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Reader Comments:

From: Neil Charlesworth, 02/10/2000
Your point about AOL's threading capabilities is well taken. Perhaps though, to call the 'weak' is understating the problem. Frequently using the AOL Usenet 'section'
(I hesitate to call it a client) the threading is so confusing that it would be better were messages not to be threaded
at all.

Heres to the AOLers like me who have discovered Forte Free Agent and free news servers.


From: Gina Weber, 10/19/99
The article titled "The Wrong Side of Passwords" was very interesting and made a very good point about how the internet is making theft not more abundant, but a lot quicker to do. I'm referring to the last page where it says: "Fashion designs aren't stolen and copied because of the internet; the process is simply speeded up." The internet has definitely sped things up in a lot of areas for a lot of people. While the internet has benefited a great number of people with this speedy information connection, it could also be of great harm to many. The wrong people could find out the wrong information on how to do very bad things outside of their computer life. These people can also change already existing information making inaccurate data and information. These ideas are also mentioned in the article, and are points that I never thought of before. This issue is of great importance to society as a whole and I agree that some kind of regulations should be implemented to prevent society from harm.


From:David Henson, 5/16/98
Using the old "pendulum" analogy, how long will it be before the political pendulum swings back towards the right, or do you think it is an inevitability that a free society will steadily head towards radical interpretations of "the pursuit of happiness" to eventually include even aberrant behavior as commonly accepted? (Yes I know it depends on how I define "aberrant", but you know what I mean)

Net.Wars is a fascinating book, one that entertains and informs. Wendy has a particularly readable style, and I think I learned more from this book than any other about the net. Kudos to Wendy Grossman. Sign her up for another one! Until then, I will continue reading Melville and Twain.

I found "net.wars" to be a thoroughly fascinating and engrossing book. It also gave me hope in the human race to see that you actually posted the entire book on the web! That makes it especially easy to explore the links. If you have any further information about your organization, please send it my way. I have only just begun my surfing of the net, but Wendy's book has helped further my knowledge tremendously. I also found her writing style particularly readable. I am time-limited right now, and must go, but I again wish to stress that net.wars is an outstanding book, and I have recommended it to all my "browsing" friends. Thank you!
[see author's response]


Kevin Cummings, 4/30/98
I'm grateful you decided to post net.wars to the WWW. The purpose of academic writing has *always* been to share information with a wider audience. The WWW is the perfect vehicle for meeting that goal.

Would it be possible for you to convert this text to the popular DOC format that is used on the PalmPilot? This text would make a great addition to the growing list of available, portable E-texts.


From:Barry Brown, 3/9/98
How far back can you realistically go? Your book is titled NetWars, so I think it's appropriate to stick with networks. I was very active in my local BBS scene during its heyday. If you weren't yourself involved, perhaps you can interview BBSers and write a second book focussing entirely on the numerous sub-cultures that existed there. One of the things I find fascinating is that, for the most part, BBSs weren't internetworked, so BBS communities tended to be isolated and detached from one another. This gave rise to different dialects, software preferences, and manners of getting together in "real life," even among BBSers in the same city.
[see author's response]


From:Barry Brown, 1/22/98
A good read. Enjoyed it a lot. Brought back many memories of early Internet for me..
[see author's response]


From: Mark Newton, 1/7/98
Privacy is a big one -- The right to choose who you will reveal yourself to is very important. At the moment we don't have that right: For example, I have no idea whether the email address I have entered above will end up getting sold to a bulk email company (for that very reason, *nothing* will convince me that it's good to enter a real, honest-to-god postal address on a web page merely because the web page asks for it; But that's common sense, innit?). I resent the fact that I cannot control the dissemation of that personal information -- Even though it parallels the level of control I have in RealLife, where personal data is routinely sold to the highest bidder.

An important related issue is crypto: Slowly it's becomming evident that Governments *can not* regulate crypto (and it's been obvious forever that they *should not* regulate it). I want, need, and will utilize the ability to protect my communications and data from evesdroppers, Government or otherwise, whenever I see fit. In RealLife I can protect against evesdroppers by having a conversation somewhere private (reminiscent of spy movies where private conversations are invariably carried out in front of the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument). I expect to be able to ensure similar levels of privacy if and when I decide I need it for my online interactions. As the crypto nuts say, "Should it be illegal to speak in a language the Government doesn't understand?"
[see author's response]

From: Raj Rangarajan, 1/7/98
While privacy is a prime concern for Netizens, with due importance for security, it is imperative that the privilege of free communication is not abused or misused. While graphic porno materials in the wrong hands could be damaging to vulnerable minds, we cannot expect to act as Censor, or Gatekeeper or even Toll collector on the Super Highway that is the Internet.
[see author's response]


Responses by the Author, Wendy Grossman:

Response to David Henson
Actually, I'm not sure what you mean.

What's odd about this comment is that almost everyone I know believes society has been swinging steadily to the right for the last decade and a half. In many ways Clinton's administration is more conservative than some of the Republican administrations that preceded it (for example, in policies regarding welfare).

But I assume what you're asking is whether or not society will ever return to our image of the 1950s: the perfect two-child family with little divorce, homosexuality, or sexual permissiveness to mar the horizon. I don't know (nor am I sure how this relates to net.wars). I have to say, though, that if that's what you meant I hope not, because accompanying that apparent idyll was a huge amount of repression that made a lot of people thoroughly miserable.

If, on the other hand, you meant that society has gone overboard in certain types of legal compensation and is becoming absurdly insistent on trying to find a risk-free existence, then I'd have to say, yes, I do hope the pendulum swings and we learn to remember that, as Edmund Whittemore put it in Sinai Tapestry: No one is safe and there is no security, just life itself.

[see comment]

Response to Barry Brown (3/9/98)
I would love to do a book like that. I wasn't involved myself, no -- I thought about getting a modem as early as 1984, but was deterred by BT's rule that only they could supply them and by the lousy quality of the phone lines in Ireland. I did, however, start on CIX in 1991, which displays a lot of the unique subculture you're talking about. A certain amount of that has to do with the design of the software (as I talk about in the AOL chapter).

[see comment]

Responses (February '98)
Hi...glad you all could make it, and thanks for commenting.

Mark Newton...I certainly hope the email address you entered here won't be sold to a bulk email company. But the bulk email companies don't typically pay for addresses; instead, they scoop them up from public newsgroups, Web sites, and forums/message boards on CompuServe and AOL using automated software. The people who pay are the smaller businesses and scam artists, through ignorance or general obnoxiousness.

Even before the Net came along, friends and I used to comment that it would be only fair if companies had to pay you a small amount in commission when they resold your name and personal information. In Europe, of course, there are laws limiting what companies can do with the mailing and sales lists they collect, and these laws are expected to pose a problem for US businesses, who have traditionally had no such requirements but will have to conform to EC law in order to do business.
[see comment]

I'm not sure what Raj Rangarajan means there...but it's certainly true that it's a difficult task to balance the competing demands of free speech and privacy.
[see comment]

Barry Brown...I've had a complaint by email that the book doesn't go back far enough, that like many other writers I have ignored the very active BBS scene that came before the Internet's spread. I never really took to the few BBSs I tried, unless you want to class CIX ( as a BBS. But I do wish I'd been around Usenet in the days when you could read the entire set of newsgroups in an hour.

[see comment]

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