geert lovink on Mon, 14 May 2001 20:40:51 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> (posted with permission)

From: "Andreas A. Milles" <>
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2001 8:58 PM
Subject: Interview with Clifford Stoll

Cliff stoll by train on the way to hamburg:
1st class. Leaving leipzig along the way to hannover. two hours in the
train. passing dessau, magdeburg, reaching hannover.
first, we were talking about his new book, about his "Killer Application" in
the recent years, and about my job at nc3 WEBcreativ, a company that does
live streams and onDemand Video Productions.

A. Cliff, what are you thinking of at the moment ?

C. Iīm thinking of peer-to-peer video streaming, peer-to-peer communication.
Another reason why this is a good way of distributing information is because
it can take place, when no one is around. unlike central database, where
everything is stored in one location. You can download it, copy it. Donīt
have to wait until its free on the central server and you donīt have to
block the server with hundreds of thousands of requests.
It has the disadvantage of the more random, less predictible connection.
Iīm surprised, thereīs no video, or video streaming equivalent to napster -
it has to happen. someone must say "oh! instead of just connecting music,
here is video clips, movies". I imagine, some time people are going to
exchange video tapes or movies - the same way they exchange music. Seems
almost obvious. it will take longer, but when T1 or T3 lines get more
common, how long does it take to download a movie on a T3 line ?

A. Actually there has been some filesharing systems for movies, for example but most of this projects have problems with copyright or
charging. For whom can this be an efficient system.

C.Oh, for everyone. for business. For large business, suppose youīre a big
firm, like IBM, with offices around the world. And you have some information
you want to pass in all offices. Donīt store it on a central server and say
"look at this" - much easier, much more efficient to say "distribute this".
download it and distribute it as often as you wish.
For technical manuals, say, I have some documentation on a software for
example, if youīre lucky the website is cached at a few places, so you donīt
have to go around the world looking for it. But isnīt it more efficient to
cache it, or to store it, on peer-to-peer basis ? So you donīt have to go
through a firewall, its stored locally. And stored without a central site
That results in higher storage process, but with intelligent servers, some
of that can be reduced. We say, we keep five copies in this city, and the
rest we throw away. Seems reasonable to me!
Perhaps peer-to-peer web servers might help to administrate the web in the
future - I mean, why should there be a single website, itīs static
information, when you can distribute it, extremely wide distribute it, so
itīs available on many webservers under one ficticious IP address. Mh,
curious !

A. What does this mean for less searched information, I mean, if only the
popular information is spread? you will have always madonnas latest album in
the top50, but isnīt this like a filter to distribute only big commercial
stuff, and the other information drops out of the "top 100" list?

C. Oh, no no! It helps the information that is not so often used, because it
frees up bandwidth. If everyone is logging in to download madonnas latest
hit or something on a distant server, everything is clogged up. common
things are filling up the pipe. If information is stored in a more efficient
way, connecting near by peers, near by computers, so the backbone is less
heavily loaded.
Problem is, like everything else on the internet, that a few things are
heavily used, and you canīt predict in advance.
I think there should be more studies of how to widely distribute
See one reason why this is not done is because most of the hightech places
like silicon valley, seattle, berlin, frankfurt are so heavily connected to
the web, that you never notice the delays. But way out in mongolia, in
arizona, you do notice it. Because you donīt have a hundred connexions, you
have 3 or 4 connections.
Oh, look at that windmills over there.

A. Huge thing. 5 years ago, it was a big problem to build an own windmill
here in germany, say in your garden or to produce your own energy. It was
almost unthinkable, but now the support through public funds are better.

C. Oh really ? now you can ? its easy to get a license ? when you īve been
in california, did you see that large windmill farm ?

A. Yes, I know them, the park  beside the highway, right ?

C. thatīs huge. They went through bankrupcy 10 years ago. They were built 20
years ago, and 10 years ago they went bankrupt. Some firm bought for a real
small price. 3 years ago, prize on electricity rose that it was completely
profitable, and the people who purchased these, put a dollar in their
pocket, every time the wind blows. And the result is, theyīre building
another hundred of them, in this area.

A. Donīt you think this is comparable with new business at the moment ?
Everything was very very optimistic with e-business and e-commerce, but the
thing totally blew up, and every one is figuring out, how to make money with
it. You are owner of an e-commerce shop, too. What do you sell?

C. I have a tiny site called kleinbottles where I sell those little glasses,
mathematical shapes on it.
Thereīs one thing I decided about the e-commerce:
First the easy part of e-commerce is the web part. Making a web page,
building a secure server, having an e-commerce server. All oft that is easy.
The difficult part is the mechanic part. The operational mechanical part of
getting a product to the customer. Very difficult ! And this is not hight
tech - this is very low tech stuff. Things like putting things in a box.
Making sure the box has the correct adress. Making sure that its gets onto a
truck. Figuring out the best way to get something from here to there.
The problems are a little bit similiar to the web information distribution.
For example: I have a product, and I want overnight service - in any place
in the world. Ok, now it would be very nice to say "Where ever you are, you
get this tomorrow". Now there is two ways to do that: the first is you have
the fastest airship that is available, and as soon I get your order, I put
the thing in a box, take it to the airport and send it to you. Now, that
costs a fortune. A million of dollars, no one can . - unless youīre selling
diamond rings, . afford that. Just not possible.
The other way to do it, is to have a distributed source of products around
the world.
Which means, in every major city you have stock of products, all boxed, all
ready. All you do is send a message to a warehouse, saying "take this and
put it in the mail today". Send it over night mail to somebody lives in your
area. That would work well. Now what is missing is networks of warehouses,
network of commercial sites who were willing to take packages, store them,
and then on demand send them out quickly. People must be thinking of this.
I think the problem with e-commerce just is: itīs not the computer, itīs not
the website. Itīs entirely getting something to someone quickly.
Most of the time, it takes a week, and this just not acceptable.
I think someone will make a lot of money, because there is a lot of small
business. food, cloth, or items, that people want does to them, what
caching, peer to peer communication does to information. Instead of having a
central site, where you have to send everything out. distribute information
widely, so that itīs nearby to where you are. And if itīs not available you
can go to a central site, and download it.

A. With a not so stuffed line . maybe this is a solution for small shops
like we saw in the mainstation mall, the stores  that are said to be .

C. .pushed aside. Yeah. The Mall has the problem, the shops in the mall have
the problem, they are not good in sending things away. They do not have a
shipping department. I think someone will invent an open distributing
company that says  anyone, anything, say, daimlerchrysler has a parts
department in any city, and I want to buy a tire. They can deliver it to me
at the same day. But if want the same thing from toyota, I have to call a
different place. Some one will create a distribution for any kind of
product. For anyone. Say BMW, General Motors, you can use my warehouse. Send
me your parts, I will keep them barcoded in my house, I will have a
distribution department in every big city. And then, send an email, itīll be
secured, pgp protected email, what you want, where to send it - youīll have
it next day. whoever invents that - people must be thinking this way, will
make a fortune. Especially because crossing national boundaries is a huge
problem, so that if you have instead a large number of little international
packages, each one is delayed, inspections, customers, you only have to
transport a small number of huge packages once through the customs. So
everything is delayed in advance. So customs is a little bit like IP

A. ..ok, I see, maybe just a little bit. Did this way of your thinking come
through web itself, or just after the napster thing, the invention of

C. Well, napster was the classic example. But the odd thing is that
peer-to-peer communication as a network grew out of a work that nixdorf did,
15 or 20 years ago. Nixdorf were doing p2p things on computer, I remember
reading a paper from them and thought, hey great idea, and at that time they
worked on to reduce disk drive space. Disk space was very expensive, and
they were interested in passing information from one machine to another. So
that everyone would be informed, but you would not have the file. You would
lowering communications cost and store space. So, itīs not new. But napster
now often is called "mother of information distribution". And you know that
thereīs a lot of Napster lookalikes and catalogues. Napster still has the
central server, and thereīs a lot of projects that work without them, whichg
makes it impossible to see like the record companies. Whenever you build a
wall to prevent information sharing there will be someone who finds a way
around. Well, you know this as well as I do.
You could argue that the web itself is peer to peer, it works with no
centralized server. This is because you use the cache system, which is okay.
I was told you have some bandwith problems here around ?

A. Not, not really. They built up all the new fibre lines here the last ten
years and it's said that we have the most modern network in europe, because
itīs all new. On the other hand itīs a little strange, that they push dsl,
which works with the older lines, these whatīs it called - coppe,r right,
while ....

C. Every body else is ISDN. Itīs curious: they made an assumption, that ISDN
was the way to go - it was not. (laugh).

A. For my usage of the net, the faster connection means a really radical
Thereīs almost no more longer waiting times for just surfin around, having
all the information really quick, you open it,  ..

C. Dsl ?

A. Yeah.

C. (laugh) itīs so strange: it reminds me the first time I had a 19600 baud
connection, just changed from 1200 to it was "wow" shshp - itīs so fast I
canīt even read, it was so fast, I couldnīt believe how fast. And now, dsl
is acceptable for graphic and text things but for streaming or highly
interactive things probably not, Iīd rather push for a T1 line.

A. Or for a better compression rate, which made napster real

C. Now whatīs happening is, companies are coming up with, not just video
compression, but with human face compression. A friend of mine is working on
a way to compress the face, model the face, so that instead of transmitting
every color and pixel you have a 3dimensional model of a human being, and as
soon as someone sits down behind the camera it fills in tenthousand details,
whatīs the shirt look like, whats the nose look like, whatīs the size, so in
a short time they measure who you are. Because this is all database stuff,
once it has a picture of you, modelled the 3d conours of your face, the
colours and so on, the amount what you send, of what you talk, how you move
is very small, compression very fast - and for video conference they can
much more devote more bandwith for audio.
And I have seen some displays, very impressive. You can tell itīs been
modelled, but the modelling looks like some very very good artist draws your
face. But itīs moving , your mouth moves, you see your face smile. it looks
plastic, you can see itīs modelled. But I imagine in 5 years it would be a
very real nice way to compress the amount of bandwith we need for a lot of
video conferences. Because what we need is a very good audio, that canīt be

A. I saw an interactive musical between musicians in chicago and new york,
and I was wondering, how could that be possible through the web delay within
30 seconds or so. When I asked the director, I was told that they used the
internet2 possibilities to realize a delay from about 4 to 5 seconds. I
mean, that's amazing. But usually you canīt really broadcast 1:1. Do you
think, time delay will be someday even not be there anymore?

C. One of the reasons for time delay is that the internet IP does not
guarantee time delivery. It doesnīt  guarantee delivery of every packet. But
actually thereīs now a new business, itīs called "guaranteed quality
internet service". A company will purchase from a provider a guaranteed
server, so that no matter where you are in a corporate or educational
environment you donīt have no delay more than 5 seconds.
The way how you do it, is you build up an own network, with your own fibre
everywhere. Thatīs nice, if you can afford it, but phone company wants to do
it with a public way and sell it to any company guaranteed service. And then
they want to prioritize packages like "Iīve been payed a lot for them". And
that is the problem, that firewalls and routers donīt know how to deal with
it. Cool, cool problems. no one really deals with it.

A. And then thereīs just payed packets all over the internet, and  all are
classified who payed what sum of it.

C. Boy, thatīs such a long way, . the network started out. (shiver)

A. You told me you started to connect your computers with the printer first.
What was the next step ?

C. For me, long ago ? you mean, chasing these hackers there ?

A. Yes, but Iīm going to ask for that later.

C. I feel like a fossil now (laugh). In 1980 the expensive things were
computer peripherals: graphic terminals, printers, disks. But by the early
80es Computers itself were low enough cost, you know, commodore was
available, apple II, but highend peripherals were not. So we wanted, we
wanted the internet as a way to to connect to someone elses peripheral, such
as printers. And only along the way did we think "oh! It would be nice to
have email" no one thought this, communication would be useful, powerful.
And so it was a useful lesson to see: As soon as we brought that on, people
began using email, people began sending messages to each other. No one cared
we wanted: to print somewhere else. In fact after a while, no one wanted to
use paper. People wanted to display things on a screen. So that really
started computer graphics. Everything was serial connections, screens had
low resolution.
The idea of the internet: sending graphics and looking things up was
unheared of. No one would think that way. Only by the late 1980s was it
clear that you could do this.
I remember 1977 1978 we would send messages across the internet, just to see
if it worked. Was it connected today, was there something wrong ? Even as
late as 1985 86, I remember one night saying "hm, I disconnect the internet
for the night" because it were a lot of my computers, and because we had
wide area servers. I disconnected the Western Area of the united States.

A. You would just have disconnected the internet for a night ? the whole
internet ?  just because ?

C. Yes. Huh. Just because. Must have been in the mid 80s because we were a
high level node of the network of that time. Itīs all "huh, you know, next
morning I turn it on again", no contemplates, no one would be calling,
angry, I mean it was just not used.  Well, it was used, but not in an
operational sense, it was an experimental toy. And this changed 1986, 1987,
1988. And 1992 it became a commercial hit. Every one went "wow!" people
would find a serious use for this. Very strange, almost, in a strange way,
it paralleled the political change here.
Very odd, to think, the first rumble of the internet, the internet began
late 60s, 68 / 69, which happens to be the time Eastern Europe began
rumbling also. And the great commercial rumble began almost within a year of
the fall of the berlin wall.
And that today the commercialisation of Eastern Europe is with the
commercialisation of the internet.

A. You have been travelling around here in the last couple of months. What
are your feelings, whatīs in your opinion the main difference of the
development of the internet in Europe and the US.

C. My feeling is - oh, I havenīt even mentioned it - my feeling is, that
computers, that the internet is oversold in America, grocely overpromoted.
It is not as heavily promoted in Europe. In Silicon Valley, in California,
there are many outdoor billboards, outdoor posters, that have nothing on
them, except .com so, just say, something like that's all. log
in, find out, what it is. There is a huge amount of promotion today in
America for the internet- in Europe much less. As I look around right now, I
donīt see anything .com - thereīs one: zdf, that's it. for example at the
side of these train cars, they have no .com message. Itīs interesting. In
california everything has a .com on it. There is a social acceptance of the
internet that is widespread. If you do not have email, youīre considered
strange. So my wife studies garedning, she studies, how to cut trees, how to
trim trees, how to make a tree look good. And you may think, thereīs no use
at all for the internet. Instead she says "when I meet other tree trimmers,
theyīre constantly asking for my email adress, so they can send pictures and
postcards of trees that theyīve cut." And how could I show this to you, if
you donīt have an email adress. So, across the bord is this acceptance. You
will be online, you do have an email. Itīs not even a question of "if".
There is also the acceptance of the internet as a social experience. If a
teenager: of course youīll be online, how else can you communicate with your
friends in school. The result is that, itīs pervasive, thereīs a huge
promotion of this, as if it didnīt need a promotion, it is heavily promoted.
My reaction is: probably this is too heavily promoted. The commercial
profitiring from the internet, as well as the loss of certain parts of who
we are, should be examined, criticized, some sceptizism put to it.
And Iīm thinking that technical people may stand to lose, because we are not
being properly critical. that when computer jocks, techis, when technical
people only promote pcs and the internet, without warning: "look, there are
some things, that is not appropriate for. There is some things, ah, youīre
better ways to do it."
And later on, when all the predictions donīt come true, people say - you
promised a wonderful future, you delivered something thatīs much less !
For example in california there is a great promise, that if we wire our
schools together, to the internet, education will be better.

A. Similar here in Germany, with the little known certain differences, itīs
called "Schools on line" Schulen ans Netz, and a competition of phone
companys I pay your flatrate.

C. Yeah ! And then eventually they start charging for it, of course, we are
losing money, or start bringin commercials on.

A. Thereīs a lot of initiatives. But I wonder, if you read in germany,
germany is to be said a little be more sceptical, technically sceptical, are
you attacked harder in the US, do people in germany react different ?

C. Well, I donīt know. For example in the States itīs strange to see, that
mobile phones are less wide spread than here in Germany. Here almost every
one has a mobile phone, that's surpising. Partly because mobile standards
are more developped in Europe. Also because in the States people have been
frustrated by overloaded phone networks, but it is not picked up as quickly
as it has here, and as the internet. The internet has! In that sense the
States are catching up to Germany and France.

C. I anticipate a huge amount of internet traffic within germany. Just look
at you. Itīs obvious, that the Internet is heavily promoted soon. At the
same time I think it will take 10 years, maybe 20 years people recognize
that pushing the internet into schools and into the youngest children, it ll
happen, but it takes ten years before you realize "oh! Thereīs a lot places
youīve gone to far". And it will be a long time before we appreciate the
losses caused by the adoption of the internet. For example libraries: today
people think that you have a great library, if you have an intensed wire to
the internet. Itīs just a collection of books, maybe itīs not so good. The
result is in America the libraies are suffering: they donīt have as many
books, they donīt have as many library staff, but they do have lots of
internet support. But the internet is not why  people go to the library.
They go there for books, for libraries, for papers, for research, but not
for computers, they can get somewhere else.

A. But most of the people use the internet for research, so maybe itīs not
bad, if you have a common access to the internet - this is much different to
germany. I mean,  yesterday you read In the deutsche bücherei, and that is
different I guess.

C. Itīs terrific, I mean, wow!

A. I think computers in school change a lot, but there is a reason for some
classes to have a computer, like landscapes and sciences

C. Oh, yeah ! thereīs plenty of uses for a computer, plenty of uses for the
internet. My own feeling is students especially should learn how to use a
pen. A pencil before a pen, a pen before a pentium. This feeling is not
shared in american educational service. The idea is "hey, letīs start off
with very advanced tools". I think that we are developping a new generation,
very computer literate, very computer handie people, who have no, have
little appreciation for getting by on top these things, also donīt realize
that we are becoming less and less capable of doing other jobs in our life -
we are losing the use of our hands.

A. You describe a lot of examples for that in your new book. What is the
reaction on your book, ist positive?

C. The reaction reaches from support from teachers, support from those
interested in paedology, to rejection from some computer people who say,
wait a second -  computers are a good thing, donīt judge them.
Common reaction is: that the Computer are a tool, donīt judge it, because
itīs a technical neutral thing. Donīt reject computing just because it has
some bad consequences, just because people get computer addicted, itīs not a
computers problem, so just donīt ban computers, just because people spend
playing computers 10 hours a day, or surfing. Thereīs a sense of the
internet is mainly a good thing, with very few negative consequences. There
is a sense of, well, maybe you can critisize films, movies, film critics,
maybe you can have a critizism of television, but the internet is not
something of being critical, thereīs no reviews of content online. Partly
because there is so much, partly because no one is interested how to make a
critical review of the internet.

A. But I donīt have the feeling that you changed since the last time, many
people told me youīre 180 degree turn backwards, from the internet junky to
the internet asket.

C. I havenīt, I īm not a person who tries to get rid of the internet. And I
also try to keep update with whats happening. My feeling is: I like the
technology, I love the computing,  itīs what Iīve done. My skeptizism, my
critizism grows out of the culture of computing, which a little bit is the
culture of california, of the silicon valley.
Iīm critical of the effects on wide spread use. What is the effect of the
internet in the widest sense ? is it only good, is it only bad ? the one
area Iīm most concerned about is the use of computers in school. And itīs
the one area where politicians especially are promoting computers. In
business, I donīt think there are any businesses that do not have some
computers. You canīt run a business, even the smallest restaurant does have
a computer, every bank, every medium sized business earns money with them.
Theyīre perfect for this. What I m asking is: what are places where
computers might not be so well used ? Its not that I donīt want anyone to
use them. I want to preserve the good things about society, and I want
computers to be appreciated, I want the internet to be appreciated for its
power, for its strength. For wonderful things. I donīt want the internet to
be overpromoted, so that we later on we might think of the internet like we
think of the television. Itīs just one entertaining way to waste time.

Passing a Windmill:
A. Speaking of windmills: Do you know about the echelon discussion ?
Some people said that there was a german company that produces windmills was
spied by the echelon. They had a special technology which was stolen by an
american company or something.

C. Really ?

A. Echelon has a huge builidng near munich, too,  itīs a relict of the cold
war, and now itīs used .

C. To spy. Aha, ja. And they stole the technology ?

A. It is said that they spied technology and spied out the big deals, like
for BOEING and other American companies.

C. Really ? I know that there is been a big debate in the nsa and cia about
wheter they should be engaged in commercial spying, I know that there. I
thought the debate came to the conclusion that it was okay to do generic,
economic spy of the type that says, this country is probably going to have
ten million tons of corn, that they will grow in the next five years. That
kind of more statistical things. But that economic spying for commercial
exploitation was committed for absolutely forbidden. That was my
understanding, but I donīt know.

A. There was a debate beacause the german company didnīt get license for
selling their windmills in the US. Because of some copyright things on

C. Really ? Really ?? Wow. How can you copyright a windmill ? I donīt know.
I know that the new windmills in california have a new technology, and I
know that is popular, because the generator is at the ground, and that saves
a lot of money, when the generator is on the ground everything is
lightweight repairing and weight and so on.  And maybe that's the design
they have stolen, maybe that's originally german design !

A. I donīt know for sure. But that's a good point to bring the topic on the
hacker story and your relation to the NSA.

C. Oh yeah. A million years ago. I visited the NSA three or four times and
talked to people there. My impression of the NSA, I used to be very paranoic
in thinking, theyīre always spying everything. My impression was, that the
were good for spying in the cold war but with the end of the cold war they
were looking around, what do we do now ? how can we - whats our role ? and
Iīm not very paranoic about the nsa anymore. I just donīt think that their
techniques work, you know. Electronic spying was a really good idea, when
you had radios, but when you have a million handy talks, ten millions
internet sites, I think the nsa just canīt do the things they used to do. I
donīt know much about this, I probably know just this ( presses thumb and
finger together) more than you, just because I visited them. I did not kept
up with them, but 10 years ago, their computers were just obsolete - they
had these giant huge super computers, huge ! Giant ! Massive !
supercomputers that were extremely fast for doing number catching, so they
could crack cyphers. But the important computing is not the big computers,
itīs lots of little ones, they had no experience  with TCP / IP. They had no
experience with wide spread distributed systems, they were very good in
cracking codes and decyphering things, but that's no use today - a
highschool student can make a code that is very difficult to brake. And the
mass of amount of information in the internet - you canīt look at it all.
The fastest spiders canīt catalogue all of the information online. I think
that the wide spread introduction of computing has made the nsaīs job
essentialy lossable. Long ago, they could set up this listening station, in
moscow, and listen to all radio phone transmissions and pick up just the
interesting transmissions for spies. Now - I think they canīt pick up
anymore. Even if they had infinite money, I donīt think they could.

A. So they didnīt seem to you as that strategic future military organization

C. Theyīre very military. The NSA is filled with military people. And like
all military agencya this means a lack of creativity, lack of foresight. I
think the nsa is, I think they are no longer at the cutting edge of
cryptology. theyīre no longer at the cutting edge of data collection, of
listening. Most of all, I donīt think they īre able to do a good job in
electric spying. I think that's just not possible. I donīt think itīs
physically possible. I mean I think to myself, either the internet is
universal available, anyone can spy or else .. Iīm just thinking of
analysing a huge amount of electronic information. I think thatīs a tough
problem. Iīm glad I have nothing to do with the nsa. They must be pretty
upset that, once upon a time, 30 years ago, they had their hands on
electronic communication. And now, they donīt. once upon a time they knew
what  cryptology was, and now they donīt anymore. They no longer control. So
Iīm not paranoid. Iīm the only person on the internet that is not paranoid.
If thereīs someone spying on me, they wonīt learn very much. Itīs not that
you couldnīt do embarassing things - what happened to the world economic
Take the numbers of the credit cards. There will always be theft, people
will always steal things, online and offline, people keep stealing
information, but I donīt think that government agencys will be the main
source of this. I donīt think they have many resources that will be better
than the world wide web.

A. What makes you so sure ?

C. When I came to the NSA they had no idea of the importance of the
internet. Even though the internet was developped by an american milityry
group, the ARPA, they had no foresight at all, the NSA really didnīt know
much about. And so when I came along and stumbled over some hackers, a few
people of the NSA, just a few recognized "hey, this is a serious problem of
the future, how do we protect computers against outsiders ?" it happened
that my work also involved espionage but even if it hadnīt the NSA wouldnīt
be much interested. So I talked to them, I talked to one or two people who
were interested in computer security, they invited me to talk to the central
headquarters and gave a couple of talks and they did not tell me a lot of
how they worked, but it was pretty evident that from their questions and who
they were that they would beginning to start questions about the internet,
what would become the internet. But their interests were not in how do we
use the internet so much as how do we provide protection from the internet.
If put a lot of military computers together how do we protect them from
outsiders. Their interest was primerely defensive at that time, not
offensive. And I was surprised that I knew as much about the internet as
they did. Their question were not  WOW cutting edge, out of this wolrd
stuff, but rather "what constitutes have been puzzled", I mean, straight
forward things that anyone would have asked. Later on, when the internet
developped, naturally the NSA began asking more and more cutting questions,
how can we use the internet use to look and listen rahter than how can we
protect our information online. As time has progressed, I assume, that spy
organizations use the internet widely to collect open source material.
Instead of getting a magazine of vladiwostock, just log in and see who is
doing this. And you expect this - itīs standard open source analysis, or
whatr the people are doing.- using the internet to collect secret things I
think is much more difficult, because, its unlikely, itīs possible, but
unlikely that you going to brake in to someones computer online and steal
information from a targeted computer. Partly because anyone doing secret
stuff is not going to be online - I donīt think the Iraqi missile defense
system uses the internet - maybe it does, but Iīd be surprised, and if it
does, I would be really really be surprised, if itīs not heavily protected.
Second I donīt think the internet is so wide spread that terrorists, people
doing bad things, will use it. For example if youīre a terrorist yxou
probably wonīt have a wide spread electronic linkage to the internet. You
naturally work undercover. You might make a few telephone calls, but you
probably donīt doing it by email. And if you do  use email, youīll do it in
such a way, that no one can follow you.
Terrorist carry bombs, and I donīt think they do use laptops.

A. But I heard that Bin Laden heavily uses .

C. Itīll happen! Itīll happen within the next 5 or 10 years. As I talk about
I realize, you know, you expect terrorists will use laptops. And electronic
terrorism, rather using bombs, more spreading viruses, spreading electronic
paranoia by way of viruses and things like that - I donīt think it's a very
successful way to change a system - it gets your name in the newspaper. It
gets publicity but it doesnīt destroy a company, it doesnīt destroy an
embassy, it doesnīt destroy a military installation. It rather attracts
attention. Viruses attracted attention, because it was new, but it doesnīt
affect day to day operation. This goes on.
What else can you say about the hackers that stole the credit crad numbers
at the world economic forum ? it did not destroy the WEF. It probably didnīt
even slow them down for anything  worse than an afternoon more of work. And
in the future they will have more security.

A. If someone called you now, and asked if you can help him out like the
credit cards have been stolen or some passwords, would you help them out ?

C. About who ? the world economic forum ?

A. Yes. For example.

C. No. I, I, If somebody called me, Iīd  say "yep, so what ?" I think itīs
unethical to steal credit card information - from anyone, bill gates or
little tiny hole in the wall company. But I donīt think I, I have no
agreement with either the technique of stealing information, and I have no
agreement with the goals of the world economic forum. In that sense, Iīm not
on either side. I am pleased to see the internet used to voice a wide
variety of political opinions. Itīs interesting to see how the WTO has been
heavily hacked, there are web sites that have mirrored images of the WTO,
that make fun at it, and laugh at it, and show it to be a fraud, or a secret
organization. I find it delightful that there is groups that are against
globalization. Who promote small markets, small agricultures, small firms,
and small business. Iīm glad to see people  making fun of the World Economic
Forum, at the World Trade Organization.
However I donīt think you will destroy these by the internet. No, quite the
opposite. These organizations take advantage of the internet just like every
one else. The WTO has its own mailing lists, has its own discussion groups.
And should a hacker brake in, they would be embarassed. But all this is:
embarassement, just as mostly computer brake ins caused emabarassement,
rather than major financial losses. Banks for instance, probably spend much
more money on security than they lose due to theft and hacking.

A. Sure.

C. A big bank might lose a million dollars, because of stealing, because of
hacking, but they spend hundreds of millions of dollars on security. good
computer security balances the amount you lose, with the amount that you
secure. And if you spend a huge amount on data security, and no one steals
anything, maybe it's a mistake. Maybe you should be spending just enough to
reduce the loss to something acceptable.

A. To come back to the hackers you caught "a million years ago". What are
your feelings about them - were they electronic terrorists ?

C. No. They felt, some of them felt that there is a great way to make money.
By stealing information and selling them. They lacked imagination. They
didnīt have the foreside to see that the way to make money from the internet
is not by stealing secret information and selling it. No, the way to make
money from the internet is to develop software that people can use and
selling it. The way to make money from the internet in 1986 / 87 was to
begin to build the foundations of the world wide web. People like yahoo and
AOL those things hadnīt been created yet. The way to make money was not
stealing and selling military information. Rather it was to develop an AOL.
Which was, . In the mid 1980s these guys would have going out and start
their own yahoo and today they would be billionaires ! with, you know, too
much money, so that they would need shovels.
They lacked the imagination and the foresight to see what the internet would
develop into.
I did too ! itīs not, that I didnīt. I lacked the foresight to see that the
internet would be revolutionary. But the lesson I learned was that honesty
and openess, which is essentially, for example what yahoo does, I mean itīs
just an open catalogue of information. Makes a lot more money, than stealing

A. Do you know about the myth of the hacker story ?

C. Oh yeah, 23 and all that stuff.

A. Did you see the movie ?

C. No, it didnīt come to the states, no one made me a copy, so Iīve never
seen it. What I know about the hackers, the love affair with the illuminati,
the idea that the number of 23 was somehow magic. It was an emersion of
paranoia, science fiction, with a high tech world also with the mistaken
idea that one person would cause a revolution. Change the way, governments
behave. No, I donīt think so. The big revolution of the 1980s did not happen
from a paranoids view of hightech, the big revolution happenend when a lot
of people walked together in leipzig. A march starting at a church going on
the ring an returning made a much more important change in human history
than some hackers braking in some computers. The technological development
of the internet did not happen because of hackers braking into computers, it
happened partly because people worked hard to connect computers together, to
see a mutual benefit from this. It happened because people were devolping
software, not because they were stealing information. It happened not
because people were paranoid or afraid of spies, rather because people were
trusting that collaboration between computers would be good for everyone.
The internet was developped despite people braking into computers. Sharing
of information happened, because people saw a mutual profit, a mutual
And not by stealing and selling it to an adversary. I think that you make
much much more money by developping new things, than by stealing things. I
think itīs the history of eastern europe spy agencies, too.
Eastern europe technique. Iīm changing subject a little bit, but its

A. No, no, no problem.

C. From 1970 - 1990 eastern europe computing was dominated by this idea: we
will steal IBM computers, we will copy them. We will get a 360, and
duplicate them, make another 360. and that's the way we make money. And that
was a failure. It was a failure because instead of creating something new,
something wonderful new, you take something that is already successful and
copy it. But no one wanted it, because there is no advance. it might be
cheaper, but its not doing a new service.
The new thing the internet has done ist that it's a completely new way of
solving problems. Real progress comes from innovation and creation,
creativity, and the question should be, how can we build a new service in
the internet. And not: how can we just duplicate things. As long as you say:
we make a new browser, who cares ?
I already have a way to make e-commerce happen online. And so for me, I
donīt see new e-commerce service is being important any longer. The big
development of the past year, I think has been napster. Not just because it
serves music, but because it technically takes advantage of a peer-to-peer
service. No one had really seen it, people have seen it before, but no one
had seen an application for it.
What are new ways to exploit the internet, that no one has seen before ?
thatīs the interesting question rather than how can we duplicate ?
How do we spread useful information rather than how will we brake things,
steal things, spread viruses. Itīs strange that we have not yet seen useful
viruses. Viruses that spread good things.

A. That's a good point.

C. Will it happen, that someone will develop a good virus. That spreads
useful information or useful techniques.

A. Without the people knowing what it does ?

C. Without them knowing it. I could imagine, people have proposed, which
would spread from computer to computer and repair  a problem in the
Operating System. So, if there were a bug in MS Windows, I could imagine,
someone spreading a virus that would fix that and would do nothing else. No
one has ever done this. No one ever has created such a virus. People must
think about such things! These things are done consciouscly. But you could
see how to do this, in a very controlled way. So in way .

A. Like distributing patches.

C. Yeah.

A. I think that would cause a greater confusion, whether to decide "Is it
bad or good"? But there is great projects in collaboration already, great
open source projects, and in connection computers together like SETI.

C. Oh yeah, yeah.

A. What do you think of SETI ? Will they be successful ?

C. A good idea. I donīt think they will be successful for technical reasons.
Namely that you cannot have a . Iīm sad, because I donīt there is someone
trying to communicate with us. I think it maybe that thereīs no one out
there. It might be that no one is sending any messages to us, in that case
its sad. But SETI is a great thing. Itīs a great way to use computers,
distribute around the world in the spare time, to solve problems. That
otherwise would need supercomputers to do.

A. I did, but now I rather play computer. I like it.

C. Sure. Who wouldnīt ? Especially those computergames distributed today you
can play in the Internet. Completely addicted. Same time, hey, I go hiking.
I mean, I love hiking. I like pulling of my kids, I like climbing trees.

A. How old are your kids ?

C. 5 and 6. I want them in trees, I donīt want them behind computers. I want
my kids out, playing and fooling around, maybe not fooling around online.
Thereīs plenty of games for them later on. Computers work well with tv.
More and more my thinking is:  computers are entertainment. People computers
because theyīre fun. I mean, that's ok. But donīt tell me that theyīre
useful. If people used computer to get information. If the reason for loging
in the internet was the search for information, wouldnīt you think that the
higher bandwith we had, the shorter we would be online ?
Because you could get the information faster. But the opposite happens. The
wider the bandwith, the faster the link, the more time we spend on the
computer. So, that would be true, if the purpose of the internet was
entertainment. The more entertainment came, the more we liked them. So, I
think that the main purpose of the internet is not to get information. Itīs
to have fun.

A. Yeah, but maybe because the only market where you do make money with the
internet is the entertainment. Sex sells, erotic sites, at least napster .

C. Sure, altough, I donīt know, do erotic sites do make money still ?

A. Yes, I think so. those things will always make money....

C. Ok. What Iīm wondering is, there are so many sex sites, millions of them,
I wonder how they make money. I donīt know. It certainly is cheap and easy
to build one. So there are thousands of them around.
Yeah. Sex sells, music sells.

A. They most often have these thousands of hundreds of popups, when you surf
them, what makes the whole thing really boring.

C. Iīm thinking of the next big application. I wonder: What will be the next
killer app ?

A. Hm. I donīt know. Like you said with napster - people knew, but werenīt
aware of.
I think there is a great trend to make things, especially in communications
like mobile phones, a lot easier. I donīt think the next thing will be
software based, maybe more a community thing like napster, or to help people
surf and communicate.

C. Youīll probably find popular computers that do nothing else than email.
Use my computer to email.  You wonīt surf the webjust send and receive
You can buy those today in north america. And .

A. Like the little palmpcs, handhelds.

C. Yeah. Little, small, you plug in into telephone line. Does email for you,
you donīt have to think anything more than that. you donīt have to remember
a phone number, you donīt have to take care of what the connection you are,
where you are. Probably the same thing will happen for desktop machines.
Which are now used for browsers.
People are very very averse and fearful of modifying their computer, moving
things around, changing it.

A. Look here, you can plug in your laptop. Every train has nowadays sockets.

C. Yeah, funny. What they donīt have is an ethernet port.

A. Because the "deutsche bahn" has sold their phone lines and wants to get
it back now, because it is a really good connection.

C. Really ?

A. No, I was just kidding. I donīt know, but they had everything connected
and sold their network.

C. Like people who own gas lines, or other connections for utilities. even
people owning water companys, who had found out, that they could run fibre
inside of the water pipes, so that even though itīs a water pipe, they could
run fibre inside. Because water pipes have to go everywhere. Theyīre saying
oh, we can put a fibre inside of this, and so they donīt have to run extra
wires, and also we can run it in every house, we can bypass the government.
You donīt have to deal with government regulations, and taxes.
Related to that is another telephone group, that is trying to eliminate
radio taxes, the taxes on radio channels, by having laser beams from house
to house.
So the idea is, inside of a tall building, middle of the city in a tall
building, they have lots of windows. I will rent an office, and in the
window I will place about 100 laser beams, pointing to different businesses.
You have a little business, or a little house, if you can see my building,
all you have to do is have free sight. I will have a laser connecting the
two buildings. So in your window, in your house, you have a laser that
points to my building - high bandwith - I mean, way, essentialy fibre optic
link. Then, from your business, you have another link, connecting to another
business down the street. In this way you can have high bandwith
communication across a city with no radio, no wires, and no licensing. The
government canīt control you, because thereīs no bandwith that is under
license, itīs all optical. And because itīs extremely high bandwith, itīs
perfect for packet switching.

A. As long as no birds cross the optic connection.

C. Oh, oh, ok, so the question is, what happens, if thereīs a cloud, or
rain, or a bird.
Well, you donīt have just one central site, you have ten different places,
because no matter what window you have you can see many buildings. So itīs
like a cell phone, escept itīs all optical. High bandwith. There are some
interesting optical problems, because you need some very good and sized
pointing of a laser beam. But itīs very nice because you cannot regulate it.
Itīs like napster. Itīs peer to peer, every time, a new person hooks up to
it, you have more bandwith. It grows, rather than having less bandwith. The
more connects, you have more ways, new ways, to connect your packets. And
because each new connection, every time you add a new transceiver you have
more pathways, so that birds can not interrupt as much. So from here,
pointing to that building, that one, that one . and when each one turns of,
this little thing adapts, says, oh, ok now I will work with these 5 or these
or this connection.
Also it is not easy for the government or even in the local place, to see
how you use it. So Itīs peer to peer communication, high bandwith, and is
very much like the internet, because thereīs many pathways to connect.
This will be an important development in the next 10 years.

A. Oh, we reach hannover now.

C. Time to hop off. Maybe you should take your recorder with you.

A. Oh yeah, right, thanks.

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