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Netizens-Digest Volume 1 Number 167

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Netizens Digest
 · 16 May 2024

Netizens-Digest         Tuesday, June 2 1998         Volume 01 : Number 167 

Netizens Association Discussion List Digest

In this issue:

[netz] Re: Indonesia revolt was Net driven (fwd)
[netz] Re: Netizens are net.citizens of the Net
[netz] Re: Netizens are net.citizens of the Net-George A. Stathis Reply


Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998 13:53:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ronda Hauben <>
Subject: [netz] Re: Indonesia revolt was Net driven (fwd)

Thought this was interesting so am sending it on to people on Netizens list.


- ---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998 00:22:33 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Steven Carlson <>
Subject: Indonesia revolt was Net driven

This is an excerpt from a piece in the Boston Globe. It's interesting to
watch how the net is developing as a tool of political dissent. I was
thinking about this a lot in Belgrade, as well. Where next?

(Saw it first on nettime)

- ---
Indonesia revolt was Net driven
By David L. Marcus, Globe Staff, 05/23/98

WASHINGTON - As rebellions broke out across Indonesia this month,
protesters did not have tanks or guns. But they had a powerful tool that
wasn't available during the country's previous uprisings: the Internet.

Bypassing the government-controlled television and radio stations,
dissidents shared information about protests by e-mail, inundated news
groups with stories of President Suharto's corruption, and used chat
groups to exchange tips about resisting troops. In a country made up of
thousands of islands, where phone calls are expensive, the electronic
messages reached key organizers.

''This was the first revolution using the Internet,'' said W. Scott
Thompson, an associate professor of international politics at the
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Thompson, like
many academics who follow developments in Indonesia, kept track of the
dissidents' communications with one another from thousands of miles

For the full story:

[This URL will break if your mail reader inserts a character return.]

Steven Carlson data is duty free
Online Europe moderator


Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998 16:46:54 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ronda Hauben <>
Subject: [netz] Re: Netizens are net.citizens of the Net

I am forwarding the 2nd part of my response to George A. Stathis
to the Netizens list as it concerns Netizens and thus
seems appropriate for this list as well.

I welcome comments on the discussion.

Responding to post by "George A. Stathis" <>
who is responding to quotes I posted by Leszek Jesien about
Netizenship as a model for Euorpean citzenship

Part II of Response

>> He asks the question "What does it mean to be a European
>> citizen? (pg 3) and refers to the work of the Reflection
>> Group in taking on to determine this issue.

>It's very important for us Europeans to _implement_ things
>like electronic voting; to devise a system whereby our own

In the early development of Usenet folks realized that
votes could easily be tampered with if there were electronic
voting, and they basically worked to have the discussion
among people onoline be the basis to make the decisions
about what would affect them.

This is more the model I felt that Jesien presented rather
than electronic voting.


>traditions, which the "spectacular American model" brushes
>over, since the American model of e-communities (also when
>imported in Europe) infantilises participants of e-communities

I didn't think of early Usenet as an "American model" but
rather an early online model - it was an example of
a lot of folks working very hard to create a new communication
medium and to make it available to others.

One of the early Usenet pioneers wrote that "My personal hope
is that the net will add to our capability to communicate
and do away with the horrible decisions that are made by
committee meetings "in secret" at some conference or other."

The early Usenet pioneers weren't trying to create a model
for offline, but they were trying to develop something new
and something that would make communication possible so
people could benefit from it. And what they developed has
important aspects for us to study and learn from.

Those who claim that there is no reason to look at the
actual data of how the Net was created, but instead
classify it as cyberlibertarian are losing the lessons
that we can learn from the important beginnings of the Net.

Often the principles of something new are clearest in its
early days as that is when it has to distinguish itself
from the old and figure out what the new is.

>as... irresponsible cattle run by cowboys! I.e. Dignity of citizens
>is NOT respected, in many/most American e-communities; Only

Early Usenet and the Internet were very far from "irresponsible
cattle run by cowboys!"

People were able to speak out and discuss their problems and
differences in a way that isn't often possible nowadays,
except on the Net.

Actually Usenet was popular among early system admins and
programmers because they believed it was important to learn
from the bugs that others discovered in UNIX, and to not
have to reinvent the wheel.

They felt that others should benefit from any work they

I have a paper about the early development of the Net
that is available at
(the full URL is at the end of this post)

It is the paper about the early days of the Usenet -

Instead of having some prejudice about what actually went
on, it would be good for those who are interested to read
the paper and discuss the actual details.

(I'll give the exact name of the file in another post)

>also the Net appears to be a vehicle for American culture atthe highest
>level: The level of CyberCultures' Organisation.However, we may begin to

But American culture has employers and employees - it has
corporate culture and public culture -- and the corporate
culture tries to insist it is all there is, but there
are those in the U.S. who are trying to defend the public
culture which includes the critique of the corporate attempt
to dominate all.

>recover from cultural colonialismby a systematic critique of "The American
>CyberDream", the
>source of many of our problems: The Magna Carta of Cyber-
>Space is _ultra-right conservative thinking in freedom-loving

But the Magna Carta of Cyberspace isn't the draft Declaration of
the Rights of Netizens --

The original post was talking about looking at Netizens and
learning from them, not looking at the Magna Carta.

>disguise_. Just because there isn't a "real" alternative to the
>"One World" of this CyberDream, doesn't mean that there can't
>be one in the immediate future. -But in order to construct such
>alternatives we must develop a Critical Theory of CyberSpace.

But early Usenet and the early Internet are important sources
of understanding about how to develop and spread a new
communiations media --

What you are proposing is more like when Tom Paine came to
American he should have asked for a critical theory of
British Colonialism, but instead he realized that what
had been developed in American was a new form that
grew out of the criticism, but was more than the criticism.

Thus I am proposing that your "critical theory of cyberspace"
is a step backwards as it doesn't look at or learn from
the new form that networking technology and Netizens have

>> His article then looks at various definitions of citizenship:
>> "By the political element I mean the right to participate
>> and exercise of political power,. as a member of a body invested
>> with political authority..." (quoting "Class,. Citizenship,.
>> and Social Development,. 1977)
>> "...the core of the issue of .... citizenship"
>> "The issue of responsible participation in the political life."

>All these things necessitate electronic voting, orsome other system of
>collective decision-making.
>So, :-) WHERE IS IT??? huh? :-)

No as I said before, and as Jesien says, it isn't voting that this
refers to. It is referring to participation - to the exchange of
ideas, to the participation in something important --
not to representation but to the direct participation that the Net
makes possible in decisions.

My paper on early Usenet describes how people took part in
decision by discussing them rather than by voting.
And how through the discussion ideas were developed that solved
the problems that were being discussed so that there wasn't a
need for voting.

I thought also that early Greek democracy felt that once there
was a vote, the democratic process was over, as the democratic
process was the discussion and debate, not the vote.

>> "The defining point of this process will be the *transition*
>> from the *concept* of the *market* to that of citizenship
>> by which I mean a greater direct involvement of the citizens
>> in the running of the Union (European Union)."

>Exactly. Let the U.S. slide on a slope of market-basedpseudo-democracy;
>the "democracy" of feudal landlords
>and their obedient citizens/consumers... In Europe, in the

Here we agree also - that the Net that was built was built
under government and academic funding and decisions -- and
that trying to change it into some kind of "market based"
entity is disastrous to all.

And that is what those who are trying to make the Net commercial
are trying to do.

>meantime, we can do better than this: We can laugh with
>the way American CyberSpace deteriorates, whilst finding
>novel ways to develop people's participation in our affairs.

I hope you won't laugh, but will help us to fight against
the attack that commercialization ofthe Net represents.

I recently met someone who said that he had been told that
some of those working to commercialize the Internet wanted
to stop the free discussion that went on on the Internet and
that was the purpose of their commercialization activities.

>> "....By fulfilling all possible needs (understood as rights)
>> of the people we do not create citizenship."

>Nope; in the end, a citizen cannot have "representatives"but needs to voice
>his opinions *directly*...
>All the technical preconditions for _direct democracy_ are
>already here and yet NO such thing has been implemented.
>Why? :->>>

That is why I have found the study of early Usenet and the early
ARPANET mailing lists important, as there direct democracy was
implemented :-)

So we can learn about what happens when we try to implement
direct democracy.

>> "It may be a necessary condition,. but it certainly is not a
>> sufficient one."
>> " a democratic polity it is the principle that power can be
>> held and governance exercised only with the consent of the
>> governed."

>"Manufacturing consent" (tm Chomsky) is the way governments"legitimise
>themselves", and is of no consequence. What we in
>Europe must grasp, is that in the world to come, perhaps in many
>years or decades from now, there will have to be 100% collective
>decision making ANYWAY. That our politicians and our old politics
>are ALREADY DEAD, because Representative Democracy is dying.
>We should not feed the... vampires of today's politics, but prepare for
>a future without them: A future characterised by corporate rule, and by
>feudal social organisation (on one side), and by an as-yet-undeveloped
>"new system" of "direct citizens' participation", which is *our* task to
>develop here in Europe. If we don't develop it here in Europe, we are
>going to be lost inside the other "feudal system", never overcoming it.

Here we disagree as I see any form of unfettered corporate
rule a problem. I don't know about your experience in Greece,
but in the U.S. the government has an obligation to allow
a complaint process, but corporations have *NO* such obligation.
It is difficult to get the government to live up to its obligations,
but the corporations see *NO* obligations except their bottom
line and they will ride rough shod over all to achieve it.

That was the experience in the U.S. at the turn of the last century
and that led to government regulations being put into law that
held corporate entities to certain social obligations.

Life would be even more impossible than now if there were no
government in the U.S. with an obligation to regulate the

It seems here that what you are proposing is very similar
to what the libertarians propose -- getting rid of all
government regulation over the corporations.

>> "...the Europeans are dissatisfied with the European politics"

>If they knew more about American politics they'd be glad tobe European...

And the Americans are dissatisfied with American politics --

and we are all looking for some way to solve the problems
we are facing every day because of the breakdown of political
processes and forms.

>> "In the member states of the Union,. and elsewhere in the democratic
>> world the citizens are dissatisfied with their political institutions,.
>> their politicians,. the way things are going in their countries."

>Of course, and this is a natural process. On both sides of
>the Atlantic, gradually politicians will be swept away by
>the two processes mentioned...

But there would be no NET if there were no government. The ARPANET
and then the Internet were developed under government processes
and government funding and with academic sites doing the development
work and the architecture (with Netizens as the architects :)

The corporate world in the U.S. at least couldn't create the kind
of technological development represented by the ARPANET or the Internet
because the corporate world is interested in its bottom line --
in showing a profit, not in scientific or technological

Without government in the U.S. there would be *NO* science
and the important technological developments wouldn't happen.

These require the kind of long range funding that only government
can make available.

>Corporations will rule anyway; the issue is how to make
>"peope's corporations", and what kind of social structure
>such "new corporations" will have. ???

If corporations rule then there is no society. Then we are
all slaves to their bottom line dictates.

>> "Philippe Schmitter argues that the future is rather for the post
>> liberal kind of democracy than the 'more liberal'."
>> "the more liberal with less democracy -- radical privatization
>> with less of citizens participation resulting in a de-democratisation"
>> "or the pre-liberal one (a kind of new 'civic republicanism' with
>> more of direct rule of the people.)

>What exactly is "post liberalism"?

It would be good to see more of what Schmitter is proposing.
This would be worth doing some research about, as it is
helpful to see something opposing liberalism and noting that
liberalism means less democracy and that privatization
means less democracy.

>Here in Europe we suffered enough :-) to be able to
>understand Libertarianism and CyberLibertarianism...

And it is good to see that some -- at least Jasien -- feels it
is important to understand Netizens and Netizenship :-)

It is as if you are saying if one studies the Socialists in
France, then one doesn't need to try to understand the
French concept of citizenship.

But to say that "Nous sommes le roi" is very different from
saying that one belongs to some French political party.

>> "The post-liberal version is not yet clearly formulated."

>I'd bet it's not...

And it would be good to work on formulating it.

>> "At the time the European Union struggles to shape the European
>> citizenship with much effort and little success, the other
>> citizenship - Netizenship - emerges. The IGC negotiators and
>> European political leaders should perhaps look at this
>> phenomenon with sympathy and attention."

>Who? Politicians?They are... sad greedy bastards trying to save their
>by grabbing a piece of wood in the sea; THIS is how they
>see the Net, licking their lips, and rubbing their hands.
>But the Net is NOT a life-saving piece of... e-wood for
>a sinking political system, NOR a... device for corporate
>imperialism. It's just a... strange communication medium
>- -and the strangest thing about it is that nobody's yet done
>enough of the simplest things inside it... (like e-voting)...

I agree that the Net is something different from politicians or
the corporate entities - -or what they want to make it -- but
I don't agree that it is anything "strange". Rather it is
a wondrous new communications medium.

Just the fact you and I can be having this discussion --
given that you are logged on from a computer in Greece
(are you in Greece?) and I am logged onto a computer at
Columbia in NYC - (and have telnetted to my panix account) is
quite amazing.

And this week someone from Japan who we only knew on the Net
came to visit NYC and we met her and her husband and learned
about why she in Japan feels the Net is so important.

I disagree too that e-voting is one of the "simplest things"

Rather I feel we have done much of the effort to undertand
and explore how this new communication medium makes it possible
to identify the problems we are faced with and to try to do
something to solve them.

>> I wondered if there is similar work going on elsewhere
>> studying the work of Netizens and Netizenry.


>> My research involves looking at early Usenet and the early
>> Internet and it is important that those who are interested
>> in these issues or are doing such work communicate and
>> collaborate.

>If we look at early Usenet, chances are we will be
>seriously mislead. Usenet and e-lists are not the
>same anymore. They're more like a... sewer full
>of "bad memes". :->

To the contrary the currently Usenet made it possible for
you to see my post and send your comments.

And I have found that early Usenet is helpful as it clarifies
what the new medium makes possible, even if the those pushing
commercialization are trying to overwhelm Usenet with junk

>Enough said, there's lots to be done (by you);
>Keep it up, and keep us humble netizens informed.

Your comments are an encouragement and help to see that the
research is important.

I would especially welcome comments on the paper on
the early days of Usenet and hope that you would find it
interesting to see what light it can shed on our discussion
of Netizenship as a model for citizenship of the future.
The UR is

Also chapter 10 in "Netizens:On the History and Impact of
Usenet and the Internet" is another article that it would
be helpful to discuss and have more feedback about with
respect to this discussion.


Netizens: On the History and Impact
of Usenet and the Internet
and in edition published by the IEEE CS Press
ISBN 0-8186-7706-6


Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998 16:54:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ronda Hauben <>
Subject: [netz] Re: Netizens are net.citizens of the Net-George A. Stathis Reply

Here is the reply I received from
From: "George A. Stathis" <>


>From Mon Jun 1 19:42:44 1998

From: "George A. Stathis" <>
Subject: Re: Netizens are net.citizens of the Net
X-Comment: CYBERURBANITY Mailing List - Archives: - DUThWeb:

Ronda Hauben wrote:

> Here is Michael's preface to our Netizens book. I thought it was
> important to add to this discussion as it sets out to discuss
> how the word Netizens is used, and how Michael's early online research
> led to the realization that there were people who cared about the Net
> and the communication it made possible, and who made the effort to
> contribute to the Net so it would grow and flourish. Also people
> worked to spread the Net to others who didn't have access.

Good points. Which is why "people who care" being nowadays so few
are _probably_ powerless to change the structure of cyber-communities
towards a truly democratic direction. To give you a concrete example:
- -Say you wished for greater participation of people within "democratic
mailing lists" where list-members vote (instead of passively accepting
the directives and rules of list-owners). Sooner or later you will hit
against insurmountable difficulties, such as e.g. people's inability, or
"unconscious unwilligness" to become active "voting participants";
or someone's dry comments that you are about to generate chaos and
dismay and/or reduce the (particular) mailing list to a cacophony of
flames, such as in Usenet; and so on. Moreover, to be quite frank
with you I'd personally not join more than 1 or 2 lists where active
participation as regards voting etc. is practised; because this would
tax any individual's powers of attention, already afflicted by things
like "Information Overload". In one such example, the University
of St. John's "maelstrom" server, where about 750 lists are hosted,
there is a completely "feudal" system which excludes ALL forms of
collective decision making, and automatically expels all "dissidents";
you can't even complain about a particular list's affairs without being
forcibly kicked out from ALL 750 lists, and so on.

In general the basic pattern, the basic organisational principle of
nearly all cyber-communities is consumeristic, feudalistic and
cyber-libertarian. And even of people wanted to change this, their
powers to do so, or their inner willingness to do so is scarce (by

The cyber-libertarian "dream" already rules the Internet; it's only a few
years before it can, perhaps, rule the world. As very serious predictions
claimed, by the year 2010 the world will be run by "Virtual Companies"
- -and of course such companies are going to adopt the "feudal/libertarian"
model of self-organisation (and no voting or other citizens' participation).

As a final point, consider this: OFFICIALLY the "free world" consists
of "democracies" but _in practice_, if we look at the way people function
at work, at home, and in their surroundings, the system is still quite _feudal_;

Employees have no participation in companies' decisions, and so on; even
the remotely "democratic" dreams of some old libertarian crusaders have not
been implemented anywhere except by a handful of companies/communities.
And as another posting showed, this is part of libertarianism's deeper
contradictions, e.g. claiming to free everyone from restrictions, it restricts
everyone but a few; and so on.

> It would seem important to discuss the term Netizen.


> My initial research concerned the origins and development of the
> global discussion forum Usenet. For my second paper, I wanted to explore
> the larger Net and what it was and its significance. This is when my
> research uncovered the remaining details that helped me to recognize the
> emergence of Netizens. There are people online who actively contribute
> towards the development of the Net. These people understand the
> value of collective work and the communal aspects of public
> communications. These are the people who discuss and debate topics in
> a constructive manner, who e-mail answers to people and provide
> help to new-comers, who maintain FAQ files and other public information
> repositories, who maintain mailing lists, and so on. These are
> people who discuss the nature and role of this new communications
> medium. These are the people who as citizens of the Net, I
> realized were Netizens. However, these are not all people.
> Netizens are not just anyone who comes online, and they are
> especially not people who come online for individual gain or
> profit. They are not people who come to the Net thinking it is a
> service. Rather they are people who understand it takes effort
> and action on each and everyone's part to make the Net a
> regenerative and vibrant community and resource. Netizens are
> people who decide to devote time and effort into making the Net,
> this new part of our world, a better place. Lurkers are not
> Netizens, and vanity home pages are not the work of Netizens.
> While lurking or trivial home pages do not harm the Net, they do
> not contribute either.


However, the present very bad state of Usenet shows the direction
towards which "the majority" moves; and it's not a pleasant or a
particularly "respectful" or "caring" or "democratic" direction;
It's sheer chaos, the type of chaos that justifies rigidification and
new forms of authority; for the latter, there are enough e-lists to
"help out", with straightening the "wicked weeds"... and if you dont
like it there, it's just... _too_ baaad. :->



End of Netizens-Digest V1 #167

--===========================_ _= 5775146(144)--

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