Re: Transparent Society

Holger Wagner (
Thu, 6 Nov 1997 12:11:24 +0100 (MET)

On Wed, 5 Nov 1997, Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:

> Perhaps Brin's and my discomfort with cypherpunks is only that,
> but I think it is more: as I said, in my experience, those who
> attach great value to preventing the spread of information about
> themselves I find strange. It is not a reasoned judgment, only
> an emotional reaction, but it is a prejudice that serves me.

I've thought a little bit about this (because at first I found it a
really weird statement). I myself always was very 'open' with
information about me, not really paying attention on who might read my
eMail, for an instance.

Unfortunately, it turned out that the wrong people DID read SOME of my
private mail, and got a completely wrong impression. Now I have to say
that anybody who writes anything not adressed to a public (like in
mailing-lists) unencrypted is simply naive. The problem is not that much
revealing something about your personality, but people who only get parts
of the information and misunderstand it - without you having control over
that. The greatest 'threat' I see is simply being quoted out of context
by people with prejudices - and not even getting the opportunity of
straightening such things out.

> I suppose I should also note that this group in particular is
> very good at finding exceptions to my generalizations. For
> example, on the net in general, I find that a silly "handle" is
> usually a quick way to sort out those who probably don't have
> to be taken seriously. Indeed, I dicovered Extropy institute
> before I started subscribing to the list, but dismissed it at
> first because I had a hard time taking seriously anything
> founded by guys using the names "Max More" and "Tom Morrow" (or
> wherever he puts the zeros).

Same thing here: 'quoting out of context'. You could say that by giving
yourself such a name, you provoke misunderstandings - on the other hand,
why not express certain ideas in your name? Simply put: if you miss
something interesting by prejudice (people with 'freaky' names can't be
taken seriously or the like), it's your own fault.

> I've since discovered that those
> handles have serious minds behind them, as do "The Low Golden
> Willow", "Hara Ra", and others. Outside this list, I continue
> to save time by not reading anything with an name like that
> attached to it, unless it is specifically referred to me, but
> here on this list I can't use that filter.
> So I'm sure the cypherpunks in this group don't fit the mold
> of those I've met elsewhere, either.

Maybe the problem is people identifying themselves with something like
'cypherpunk'. This is, btw, one thing I'd criticise about Extropianism:
in many places, you can read something like 'Extropians do this or that'.
It may not be a problem for people who understand extropianism because I
think it's quite explicitely about diversity and openness, but with any
closed group, where people identify themselves with the group (with
statements like "I'm a pothead", or "I'm a communist"), I've often seen
how people hide their identity behind a group-name, which might explain
why some of 'cypherpunks' are not really interesting (and I still would
first listen to what such a person has to say)