"Stare. It is the only way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry,listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

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Information wants to be free vs. artists want tobe paid
On Cops andComputers
Bruce Sterling reads the cybercops his rights
A curse on police cameras everywhere from anInvoluntary Genius

. . .


This issue of Stare doesn't herald the Internetdebut of Bruce Sterling's November 1994 address to theSpeech to High Technology Crime Investigation Association;an edited version already appeared at the HotwiredInternet site. That version concluded with "Copyright© 1995 Wired Ventures Ltd.." When we emailedSterling to get permission to reprint the piece inStare, he directed us to hisdirectory at The Well.

"You should reprint the unedited version of thespeech to the HTCIA," he advised, "and then you won't haveto worry about those pesky Wired copyrights." So wedid. And we aren't.

When we went to download the speech, we also foundthis ...

Acceptable Use Policy

The documents on this disk are not commodities.They're not for sale. They are not part of the"information economy." Some of them were part of thecommercial economy once, in the sense that I got paid forwriting some of them, but they've since been liberated.You didn't have to pay any money to get them. If you didpay anything to see this stuff, you've been ripped off.If you didn't get this data for free, send me some e-mailand tell me about it. Information wants to befree. And I know where you can get a lot more.

You can copy them. Copy the hell out of them, be myguest. You can upload them onto boards or discussiongroups. Go right ahead, enjoy yourself.

You can print them out. You can photocopy theprintouts and hand them around as long as you don't takeany money for it.

But they're not public domain. You can't copyrightthem. Attempts to pirate this stuff and make money fromit may involve you in a serious litigative snarl; believeme, for the pittance you might wring out of such anaction, it's really not worth it. This stuff don't"belong" to you. A lot of it, like the Internetelectronic zines I've included, doesn't "belong" to me,either. It belongs to the emergent realm of alternativeinformation economics, for whatever that's worth.You don't have any right to make this stuff part of theconventional flow of commerce. Let them be part of theflow of knowledge: there's a difference. Don't sell them.And don't alter the text, either; that would be ahopelessly way-dork move. Just make more, and give themto whoever might want or need them.

Now have fun.

This is not the time for an inquiry into the conclictbetween information's desire to be free and artists' desireto be paid. We'll do that at a later date; for now we'lljust say thanks to a generous author and head for the pub.(Since he told us to have fun, it's the least we can do forhim.)

. . .

OnCops and Computers

Bruce Sterling

Good morning, my name's Bruce Sterling, and I'm asometime computer crime journalist and longtime sciencefiction writer from Austin Texas. I'm the guy who wroteHacker Crackdown, which is the book you're getting onone of those floppy disks that are being distributed at thisgig like party favors.

People in law enforcement often ask me, Mr. Sterling, ifyou're a science fiction writer like you say you are, thenwhy should you care about American computer police andprivate security? And also, how come my kids can never findany copies of your sci-fi novels? Well, my publishers dotheir best. The truth of the matter is that I've survived mybrief career as a computer-crime journalist. I'm now back towriting science fiction full time, like I want to do andlike I ought to do. I really can't help the rest of it.

It's true that Hacker Crackdown is still availableon the stands at your friendly local bookstore--maybe abetter chance if it's a computer bookstore. In fact it's inits second paperback printing, which is considered prettygood news in my business. The critics have been very kindabout that book. But even though I'm sure I could writeanother book like Hacker Crackdown every year for therest of my life, I'm just not gonna do that.

Instead, let me show you some items out of this bag. Thisis Hacker Crackdown, the paperback. And see, this isa book of my short stories that has come out since Ipublished Hacker Crackdown! And here's a brand newhardback novel of mine which came out just last month! Hardphysical evidence of my career as a fiction writer! I knowthese wacko cyberpunk sci-fi books are of basically zerorelevance to you guys, but I'm absurdly proud of them, so Ijust had to show them off.

So why did I write Hacker Crackdown in the firstplace? Well, I figured that somebody ought to do it, andnobody else was willing, that's why. When I first gotinterested in Operation Sundevil and the Legion of Doom andthe raid on Steve Jackson Games and so forth, it was 1990.All these issues were very obscure. It was the middle of theBush Administration. There was no information superhighwayvice president. There was no Wired magazine. Therewas no Electronic Frontier Foundation. There was no ClipperChip and no Digital Telephony Initiative. There was no PGPand no World Wide Web. There were a few books around, and acouple of movies, that glamorized computer crackers, butthere had never been a popular book written about Americancomputer cops.

When I got started researching Hacker Crackdown,my first and only nonfiction book, I didn't even think I wasgoing to write any such book. There were four otherjournalists hot on the case who were all rather betterqualified than I was. But one by one they all dropped out.Eventually I realized that either I was going to write it,or nobody was ever going to tell the story. All thosestrange events and peculiar happenings would have passed,and left no public record. I couldn't help but feel that ifI didn't take the trouble and effort to tell people what hadhappened, it would probably all have to happen all overagain. And again and again, until people finally noticed itand were willing to talk about it publicly.

Nowadays it's very different. There are about a millionjournalists with Internet addresses now. There are otherbooks around, like for instance Hafner and Markoff'sCyberpunk Outlaws and Hackers, which is a far betterbook about hackers than my book is. Mungo and Clough's bookApproaching Zero has a pretty interesting take on theEuropean virus scene. Joshua Quittner has a book coming outon the Masters of Deception hacking group. Then there's thisother very recent book I have here, Cyberspace and TheLaw by Cavazos and Morin, which is a pretty goodpractical handbook on digital civil liberties issues. Thisbook explains in pretty good legal detail exactly what kindof stunts with your modem are likely to get you intotrouble. This is a useful service for keeping people out ofhot water, which is pretty much what my book was intended todo, only this book does it better. And there have been a lotof magazine and newspaper articles published.

Basically, I'm no longer needed as a computer crimejournalist. The world is full of computer journalists now,and the stuff I was writing about four years ago, is hot andsexy and popular now. That's why I don't have to write itany more. I was ahead of my time. I'm supposed to be aheadof my time. I'm a science fiction writer. Believe it or not,I'm needed to write science fiction. Taking a sciencefiction writer and turning him into a journalist is likestealing pencils from a blind man's cup.

So frankly, I haven't been keeping up with you guys, andyour odd and unusual world, with the same gusto I did in 90and 91. Nowadays, I spend all my time researching sciencefiction. I spent most of 92 and 93 learning about tornadoesand the Greenhouse Effect. At the moment, I'm reallyinterested in photography, cosmetics and computerinterfaces. In 95 and 96 I'll be interested in somethingelse. That may seem kind of odd and dilettantish on my part.It doesn't show much intellectual staying power. But myintellectual life doesn't have to make any sense. BecauseI'm a science fiction writer.

Even though I'm not in the computer crime game any more,I do maintain an interest. For a lot of pretty good reasons.I still read most of the computer crime journalism that'sout there. And I'll tell you one thing about it. There'sway, way too much blather about teenage computer intruders,and nowhere near enough coverage of computer cops. Computercops are a hundred times more interesting than sneakyteenagers with kodes and kards. A guy like CarltonFitzpatrick should be a hundred times more famous than somewretched hacker kid like Mark Abene. A group like the FCICis a hundred times more influential and important andinteresting than the Chaos Computer Club, Hack-Tic, and the2600 group all put together.

The United States Secret Service is a heavy outfit. It'sastounding how little has ever been written or publishedabout Secret Service people, and their lives, and theirhistory, and how life really looks to them. Cops are reallygood material for a journalist or a fiction writer. Cops seethings most human beings never see. Even private securitypeople have a lot to say for themselves. Computer-intrusionhackers and phone phreaks, by contrast, are basically prettydamned boring.

You know, I used to go actively looking for hackers, butI don't bother any more. I don't have to. Hackers comelooking for me these days. And they find me, because I makeno particular effort to hide. I get these phone calls--Imean, I know a lot of you have gotten these hacker phonecalls--but for me they go a lot like this:

Ring ring. "Hello?"

"Is this Bruce Sterling?"

"Yeah, you got him."

"Are you the guy who wroteHacker Crackdown?"

"Yeah, that's me, dude. What's on your mind?"

"Uh, nothing--I just wanted to know if you werethere!"

"Well, okay, I'm here. If you ever get anything on yourmind, you let me know." Click, buzz. I get dozens of callslike that.

And, pretty often, I'll get another call about 24 hourslater, and it'll be the same kid, only this time he has tenhacker buddies with him on some illegal bridge call. They'rethe Scarlet Scorpion and the Electric Ninja and the FlamingRutabaga, and they really want me to log onto their piratebulletin board system, the Smurfs in Hell BBS somewhere inWisconsin or Ohio or Idaho. I thank them politely for theinvitation and I tell them I kind of have a lot of previousengagements, and then they leave me alone. I also get a lotof call from journalists. Journalists doing computer crimestories. I've somehow acquired a reputation as a guy whoknows something about computer crime and who is willing totalk to journalists. And I do that, too. Because I havenothing to lose. Why shouldn't I talk to another journalist?He's got a boss, I don't. He's got a deadline, I don't. Iknow more or less what I'm talking about, he usually doesn'thave a ghost of a clue. And suppose I say something reallyrude or tactless or crazy, and it gets printed in public. Sowhat? I'm a science fiction writer! What are they supposedto do to me--take away my tenure?

Hackers will also talk to journalists. Hackers brag allthe time. Computer cops, however, have not had a stellarrecord in their press relations. I think this is sad. Iunderstand that there's a genuine need for operationaldiscretion and so forth, but since a lot of computer copsare experts in telecommunications, you'd think they'd comeup with some neat trick to get around these limitations.

Let's consider, for instance, the Kevin Mitnick problem.We all know who this guy Mitnick is. If you don't know whoKevin Mitnick is, raise your hand ... Right, I thoughtso. Kevin Mitnick is a hacker and he's on the lam at themoment, he's a wanted fugitive. The FBI tried to nab Kevin afew months back at a computer civil liberties convention inChicago and apprehended the wrong guy. That was prettyembarrassing, frankly. I was there, I saw it, I also saw theFBI trying to explain later to about five hundred enragedself-righteous liberals, and it was pretty sad. The localFBI office came a cropper because they didn't really knowwhat Kevin Mitnick looked like.

I don't know what Mitnick looks like either, even thoughI've written about him a little bit, and my question is, howcome? How come there's no publicly accessible WorldWideWebpage with mugshots of wanted computer-crime fugitives? Eventhe US Postal Service has got this much together, and theydon't even have modems. Why don't the FBI and the USSS havepublic relations stations in cyberspace? For that matter,why doesn't the HTCIA have its own Internet site? All thecomputer businesses have Internet sites now, unless they'retotally out of it. Why aren't computer cops in much, muchbetter rapport with the computer community through computernetworks? You don't have to grant live interviews with everyjournalist in sight if you don't want to, I can understandthat that can create a big mess sometimes. But just put somedata up in public, for heaven's sake. Crime statistics.Wanted posters. Security advice. Antivirus programs,whatever. Stuff that will help the cyberspace community thatyou are supposed to be protecting and serving.

I know there are people in computer law enforcement whoare ready and willing and able to do this, but they can'tmake it happen because of too much bureaucracy and, frankly,too much useless hermetic secrecy. Computer cops ought topublicly walk the beat in cyberspace a lot more, and stophiding your light under a bushel. What is your problem,exactly? Are you afraid somebody might find out that youexist?

I think that this is an amazing oversight and a totalno-brainer on your part, to be the cops in an informationsociety and not be willing to get online big-time and reallypush your information--but maybe that's just me. I enjoypublicity, personally. I think it's good for people. I talka lot, because I'm just an opinionated guy. I can't help it.A writer without an opinion is like a farmer without a plow,or a professor without a chalkboard, or a cop without acomputer--it's just something basically useless andunnatural.
Part one of two; concluded in StareNo. 804.

. . .


Andrei Codrescu

(This is the conclusion of the piece that began inStare No.802)

My own revolt against my father the graven image makertook the form of bursting into the crowded waiting room ofhis shop one summer afternoon and shooting my cap pistol.When the smoke cleared, half the customers had fled, and myfather had me in a headlock in the darkroom, lecturing ondecorum. He wasn't looking at me. My act had been revenge, Isuppose, on all the faces my father did look at.

Years later, in 1976, I still hadn't received my Americancitizenship, though I'd been in the United States for tenyears. My only piece of identification was a so-called"white passport," a re-entry visa really that allowed me tocome back to the United States if I strayed over the borderby mistake or something. I never carried this for fear oflosing it. I don't drive--so--no driver's license.

One very late night in California, my friend JeffreyMiller and I were driving up a country road in MendocinoCounty in search of a nonexistent address when the lights ofsomething huge and unearthly were suddenly upon us. It wasthe CHP--the California Highway Patrol--and a tall copstrolled out with a flashlight and a shotgun. He askedJeffrey for his driver's license, and then he came to myside and said, "ID!" Now the only ID I had with me was anautobiographical book I wrote called The Life & Timesof an Involuntary Genius, which had my picture on thecover. The cop took Jeffrey's ID and my book, and went backto the cruise mobile. He put his feet out the window andstarted reading. Eons passed. Billions of stars died in thesky over our heads. I slept. I had dreams. Summer turnedinto winter. At long last, the cop came back. He looked atme long and hard. He then tapped my face on the cover withhis trigger finger. "Anybody can fake a pitcher like this!"he said. "Sure," I said, "but wouldn't it be easier to fakea regular ID?" "Okay," the cop said, "this time!" I believedhim. Every ten years now I produce a new autobiography witha fresh picture for that cop. Photos para la autoridad!Flores para los muertes!

When Jeffrey died later that year, in a different car, Ihad the urge to look at pictures of him. One of our friendshad been shooting a lot of our get-togethers with his videocamera. When I saw the tapes I found to my dismay, thatinstead of Jeffrey's face--or anybody else's for thatmatter--my friend had "composed" shots out of fragments oftrees, elbows, house tops and clouds. Another reason to findart loathsome--for its effects on dilettantes.

I tried to use my book for identification in banks, insupermarkets and at public events of various kinds where itwas sometimes accepted sometimes rejected depending on theimaginative stretch of the guard dog.

My first book of poetry was called License to Carry aGun. It also had my picture on the cover. I was standingwith one foot in a garbage can on First Street between First& Second Avenue in New York where I lived. A few yearslater I got a job teaching poetry in Folsom Prison inCalifornia. The first time I presented myself at Folsom Igave the guard my poetry book in lieu of ID. He called hisboss on the phone. A huge man with hands that looked likethey cracked bones for a living came down. He looked at mypicture, he looked at the title--License to Carry aGun--and then cracked open my book with his knuckles,and read. He then picked up the phone and called his boss, aguy no doubt ten times larger who ate men's livers forbreakfast: "It's just fucking poetry, boss! Just fuckingpoetry!" he said. So the picture was good enough, afterall.

The moral from these two incidents, if you're looking forone, is that most people in charge of enforcing the law,still have no doubts as to the equivalence between picturesand reality. Consequently, we ought to keep post-modernism asecret.

I had a dream once that life and death were positive andnegative photocopying respectively. I saw the DNA strandsbeing copied and was reassured. In that light, we are allcopies, but I am a copy in the most exacting sense, thanksto mom and dad. Eventually, everyone will have to work outthe precise sense in which photography engenders them. Forme photography presents the oedipal pure, but that's justthe luck of the draw.

You could say that my relation to photography is that ofphotography to the world: I come out of it but I don'tnecessarily give back a pretty picture. The day I burst intothe full waiting room of my father's shop and dischargedthat cap gun I took charge of myself. The smoke and theshots that caused panic among his Sunday-best dressedcustomers gave birth to the unphotographable self.

Two pieces of advice then to the would-be photographer:1) Pay attention to the thing you photograph, and 2) try tolove it.

I hope I'm not obscuring the issues. There is a greatplace on Bourbon Street where you can take your picture in ajail cell. That's where I'm going.

And then there are clearly unphotographable things thatyou can see. In 1973 I tried taking a picture with my 35 mmof my two naked girlfriends in front of a poster of the kidguru Maharaji but the pictures didn't come out. I triedPolaroid. No go. The poster or the guru did something to thelight.

In 1973, the year that the political soap opera Watergatemesmerized the nation, I wrote the following poem:

About Photography

I hate photographs
those square paper Judases of the world,
the fakers of love's image in all things.
They show your parents where the frogs of doom
are standing under the heavenly flour,
they picture grassy slopes
where the bugs of accident whirr twisted
in the flaws of the world.
It is weird,
this violence of particulars
against the unity of being

Despite my accent, which makes "f-l-o-u-r" sound like"f-l-o-w-e-r" and "w-h-i-r-r" sound like "w-e-r-e," anddespite the ancient awkward problem of putting Judas in theplural--which I did out of the instinctive self-antisemitismin which I was steeped as a child--this poem gets at myfeelings about photography with remarkable ease. Thefunctional word here is "weird," which was the word with thewidest possible circulation in America during Watergate. Ifbeing has any unity in the age of television it is weird--tosay the least--trying to fathom it through the fragmentedand framed instances of specific pictures. What is one toinfer of American life--and inner life--by looking at thetriple-chinned mugs and black-rimmed eyes of our electedleaders, our meritocracy, standing trial for trying tohijack American democracy?

It is now 18 years later--long enough for a young man orwoman to have been born, grown and sent off to be killed ina war at the request of the successors of the discreditedadministration of 1973. A war, moreover, that was so wellpackaged by the administration on television that not amurmur of dissent penetrated the skillful wrappings.

I probably don't have to tell you that the taking,selecting and distributing of pictures is a highlymanipulative business. In the past four decades, and mostintensely in the last two decades, the ideological educationof would-be mind controllers has been concerned almostexclusively with the business of image-making. I will giveyou a single quick example before I proceed to more intimateaspects of my poetry--which, whether you know it or not, youare here to hear discussed.

The so-called "Revolution" in Romania in December 1989was an event staged for television by Securitate--theRomanian secret police--and the KGB--the Soviet secretpolice. In order to arouse the masses, they produced anumber of images for TV: the most famous one is theso-called "Madonna and Child" picture, which shows a youngwoman and child lying on the ground killed by a singlebullet. The image was shown over and over on TV screens ofthe world until the alleged murderers took on mythicHitlerian dimensions. In fact, this was a fake produced bycollaging a woman who had died in an alcoholics' hospitalwith a baby dead of different causes. A bullet was putthrough them, and they were seen accordingly. This image wasfollowed on Romanian TV by footage of Nadia Comaneci winningtriumphantly in Montreal in 1976. The two pictures togethersaid: "Here is the genius of our nation, nipped in thebabyhood by the monsters of the old regime." Other imageswere equally bogus: children murdered on the steps of theTimisoara Cathedral, an image which gave rise to theextraordinary reports that 60,000 people had been murderedin Romania, turned out to be collage as well. The net effectof all this camera work was to make millions of peoplebelieve that they were witnessing a spontaneous revolutionwhile a coup d'etat was taking place. But in fact arevolution did occur, a mass revolt that was hijacked viatelevision from right under people's noses. Today in Romaniaa neo-communist government hatched in conspiratorial secrecyby the police claims to be the legitimate representative ofthis revolution. But it isn't. It is the representative of"revolution" between quotation marks. The most immediateeffect of image manipulations is the placement of "reality"between quotation marks, the creation of a fundamentalmistrust in the evidence of one's senses when confrontedwith slick images to the contrary. The evidence of one'ssenses has at its disposal only a very clumsy, very olddefensive language, while propaganda and manipulationcommand a sophisticated technical arsenal that make humanbeings seem evolutionary throwbacks by comparison.

Someone out there in the recesses of literature flatteredhimself a few years ago by saying, "I Am a Camera." Iremember also the beginning of a novel by William Burroughs:"The camera is in the eye of the vulture," after which heproceeds to describe everything from the vulture's vantagepoint using an interesting speeded-up cut-up language thattries to keep up with the vulture-speed of the camera.

Before photography was an art, with all the pretensionsand baggage of that activity, it served art by freeing itfrom the conventions of realism. The camera made modern artpossible by freeing artists from the tyranny of the eye. Thecrucial moment in the history of modern art occurs in theSalvador Dali/Luis Buñuel film An AndalusianDog when a razor blade slides across an eyeball.Henceforth, art is free of the exigencies of reportingreality according to the eyes. That becomes the job ofphotography. Of course, it wasn't long before Man Ray andthe dadaists discovered that in the 20th Century "art"should be placed between quotation marks. Art with a capitalA was dead as soon as the first picture was taken and a longprocess of debunking--still in progress--was in order. Thephotograph brought Art down from its pedestal and gave it tothe masses to have fun with. Which left artists desperatelysearching for new specialized stances in the mechanicallyviolated wilderness of representation.

When the violent subjectivity of early avant-gardesshowed signs of being exhausted, being a camera or an eyebecame art's first post-modern obsession. Implicit here wasa certain regret at having ceded such a useful descriptionof reality to a machine, but also envy at the infinitelyproductive capacity of photography. In the 1950s, in the ageof existentialism, when it became obvious to everyone thatthe human race was doomed by the A-bomb, it becamefashionable to feign a lack of feeling, a kind ofpsychological "objectivity" whose ideal practitioner was thecamera. Some artists confused the workings of the camerawith objectivity because it provided a metaphor forindifference, both the existential and the Zen kind. Forthem, the camera made it possible to conceive of looking atsomething without feeling, which is to say without guilt.The camera seemed to make vision blameless, it provided theact of looking with a possibility of innocence.

However--the camera is no innocent instrument. Or rather,the instrument may be innocent but there is no innocent useof it. There is no moral difference between a camera and apaint brush. Both are--precisely--instruments. Nonetheless,the camera continues to provide the metaphor of objectivityin a kind of theoretical space. With the populist snapshotat one end and the military satellite photo on the other,the camera is as complete a topographer of reality as we areever likely to have. In short, the camera has conquered theworld and the world it shows us is the way we now articulatereality. Which opens up wide possibilities of manipulation,something I would hope that you are going to address in yourupcoming discussions.

We now read the world according to pictures of itstitched together either by powers behind the scenes or bythe technological process itself. In any case, the endresult does not benefit the majority of the people for whomthe new imaged "reality" is an opiate that extorts theirenergies.

In the second or third wave of post-modern difficultieswith the image, which is right now, few people say anylonger, "I Am a Camera." The last I-Am-a-Camera people werethe punks, or rather the catatonic wing of the punks whoresented mightily the wavy impressionist hippies with alltheir shimmering light and idealized distortions. Theseverest punks were strictly black & white and theymoved as little as possible. Their drug of choice washeroin--the most photographic of all drugs.

More to the point than I-Am-a-Camera is my own case,which is I-Am-a-Picture.

Because of its teasing relation to reality, photographycan be made to convince people of things that aren'tnecessarily good for them. Pictures can lie, transmitpropaganda and change the evidence of one's senses to thepoint where reality disappears. Photographs make it alsopossible to substitute images for reality when the dread ofthe real becomes too unbearable. That is, I believe, wherewe stand now, in our time. We are forcing ourselves tobelieve in the simulations of reality all around us becausewe are quickly losing the vestigial organs for directapprehension of reality.

And while I have you here, I want to put a curse onpolice cameras everywhere. I hope that aliens, mucking aboutthe ruins of our planet, run into your pictures, or at leastinto a full set of National Geographics, rather than intomillions of dreary mugshots that prove that our world was adingy prison-planet. It's a matter of degree, of course.

. . .
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