Notes to Chapter 2
notes to chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

All the Web addresses included were checked when we went online, but some, inevitably, may have moved or changed.

  1. A personal prediction: Web-based home shopping will not kill off live shopping, although it may push retailers to make it more interesting, efficient, and fun. Grocery shopping over the Web has its limitations, at least in the early trial I joined in late November 1996. What you got was essentially a list of products from which you compiled a shopping list. You couldn't look up further information about unfamiliar items, or request labeling information such as ingredients, vital for people with allergies. However, the format is extremely promising, not least because this particular trial includes the facility for adding a note to each item to help the person who assembles your order. If you prefer underripe bananas, or want the labels checked on unfamiliar brands, you can note this. That human element seems most likely to make the project a success, although it raises the strange image of a half-empty store populated largely by staff shopping for other people. But the potential is clear for boring, unpleasant routine shopping for categories like groceries and office supplies, where you're typically ordering the same heavy or bulky items over and over again.
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  1. Laurence A. Canter and Martha S. Siegel, How to Make a Fortune on the Information Superhighway (HarperCollins 1994). <back to text>
  1. My comments are based on the version archived at Other versions have slight differences (such as the more common originating email address <back to text>
  1. A news server stores all the many news articles, or postings, that make up Usenet at each service provider; to get news, subscribers tap into this server and retrieve new articles from the groups they subscribe to. <back to text>
  1. To read news, you need a newsreader. On the university systems that most of the academic community (a very large percentage of those with access to Usenet at the time) would have been using, there were several in common usage, all of which have facilities to let you choose ("subscribe to") the newsgroups you want to read and display the messages on the same subject in such a way that you can see at a glance how they interrelate, a technique called "threading." As you read the messages in a given group (on Usenet, usually called articles, or postings), the newsreader marks them as "read" so that if you stop partway through you can come back and pick up where you left off. <back to text>
  1. An early version is archived at The letter is followed by a list of names and addresses, which vary over time, along with a bunch of testimonials, allegedly from happy participants in the chain, and tells the story of "Dave Rhodes," who in 1988 was broke but within six months became "RICH!" following these simple instructions. <back to text>
  1. "Net.Legends FAQ (Noticeable Phenomena of Usenet)," maintained by David DeLaney and archived at <back to text>
  1. More on Rhodes and other early spam is in "The Battle for Usenet," by Charles A. Gimon, at <back to text>
  1. The original message is archived at Medical researchers generally are doubtful that this product can do what's claimed for it. For more on health claims and their regulation, see chapter 15. A run-down of the evidence (or lack thereof) is at
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  1. Stanton McCandlish, newsletter editor and program director/webmaster for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, noted in a posting dated October 3, 1995, that he believes the term "spam" was first used in 1993 or even earlier to describe loud, repetitive ranting on the role- playing services known as MUDs (or MOOs, MUSHes, or MUCKs). The posting is archived at
    . article <back to text>
  1. Personal archive of contemporaneous messages posted by Internet Direct on its gopher server. <back to text>
  1. Canter and Siegel, How to Make a Fortune, 22, 27. <back to text>
  1. Ibid., 200. The rules for posting to Usenet were originally written by net.god Gene Spafford and are now part of the help system at Deja News ( ).
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  1. Mark Harrison, The Usenet Handbook: A User's Guide to Netnews (O'Reilly and Associates, 1995), 10. <back to text>
  1. Canter and Siegel, How to Make a Fortune, 17. <back to text>
  1. Ibid., 187, 204-5. <back to text>
  1. Ibid., 180. <back to text>
  1. Ibid., 217. <back to text>
  1. These IDs are a mix of letters and numbers that include the name of the machine on which the posting was written and a numerical identifier. The derivation of this varies from system to system, but is usually something like the number of seconds since the machine was turned on or some other non-duplicable number.
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  1. These appear in the "Better Living Through Forgery FAQ," posted regularly to news.admin.policy and <back to text>
  1. A binary file is any type of computer file that isn't plain text, such as a program, picture, video, or audio file. There are special newsgroups (alt.binaries.*) just for these files, which are generally not welcome in the rest of Usenet because they tend to consume a lot of space. In addition, because Usenet was designed as a text-based system (like email), binary files must be split into small chunks and converted into text characters for transmission. The user then has to collect all the pieces and use special software to stitch them back together and decode them.<back to text>
  1. On the so-called Big Seven hierarchies of Usenet newsgroups--comp, sci, talk, rec, news, soc, and misc--starting a new newsgroup is a formal procedure that involves proposing the newsgroup, collecting comments, and finally taking a vote and posting the results. The intention is to keep the list of newsgroups orderly and populated with groups for which there is real demand. Other hierarchies work differently, notably the alt hierarchy, which was deliberately created to bypass these formal procedures and allow anyone to start a group on any subject; people are still encouraged to collect comments, but there is no voting procedure as such.
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  1. More information about how cancelers operate is in the "Cancel Message F A Q , " maintained by Tim Skirvin and available at This also includes useful information on how to proceed if you think one of your own postings was canceled by someone else or if you have reason to believe someone is sending out forged postings in your name. <back to text>
  1. In computing, the asterisk is a "wild card" character that stands for any number of letters. It's also a useful shorthand for quoting newsgroup names, where saying something like* means any newsgroup whose name begins, leno , and so on. If you just say you would be referring to just that newsgroup.
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  1. Source: "Cancelmoose[tm] Home Page," <back to text>
  [chapter 2 notes continued]


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