The Hacker Crackdown

I am reading “The Hacker Crackdown”, by Bruce Sterling. It’s published, and republished, everywhere — electronically. It is a book detailing the Phreaking/Hacking scene of the 1990s. It is well-written, and what’s more — with amazing technical depth, for all that it is written by a layman. I want to quote one part of it, near the end, to show what I mean —

Kapor is determined to tackle the technicalities of the Internet in the service of the public interest. “The problem with being a node on the Net today is that you’ve got to have a captive technical specialist. We have Chris Davis around, for the care and feeding of the balky beast! We couldn’t do it ourselves!”

He pauses. “So one direction in which technology has to evolve is much more standardized units, that a non- technical person can feel comfortable with. It’s the same shift as from minicomputers to PCs. I can see a future in which any person can have a Node on the Net. Any person can be a publisher. It’s better than the media we now have. It’s possible. We’re working actively.”

Kapor is in his element now, fluent, thoroughly in command in his material. “You go tell a hardware Internet hacker that everyone should have a node on the Net,” he says, “and the first thing they’re going to say is, ‘IP doesn’t scale!'” (“IP” is the interface protocol for the Internet. As it currently exists, the IP software is simply not capable of indefinite expansion; it will run out of usable addresses, it will saturate.) “The answer,” Kapor says, “is: evolve the protocol! Get the smart people together and figure out what to do. Do we add ID? Do we add new protocol? Don’t just say, we can’t do it.”

Oh, yes. I am fully aware of the irony of publishing it in my blog, managed entirely through the web 🙂

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