Cu Digest Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs about Cu Digest
(1 December, 2000)
The primary question we have been asked in the last year is:
"Does CuD still publish?" The answer is NO.
Why? Time constraints, numerous other sources for similar information,
and changes in editors' interests. It's fun for a decade, but time to
(jt - 1 December, 2000)
We're asked the following questions often enough that we compiled
the following list. If you have additional questions, let us
know, and we'll add them.
Additional information can be obtained by dropping a note to
Jim and Gordon at [email protected]
or mailing us at Cu-Digest/Department of Sociology/Northern Ill.
University/DeKalb, IL 60115
ANSWER 1:: Cu-Digest, or CuD, is a weekly on-line electronic journal/news
digest. CuD began at the suggestion and encouragement of Pat Townson
(moderator of Telecomm Digest) in March 1990. The federal indictments
of Craig Neidorf (in the "PHRACK case" in Chicago) and Len Rose (in
Baltimore) generated more posts than Pat could manage, and the nature
of posts exceeded his Digest's Usenet charter. Jim Thomas and Gordon
Meyer volunteered to collect the surplus posts, and Pat helped get it
started. It was originally conceived as an interim forum that would
quietly depart after a few months. Volume 1, in fact, was originally
intended as the first and final volume in Aust '90, but a week later
Volume 2 appeared because of the continuous material. As of
this writing, CuD is publishing Volume 6. Each issue is
about 40-50 K.
Computer underground Digest is intended as a forum for the
discussion of legal, ethical, social, and other issues
regarding computerized information and communications. We
welcome contributions reflecting diversity of thought and
ANSWER 2:: The broad goal of CuD is to provide a forum for
discussion and debate of the computer telecommunications
culture. This culture especially includes, but is not
limited to, the unique world of BBSes, Internet, and public
access systems. We focus especially on alternative groups
that exist outside of the conventional net community. We
try to focus on a broad range of issues that include news,
debates of legal, ethical, and technical issues, and
scholarly research of relevance to a broad audience of
professionals and lay persons. Other than providing a
context for an article if necessary, the moderators *DO NOT*
add commentary of agreement or disagreement. We see our
role as one of facilitating debate, although we may take
part in discussions in separate articles.
ANSWER 3: Jim Thomas publishes CuD from Northern
Illinois University. Gordon Meyer is former co-editor. Gordon Meyer's MA thesis,
"The Social Organization of the Computer Underground", was the first
systematic attempt to place the social world of "phreaks,
hackers, and pirates" in a context that looked at the
culture, rather than the "deviance", of alternative uses of
computer use. Gordon is currently a system engineer with a
large national firm in the Chicago area. Jim Thomas, a
professor of sociology/criminology at Northern Illinois
University, is a prison researcher and qualitative
methodologist. Gordon lured him into the "underground"
world 1987, and he has since become interested in the legal
and cultural issues of computer use.
Gordon can be reached at: [email protected]
Jim can be reached at: [email protected]
ANSWER 4: For some, the term underground connotes malice and a
dark side of human activity. For others, including the CuD
editors, it denotes alternative to conventional media.
An electronic digest is an alternative to hard-copy forms of
information sharing. Like the "underground," or
"alternative" press of the counterculture of the 1960s or
"underground music" or radio of the 90s, the "computer
underground" refers to types of behavior or characteristics
of a subculture that are unique, cohesively identifiable,
possessing norms, roles, and social expectations that define
participants, and are considered socially marginal by the
dominant culture. Like the term "hacker," there were
originally no negative connotations associated with
"underground" when the term was first used. The name
"Computer underground Digest" was suggested with a bit of
irony prior to the first issue (how, after all, can a
conventional digest that is publicly accessible be
"underground?"). The name also is a play on the title of
Gordon's M.A. Thesis, "The Social Organization of the
'Computer Underground'." Early discussions to change the
name seemed impractical once the "CuD" monogram was
established, and the name stands.
ANSWER 5: The term "hacker" has been grossly distorted by the
media and law enforcement personnel, who use it synonymously
with "computer intruders." CuD editors have repeatedly
stated their own opposition to all forms of predatory and
malicious behavior, including malicious computer intrusion.
We accept Bob Bickford's definition of a "hacker" as someone
who derives joy from discovering ways to exceed
limitations. Hackers, in the original sense, referred to
explorers who solved problems and exceeded conventional
limits through trial and error in situations in which there
were no formal guidelines or previous models from which to
draw. In this sense, CuD is quite "pro-hacker," and we
prefer the term "cracker" for malicious practitioners of the
hacking craft. Exploration is good, predation is not.
However, CuD encourages articles from all perspectives and
attempts to provide a forum for reasoned discussion on all
sides of an issue. CuD opposes predatory behavior by any
group, whether computer enthusiasts or those who oppose
them. CuD is for civil liberties and for civilizing the
electronic frontier by securing rights assumed in other
social realms and by advocating protection from all forms of
CuD attempts to document the computer culture and ease the
transition as the culture moves toward the mainstream with
articles that bridge the cultural gaps as telecomputing
becomes an increasingly important part of daily life. The
political, legal, economic, and social impact of changes in
the new technology is poorly covered elsewhere. We see our
goal as addressing the impact of these changes and providing
alternative interpretations to events.
ANSWER 6: We encourage submissions on a broad range of topics,
from articulate short responses and longer opinion pieces to
book reviews, summaries of research, and academic papers.
We especially encourage:
1. Reasoned and thoughtful articles on economic, ethical,
legal, and other issues related to the computer underground.
2. Verbatim printed newspaper or magazine articles
containing relevant stories. If you send a transcription of
an article, be sure it contains the source *and* the page
numbers so references can be checked. Also be sure that no
copyright protections are infringed.
3. Public domain legal documents (affidavits, indictments,
court records) that pertain to relevant topics.
4. General discussion of news, problems, or other issues
that contributors feel should be aired.
5. Unpublished academic papers, "think pieces," or research
results are strongly encouraged. These would presumably be
long, and we would limit the size to about 800 lines (or 40
K). Longer articles appropriate for distribution would be
sent as a single file and so-marked in the header.
6. Book reviews that address the social implications of
7. Bibliographies (especially annotated), transcripts of
relevant radio or television programs (it is the poster's
responsibility to assure that copyrights are not violated),
and announcements and reports of relevant conferences and
conference papers are strongly encouraged.
8. Announcements for conferences, meetings, and other events
as well as summaries after they've occurred.
9. Suggestions for improvement, general comments or
criticisms of CuD, and ideas for articles are especially
10. Interviews with relevant people involved in law, policy,
culture, or some other aspect of computer culture.
11. Conference panel transcripts relevant to computer
Although we encourage debate, we stress that ad hominem
attacks or personal squabbles will not be printed. Although
we encourage different opinion, we suggest that these be
well-reasoned and substantiated with facts, citations, or
other "evidence" that would bolster claims. Although CuD is
a Usenet group, it does not, except in the rarest of cases,
print post-response-counterresponse in the style common
among most other groups.
WE DO NOT PUBLISH: 1) flames, 2) short "me too" blurbs, 3)
Usenet style responses of 5-line knee-jerk opinion; 5)
articles in bad taste.
ANSWER 7: To submit an article, simply send it to the editors at
[email protected]. If you
receive CuD on Usenet, you can use your favorite reply
command and your response will come directly to the editors
and will not be distributed across the nets. If you do not
have an article, but know of people who do, encourage them
to send their work along. Although CuD is a forum for
opposing points of view, we do prefer that articles a) be
written in English, b) make sense, and c) are not out-dated.
Submissions should be formatted at 70 characters per line
and should include a blank space separating individual
paragraphs. Submissions may be edited for spelling and
format, but no other changes are ever intentionally made
without permission. Sigs are also removed to save bandwidth.
If you do not have internet access, you can send an article
on an IBM compatible floppy disk to: Cu-Digest, Dept. of
Sociology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60015.
ANSWER 8: Fair use doctrine allows reasonable quotes to be used.
So, cite the most relevant or crucial parts and summarize
the rest. Very short articles, however, may generally be
reproduced without permission.
ANSWER 9: ONLY IF ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Good writing does not
require excessive quoting. Sometime's it's necessary, but it
should be avoided. In addition to being generally bad
writing, CuD simply lacks room for repititous back-and-forth
comments/rejoinders. Parsimony should rule.
ANSWER 10: As a conservative estimate, CuD currently reaches
about 500,000+ readers each issue. About two percent of the
readership receives CuD by direct E-mail. The rest read it
from Usenet's comp.society.cu-digest, or obtain it from
BBSes, public access systems (such as GEnie or America On-Line),
and the ftp/www sites.
Judging from a survey we took in 1990 and from the feedback
we receive from readers, CuD readers cut across
occupational, ideological, and age lines. The overwhelming
majority (about 80 percent) of the readership is college
graduates. About half is computer professionals or in
related fields. The remaining half is distributed among a
variety of professions (attorneys, journalists,
academicians, law enforcement, students) and territory (the
mailing list includes every continent.
ANSWER 11: If you're reading this, you've already received it,
and most likely you can just keep doing whatever you did to
get it. If you aren't sure what you did, you can do any of
CuD is *FREE*. It costs nothing. The editors make no profit,
we take no money, we accept no gifts (but we drink Jack
Daniels and lots of it, should you run into us in a pub). To
receive CuD, you can access it from many BBSes and most
public access systems. Or, if you have Usenet access, you
can obtain it by subscribing through your local system to
If you do not have Usenet access, you can be placed on a
mailing list by dropping a short note to:
[email protected] with the subject header: SUB CuD and
a message that says:
ANSWER 12: No, at least not from the editors. Unfortunately, the
size of back issues and the number of requests is prohibitive,
and we can no longer send out back issues in any form.
ANSWER 13: By sending a message that says: UNSUB in the subject line
to: [email protected]
ANSWER 14: On the ftp sites. Current information on ftp sites
and public access systems is in the CuD header. Or, try:
ANSWER 15: CuD is read by many non-Usenet readers. Bitnet
readers, for example, obtain CuD from the mailing list and
rarely participate in Usenet forums. Many readers have no
net access at all, and they read CuD from public access
systems such as GEnie, The Well, or Compuserve, or from
their favorite BBS. Therefore, we try to provide non-net
readers with as much news as possible.
ANSWER 16: Ask your local Sysad. If you have a system that allows
ftp transfers, we recommend Brendan Kehoe's ZEN AND THE ART
OF THE INTERNET or Ed Krol's THE WHOLE INTERNET as quick
primer on ftp and other Internet/Usnet tricks.
ANSWER 17: In order to be read by most mailers as a digest,
posts must be divided by a marker (i.e., a space and a
series of dashes) and three lines indicating From:,
Subject:, and Date:. We often must add these manually,
because they may not be included properly in the original
post, or we may not receive the posts in electronic form.
When reposting articles from other sources, we try when
possible to use the author in the From: line (rather than
the moderators) to allow respondants to communicate directly
with the original author by (on Unix) hitting "r" or "R".
When a poster requests anonymity, we change both the From:
and Date: lines.
ANSWER 18: Yes. As we indicated in CuD 1.00 (1990), there are many
reasons for anonymity, especially if one fears employment
repercussions. However, we STRONGLY DISCOURAGE anonymous
postings without good cause.
ANSWER 19: CuDs may be distributed as long as they are not sold,
compiled as part of a CD collection and sold, or distributed for
money. They may not be reproduced hard-copy and sold. However, it
is perfectly acceptable to upload them to BBSes or public access
systems, even if these are "pay" boards. CuDs may also be given
away, sent to friends, Net-fed to other systems, or run-off hard
copy and given away. Some articles, however, are copyright by the
authors with explicit limitations, and for these articles, the
authors should be contacted. When distributing or citing, CuDs may
not be altered, and attribution (when quoting) should be given to
the author and to CuD.
ANSWER 20: Only if you keep it to yourself.
ANSWER 21:The graphic is an NSI domain map, circa 1993. It was
obtained from PC-EXEC BBS in Milwaukee. There was no other information about
it, and the original uploader no long subscribes to the BBS.
ANSWER 22: Just click on the address below.
Any questions, drop me a note. Jim Thomas - [email protected]/A>
ANSWER 23:No, CuD does NOT accept advertising or engage in
any commercial-oriented enterprise. We do not review products, publish
commercial press releases, or serve as a conduit for corporate announcments.
However, we do review books, publish legitimate conference information,
and announce employment opportunities.
ANSWER 24:The editors publish CuD as a public service, and
once in a while real-world obligations curtail available time.
The most recent hiatas, from October, 1999 to March 2000, were the result
of academic research obligations and deadlines. This will likely
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Last Update - 12 March, 2000 - 18:10