Katz, Wired, and Clueless Conferences on Cyberspace

Tim May tcmay at got.net
Sat Aug 16 00:08:37 PDT 1997

It seems that Jon Katz of "HotWired" (TM), or "Wired" (TM), or whatever, is
mightily impressed that he was invited to meet some bigwigs in Chicago to
chart the future of cyberspace.

Well, BFD. These conferences, populated by Carter, Reagan, Bush, and maybe
even Clinton era functionaries, are the conference equivalent of the rubber
chicken circuit. I mean, what _else_ are Al Haig and Zbigniew Brezinski
supposed to do? A while back it was "infrastructure," then it was "the end
of Communism," then it was "the rise of Islamic fundamentalism," and now
it's "cyberspace." Gotta keep up with what's hip, what's cool, what's
"relevant" (as my generation used to say).

And this is not just sour grapes on my part for not having been invited to
this shindig with Al and Zbig and Esther and the other policy wonks....

See, I _think_ I was invited to one of these things, put on by CSIS, two or
three years ago. I shined them on (street talk for "I declined"), as it was
pretty obviously just a bunch of old farts opining about things they knew
little of, with no willingness to be shaken out of their corporate-military

(Hey, I could be wrong about the thing I was invited to being put on by the
CSIS. I was active on the Cyberia-l list at the time, and I recall the
conference being in the midwest somewhere, with a bunch of typical
McNeil-Lehrer (no longer McNeil) talking heads and a sprinkling of familiar
names from CFP and related conferences. I was contacted at least twice
about attending various such conferences, and I recall one of them being
sponsored by the CSIS. Needless to say, I declined.)

Think of these conferences as "CFP for the less clued." Considering how
boring and worthless CFP is, high praise indeed.

Comments on Katz's article follow:

At 9:33 PM -0700 8/15/97, Vladimir Z. Nuri wrote:
>------- Forwarded Message
>- --- Forwarded Message  ---
>From: HotWired
>by Jon Katz
>4 Aug 97
>A letter arrived last week inviting me to a 2-day conference called "The
>Information Revolution: Impact on the Foundations of National Power," to be
>held 24-25 Sept. outside Chicago.
>"On the threshold of the information age," reads the invitation from the
>Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies, "many of the
>traditional measures of national power appear under challenge."
>That I am on the list of "invitees" is both a shock and a mortification.

Yeah, it mortifies me, too. But it doesn't shock me...after all, any
cyberspace conference needs at least one "Wired" staffer to give it "street
cred" (or whatever the whippersnappers call it).

As we saw recently, in Japan the future of surveillance is determined with
the help of hipcrime vocab pseudo-journalists like Joichi Ito.  Kind of
like hiring Nickie Halflinger to develop anti-hacking policies.

>For all our cyber-chatting, it's a shock to see these Great Whites preparing
>to convene to talk so nakedly about national political power and the digital

Ah, the "Wired" invocation of "Great Whites." At least Katz didn't call
them "dead white males."

>This group will have five panels:
>First, there's "Economic Might as an Element of National Power," to explore
>The second panel topic, "Knowledge Acquisition as an Element of National
>Panel three is $E3Civic Dynamics as an Element of National Power.$E4
>Panel four addresses the subject of $E3Cultural Identify as an Element of
>National Power.$E4
>The last panel is entitled $E3Rethinking National Power in an

As the prototypical "Wired" reader would doubtless say, "B-o-o-o-r-i-n--g!!!!!"

>Wow, I thought, while reading over the topics.

Wow! Like, I mean, this dude is, like, easily impressed. Know what I mean?

>These people are disturbingly smart, if clunky panel-topic writers. They$E2ve
>fully grasped what hasn$E2t yet occurred to William Bennet or The New York
>Times or Bill Clinton or Al Gore - that the rise of the digital age has
>little to do with pornography, stolen term papers, or email-addicted
>students. It has to do with raw power - who gets, defines, and controls it,
>and for what purpose.

Sounds like something out of "Wired."

Remind me again never to buy this magazine.

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay at got.net  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."

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