Copyright (c) 1994 by TIME Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission.

	The following is the full text of the TIME Magazine Cover story
	dated July 15th, 1994 /25/94 (with accompaning FAQ sidebar).
	It is posted here with permission for noncommercial use only.
	It remains copyright by TIME Inc. and is not to be reprinted
	or reposted without permission.
	[ Requests for reposting to philiped@aol.com ;
	  requests for reprinting to timeletter@aol.com ]


TECHNOLOGY

BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF THE INTERNET

The world's largest computer network, once the playground of scientists,
hackers and gearheads, is being overrun by lawyers, merchants and millions
of new users. Is there room for everyone?

BY PHILIP ELMER-DEWITT

There was nothing very special about the message that made Laurence Canter
and Martha Siegel the most hated couple in cyberspace. It was a relatively
straightforward advertisement offering the services of their
husband-and-wife law firm to aliens interested in getting a green card --
proof of permanent-resident status in the U.S. The computer that sent the
message was a perfectly ordinary one as well: an IBM-type PC parked in the
spare bedroom of their ranch-style house in Scottsdale, Arizona. But on the
Internet, even a single computer can wield enormous power, and last April
this one, with only a tap on the enter key, stirred up an international
controversy that continues to this day.

The Internet, for those who are still a little fuzzy about these things, is
the world's largest computer network and the nearest thing to a working
prototype of the information superhighway. It's actually a global network
of networks that links together the large commercial
computer-communications services (like CompuServe, Prodigy and America
Online) as well as tens of thousands of smaller university, government and
corporate networks. And it is growing faster than O.J. Simpson's legal
bills. According to the Reston, Virginia-based Internet Society, a private
group that tracks the growth of the Net, it reaches nearly 25 million
computer users -- an audience roughly the size of Roseanne's -- and is
doubling every year. 

Now, just when it seems almost ready for prime time, the Net is being
buffeted by forces that threaten to destroy the very qualities that fueled
its growth. It's being pulled from all sides: by commercial interests eager
to make money on it, by veteran users who want to protect it, by
governments that want to control it, by pornographers who want to exploit
its freedoms, by parents and teachers who want to make it a safe and useful
place for kids. The Canter-and-Siegel affair, say Net observers, was just
the opening skirmish in the larger battle for the soul of the Internet. 

What the Arizona lawyers did that fateful April day was to ''Spam'' the
Net, a colorful bit of Internet jargon meant to evoke the effect of
dropping a can of Spam into a fan and filling the surrounding space with
meat. They wrote a program called Masspost that put the little ad into
almost every active bulletin board on the Net -- some 5,500 in all -- thus
ensuring that it would be seen by millions of Internet users, not just once
but over and over again. Howard Rheingold, author of The Virtual Community,
compares the experience with opening the mailbox and finding ''a letter,
two bills and 60,000 pieces of junk mail.''

In the eyes of many Internet regulars, it was a provocation so bald-faced
and deliberate that it could not be ignored. And all over the world,
Internet users responded spontaneously by answering the Spammers with angry
electronic-mail messages called ''flames.'' Within minutes, the flames --
filled with unprintable epithets -- began pouring into Canter and Siegel's
Internet mailbox, first by the dozen, then by the hundreds, then by the
thousands. A user in Australia sent in 1,000 phony requests for information
every day. A 16-year-old threatened to visit the couple's ''crappy law
firm'' and ''burn it to the ground.'' The volume of traffic grew so heavy
that the computer delivering the E-mail crashed repeatedly under the load.
After three days, Internet Direct of Phoenix, the company that provided the
lawyers with access to the Net,pulled the plug on their account.

Even at that point, all might have been forgiven. For this kind of thing,
believe it or not, happens all the time on the Internet -- although not
usually on this scale. People make mistakes. Their errors are pointed out.
The underlying issues are thrashed out. And either a consensus is reached
or the combatants exhaust themselves and retire from the field.

But Canter and Siegel refused to give ground. They declared the experiment
''a tremendous success,'' claiming to have generated $100,000 in new
business. They threatened to sue Internet Direct for cutting them off from
even more business (although the suit never materialized). And they gave an
unrepentant interview to the New York Times. ''We will definitely advertise
on the Internet again,'' they promised.

It was like a declaration of war, and as if on cue, the harassment surged
anew. The lawyers' fax machine began spewing out page after page of blank
paper. Hundreds of bogus magazine subscriptions began showing up on their
doorstep. And technicians began devising tools that would prevent Canter
and Siegel from making good their threat. The most ingenious: a piece of
software written by a Norwegian programmer that came to be known as the
''cancelbot'' -- a sort of information-seeking robot that roams the
Internet looking for Canter and Siegel mass mailings and deletes them
before they spread.

The Green Card Incident, as the Canter-and-Siegel affair came to be known,
brought to the surface issues that had been lurking largely unexamined
beneath the Net's explosive growth. It was not designed for doing commerce,
and  it does not gracefully accommodate new arrivals  -- especially those
who don't bother to learn its strange language or customs or, worse still,
openly defy them.

The Internet evolved from a computer system built 25 years ago by the
Defense Department to enable academic and military researchers to continue
to do government work even if part of the network were taken out in a
nuclear attack. It eventually linked universities, government facilities
and corporations around the world, and they all shared the costs and
technical work of running the system.

The scientists who were given free Internet access quickly discovered that
the network was good for more than official business. They used it to send
each other private messages (E-mail) and to post news and information on
public electronic bulletin boards (known as Usenet newsgroups). Over the
years the Internet became a favorite haunt of graduate students and
computer hackers, who loved nothing better than to stay up all night
exploring its weblike connections and devising new and interesting things
for people to do. They constructed elaborate fantasy worlds with Dungeons &
Dragons themes. They built tools for navigating the Net -- like the
University of Minnesota's Gopher, which makes it easy for Internet
explorers to tunnel from one place on the network to another. Or like the
programs whimsically named Archie, Jughead and Veronica, which allow users
to locate a particular word or program from vast libraries of data
available to Net users. More and more newsgroups were added, until the
bulletin-board system had grown into a dense tangle of discussion topics
with bizarre computer-coded titles like alt.tasteless.jokes,
rec.arts.erotica and alt.barney.dinosaur.die.die.die.

Until quite recently it was painfully difficult for ordinary computer users
to reach the Internet. Not only did they need a PC, a modem to connect it
to the phone line and a passing familiarity with something called Unix, but
they could get on only with the cooperation of a university or government
research lab. 

In the past year, most of those impediments have disappeared. There are now
dozens of small businesses that will sell access to the Net starting at $10
to $30 a month. And in the past few months, mainstream computer services
like America Online have started to make it possible for their subscribers
to reach parts of the Internet through standard, easy-to-use menus.

But with floods of new arrivals have come new issues and conflicts. Part of
the problem is technical. To withstand a nuclear blast and keep on ticking,
the Net was built without a central command authority. That means that
nobody owns it, nobody runs it, nobody has the power to kick anybody off
for good. There isn't even a master switch that can shut it down in case of
emergency. ''It's the closest thing to true anarchy that ever existed,''
says Clifford Stoll, a Berkeley astronomer famous on the Internet for
having trapped a German spy who was trying to use it to break into U.S.
military computers.

But a large part of the problem is cultural. The rules that govern behavior
on the Net were set by computer hackers who largely eschew formal rules.
Instead, most computer wizards subscribe to a sort of anarchistic ethic,
stated most succinctly in Steven Levy's Hackers. Among its tenets:

-- Access to computers should be unlimited and total.

-- All information should be free.

-- Mistrust authority and promote decentralization.

The Internet was built up by people who lived and breathed the hacker ethic
-- students at Berkeley and M.I.T., researchers at AT&T Bell Laboratories,
computer designers at companies such as Apple and Sun Microsystems. ''If
there is a soul of the Internet, it is in that community,'' says Mark
Stahlman, president of New Media Associates, a research firm in New York
City. 

As long as the community was relatively small, it could be self-policing.
Anybody who got out of line was shouted down or shunned. But now that the
population of the Net is larger than that of most European countries, those
informal rules of behavior are starting to break down. The Internet is
becoming Balkanized, and where the mainstream culture and hacker culture
clash, open battles are breaking out. Canter and Siegel may head the
most-hated list, but they are hardly alone. 

HERE COME THE NEWBIES!

Tensions between old-timers and new arrivals -- or ''newbies'' -- flare up
every September as a new crop of college freshmen (armed with their first
Internet accounts) are loosed upon the network. But the annual hazing given
clueless freshmen pales beside the welcome America Online users received
last March, when the Vienna, Virginia-based company opened the doors of the
Internet to nearly 1 million customers. It was bad enough that America
Online users, clearly identifiable by the @aol.com attached to their user
IDs, were making all the usual mistakes -- asking dumb questions, posting
messages in the wrong place and generally behaving like boorish tourists.
But because of a temporary bug in AOL's software, every message they wrote
was duplicated eight times -- magnifying their errors and making the AOL
folks sitting targets for locals already disposed to resent their presence
on the Net.

The result was a verbal conflagration that dominated the newsgroups for
weeks and is still smoldering four months later. ''It looks like Beavis and
Butt-head finally bought themselves a cheap modem,'' wrote an Internet
regular, in one of the gentler messages. Things deteriorated when the aol
crowd began to give as good as they got, hinting that the old-timers ought
to make way for people who actually paid for their Internet services.
Feelings are still raw on both sides and are not likely to be salved until
the next wave of newbies arrives -- probably from CompuServe, as early as
August. If history is any guide, the loudest complaints about the new
immigrants will come from those who immediately preceded them -- the
next-to-newcomers from America Online. 

SEX AND THE NET

For those interested in pornography, there's plenty of it on the Internet.
It comes in all forms: hot chat, erotic stories, explicit pictures, even
XXX-rated film clips. Every night brings a fresh crop, and the newsgroups
that carry it (alt.sex, alt.binaries.pictures.erotica, etc.) are among the
top four or five most popular. The salacious stuff is clearly an
embarrassment to the Clinton Administration, which has been trying to make
a virtue of getting the Internet into schools. The White House is
concerned, admits Tom Kalil, an adviser to Vice President Al Gore. But to
judge the Net by its smut, he says, ''is like forming an impression of New
York City by looking only at the crime statistics.'' 

For purely technical reasons, it is impossible to censor the Internet at
present. ''It's designed to work around censorship and blockage,'' explains
Stoll. ''If you try to cut something, it self-repairs.'' But some
antipornography activists have found a clever way to cope with that. From
time to time, they will appear in newsgroups devoted to X-rated picture
files and start posting messages with titles like ''you will all burn in
hell!'' These typically provoke flurries of angry responses -- until it
dawns on the pornography lovers that by filling the message board with
their rejoinders, they are pushing out the sexy items they came to enjoy. 

KEEPING SECRETS 

No battle on the Internet has been as public as the one waged over the
Clipper Chip -- the U.S. Government-designed encryption system for encoding
and decoding phone calls and E-mail so that they are protected from
snooping by everyone but the government itself. The
information-should-be-free types on the Internet were strongly opposed to
Clipper from the start, not because they were against encryption,
ironically, but because they wanted a stronger form of encryption --
encryption for which the government doesn't have a back-door key, as it
intends to have with the Clipper system. 

In the ensuing debate -- much of which took place over the Net --
government officials maintained that they needed Clipper to be able to
intercept and decipher messages from mobsters, drug dealers and terrorists.
Not so, claim critics. ''Clipper is not about child molesters or the Mafia
but about the Internal Revenue Service,'' argues Bruce Fancher, proprietor
of a New York City Internet service provider called Mindvox. ''Clipper just
doesn't make sense any other way.'' As more and more commerce takes place
on the Internet, contends Fancher, the IRS is going to need a surefire way
to track the flow of cyberbucks -- and to collect its share. 

WHO NEEDS THE PRESS?

If it is true, as A.J. Liebling once wrote, that ''freedom of the press is
guaranteed only to those who own one,'' then the Internet may represent
journalism's ultimate liberation. On the Net, anyone with a computer and a
modem can be his own reporter, editor and publisher -- spreading news and
views to millions of readers around the world. Adam Curry, a former MTV
announcer, uses the Internet to publish Cyber Sleaze Report, a
music-industry gossip sheet that tells readers which rock stars are
pregnant, which have had breast surgery, which are drying out at the Betty
Ford Clinic. Brad Templeton, an Internet old-timer who used to publish a
satirical guide to Internet ''netiquette'' called Emily PostNews, now
distributes Clarinet news service, an electronic newspaper that brings
wire-service stories to 65,000 Internet subscribers. 

But publishing on the Internet has its risks, as Brock Meeks learned.
Meeks, a reporter by day for Communications Daily in Washington, by night
publishes an electronic broadsheet called CyberWire Dispatch, in which he
tells readers what he thinks is really going on. Last April he investigated
an Internet advertisement offering $500 or more just for receiving junk
E-mail and uncovered what he called a bait-and-switch scheme operated by
''a slick direct-mail baron'' in Ohio. He wrote a story headlined jacking
in from the p.t. barnum port and dispatched it to the Net. He was promptly
sued for libel. Whatever the truth of the story -- or the merit of the suit
-- Meeks now faces a $25,000 legal bill that, because he was working on his
behalf, not his employer's, he must pay out of his own pocket. It was a
pointed reminder to reporters -- and would-be reporters on the Internet --
that the laws of libel don't stop at the borders of cyberspace. ''It
definitely had a chilling effect on me,'' says Meeks. 

Traditional journalism flows from the top down: the editor decides what to
cover, the reporters gather the facts, and the news is packaged into a
story and distributed to the masses. News on the Net, by contrast, is
bottom up: it bubbles from newsgroups whenever anyone has anything to
report. Much of it may be bogus, error-ridden or just plain wrong. But when
writers report on their area of expertise -- as they often do -- it carries
information that is frequently closer to the source than what is found in
newspapers.

In this paradigm shift lie the seeds of revolutionary change. The Internet
is a two-way medium. Although it is delivered on a glowing screen, it isn't
at all like television. It's not one-to-many, like traditional media, but
many-to-many. It doesn't work in couch-potato mode. And as Canter and
Siegel discovered, it doesn't take kindly to in-your-face advertising.

But it does represent a new and fast-growing market. For better or worse,
the Internet is filled with bright, well-educated, upwardly mobile people
-- a demographic that makes it particularly attractive to those with things
to sell. And while the green-card lawyers were creating a diversion,
hundreds of businesses were quietly staking out the territory. Silicon
Graphics, a computer manufacturer, uses the Internet to distribute software
and answer customer questions. Joe Boxer, a San Francisco design firm that
makes colorful and offbeat men's briefs, invites customers to submit
''underwear stories'' to its Internet address (joeboxer@jboxer.com).

''I think the market is huge,'' says Martin Nisenholtz, an advertising
executive at Ogilvy & Mather who has drawn up a set of guidelines for
marketing to the Net. (Rule No. 1: Intrusive E-mail is unwelcome.) He
insists there's a place for advertising on the network. It's O.K. to post
an ad for a used computer, for example, in a newsgroup called
comp.system.mac.wanted, or to sell flowers in a corner of the Net marked
florist.com. Global Network Navigator, one of the first Internet publishers
to include advertising in its offerings, now has 45 online clients,
including Lonely Planet Publications, an international publisher of travel
guides. ''The response has been tremendous,'' says Dale Dougherty of Lonely
Planet. ''The Internet has opened up a lot of doors for us.''

While the Net is still not entirely ready for business, the pieces are
falling into place. A system that will enable merchants to take credit-card
numbers over the Internet and verify their customers' signatures, for
instance, is expected to be up and running before the end of the year.
Right now the hot product is a program called Mosaic, which gives the
Internet what the Macintosh gave the personal computer: a navigation system
that can be understood at a glance by anybody who can point and click a
mouse. Hundreds of companies are using Mosaic to establish an easy-to-find
presence on the Net. Last year there were a handful of these Mosaic
''sites''; today there are more than 10,000, including such blatantly
commercial ventures as the California Yellow Pages and the Internet
Shopping Network.

And what about the folks who settled the Internet when it was still a
frontier town? Some have left, preferring to spend time with their family
and friends. Most are bracing for the next wave of homesteaders. Dave
Farber, a University of Pennsylvania computer-science professor, has
developed what he calls ''New York City filters'' -- techniques for
surviving in a densely populated network and for sorting E-mail that
arrives at the rate of 400 pieces a day. Others use ''bozo filters'' and
''kill files'' -- lists of individuals whose past behavior has convinced
Internet users that their lives will be richer and much saner if they never
read another word those bozos write.

The Internet has grown too large to think of it as a single place, says
Esther Dyson, a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an
Internet watchdog group. ''It needs to be subdivided into smaller
neighborhoods. There should be high-class neighborhoods. There should be
places that parents feel are safe for their kids.'' 

San Francisco's Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link (WELL) is perhaps the most
famous of these new virtual communities. It is connected to the Net but
protected by a ''gate'' that won't open without a password or a credit
card. Stacy Horn, a former well user, built a similar system on the East
Coast with this twist: she offered free accounts to women, hoping they
would provide a ''civilizing force'' to counterbalance the Internet's
testosterone-heavy demographics. It turned out to be a successful formula,
and Horn has plans to build similar services in six U.S. cities, including
Boston, Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

The danger, if this trend continues, is that people will withdraw within
their walled communities and never venture again into the Internet's public
spaces. It's a process similar to the one that created the suburbs and
replaced the great cities with shopping malls and urban sprawl. The magic
of the Net is that it thrusts people together in a strange new world, one
in which they get to rub virtual shoulders with characters they might
otherwise never meet. The challenge for the citizens of cyberspace -- as
the battles to control the Internet are joined and waged -- will be to
carve out safe, pleasant places to work, play and raise their kids without
losing touch with the freewheeling, untamable soul that attracted them to
the Net in the first place. 

Reported by David S. Jackson/San Francisco and Suneel Ratan/Washington


Copyright 1994 Time Inc. All rights reserved.



FAQS (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)

What is the Internet?

The Internet is a vast international network of networks that enables
computers of all kinds to share services and communicate directly, as if
they were part of one giant, seamless, global computing machine.

How do I get connected?

That depends on how connected you want to be.

-- If you have an account at CompuServe or Prodigy, you can already send
   and receive E-mail through the Internet.

-- If you have an America Online account, you can also use other Internet
   services, like the electronic bulletin boards (called newsgroups).

-- If you have an account at Delphi or any one of dozens of smaller
   commercial operations, you can get access to even more of the Internet --
   but still indirectly, through a dial-up modem.

-- For you to be directly plugged into the Internet and use all its
   services, your computer must have what is inelegantly called a TCP/IP (for
   Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) connection. To set that
   up, you would probably need the help of a professional -- or better still,
   a teenager with a high-speed modem.

What are those Internet services?

-- E-mail, which is like the post office (only faster)

-- Talk, which is like the telephone (except that you have to type out
   everything you want to say)

-- Internet Relay Chat (IRC), which is like CB radio -- noisy and confusing

-- File Transfer Protocol (FTP), for fetching programs and big documents
   from remote computers

-- Telnet, to operate those remote computers from your own desktop

-- Archie, Veronica, Jughead and WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers),
   tools for searching the huge libraries of information stored on the Net

-- Gopher, for tunneling quickly from one place on the Net to another

-- The World-Wide Web, a more advanced navigation system that organizes its
   contents by subject matter

-- Mosaic, a kind of onscreen control panel that enables you to drive
   through the Web by pointing and clicking your electronic mouse

-- Internet Talk Radio, which broadcasts sound recordings (like the popular
   interview show Geek of the Week)

-- CUSeeMe, an Internet video conferencing system that enables up to eight
   users to see and hear each other on their computer screens

What is Usenet?

Usenet is a collection of electronic bulletin boards (called newsgroups)
set up by subject matter and covering just about every conceivable topic,
from molecular biology to nude sunbathing. The newsgroups are organized
into hierarchies, such as science (SCI), recreation (REC), society (SOC)
and the miscellaneous category called alternate (alt). A sampling:

-- sci.astro.hubble -- astronomical data from the Hubble Space Telescope

-- rec.arts.books -- where bookworms gather to discuss their favorite
   authors

-- comp.risks -- a digest of brief reports about computers run amuck

-- soc.culture.bosna.herzgvna -- where the war is fought with words, not
   mortars

-- alt.best.of.internet -- a place where people re-post choice tidbits
    found on the Net

-- alt.fan.lemurs -- celebrating the legend, lore and humor of Madagascar's
   most famous animals

How do I find the good stuff?

That depends on what you mean by good. If you are a professional, ask a
colleague for the name of the newsgroups or mailing lists devoted to your
specialty. Otherwise your best bet is to buy one of the dozens of Internet
guidebooks published in the past year and start exploring. In no particular
order:

-- The Internet: Complete Reference; Harley Hahn and Rick Stout; Osborne
   McGraw-Hill; $29.95

-- The Internet Navigator; Paul Gilster; John Wiley; $24.95

-- The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog; Ed Krol; O'Reilly; $24.95

-- Netguide; Peter Rutten, Albert Bayers and Kelly Maloni; Random House; $19

-- Internet Starter Kit; Adam Engst; Hayden; $29.95

-- Navigating the Internet; Mark Gibbs and Richard Smith; Sams Publishing;
   $24.95

-- Cruising Online; Lawrence Magid; Random House; $25

-- Internet Guide for New Users; Daniel Dern; McGraw-Hill; $27.95

-- How the Internet Works; Joshua Eddings; Ziff-Davis; $24.95

-- On Internet 94; Mecklermedia; $45

Is there such a thing as proper ''netiquette''?

Yes! (And thanks for asking.) A few tips for making friends and avoiding
unnecessary flames:

-- When you arrive at a new newsgroup, spend a couple of weeks lurking
   (reading messages without posting your own) to get a feel for the place
   before adding your two cents.

-- Keep your posts brief and to the point.

-- Stick to the subject of that particular newsgroup.

-- If you're responding to a message, quote the relevant passages or
   summarize it for those who may have missed it.

-- Don't start a ''flame war'' unless you're willing to take the heat.

-- Never publish private E-mail without permission.

-- Don't post test messages or clutter newsgroups with ''I agree'' and
   ''Me too!'' messages.

-- Don't type in all caps. (IT'S LIKE SHOUTING!)

-- Don't E-mail unsolicited advertisements.

-- Don't flame people for bad grammar or spelling errors.

-- Read your FAQs and don't ask stupid questions.


Copyright 1994 Time Inc. All rights reserved.


-- 
Philip Elmer-DeWitt                               ped@well.com
TIME Magazine             ped@panix.com           philiped@aol.com