibly using Safe-Tcl for remailers, I haven't seen much talk of using
Tcl/Tk for crypto apps here. Can anyone point me in the direction of work on
this front, or towards reasons why Tcl/Tk seems like a poor choice ?  I'm
still pretty new to Tcl.

-L. Futplex McCarthy <lmccarth@cs.umass.edu>
"Want to put your secret files where no-one will ever be able to access them ?
 Try ftp://ftp.netcom.com/pub/"