TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: TELECOM Digest: Pat _was_ in the Hospital

Re: TELECOM Digest: Pat _was_ in the Hospital

Jack Hamilton (
Tue, 07 Mar 2006 17:46:44 -0500

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Actually, some of you newcomers who
> started reading this Digest since 1993 do not recall -- maybe never
> even heard of -- the great battle that year over comp.dcom.telecom.
> There were some people then -- they are still around today -- who do
> not care for my moderation of c.d.t, thus they began c.d.t.t. as a
> work around. They were going to have an election for a new moderator
> and vote for someone else. But one or more of the 'Usenet authorities'
> (at least at that time it was David Lawrence ['tale'] and Gene
> Spafford told them they could not do it; the technical reason is
> because c.d.t. is not actually a Usenet newsgroup.

That's not quite my recollection. The discussion on the moderator's
mailing list said, basically, that there was not (and as far as I know
still is not) any mechanism to call for a vote to replace a moderator.
Therefore such an election could not take place.

No moderators were in favor of creating such a mechanism. Dissidents
were free to create their own group if they didn't like an existing
group ( as an alternative to comp.dcom.telecom; as an alternative to, of which I was
then a co-moderator).

Jack Hamilton

<> Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit.
<> Francois VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Well, that is true also (about no
mechanism in place to handle it); they did not quite know what to do
with me. I was not voted 'in'; therefore could not be voted 'out'; I
was just doing my thing and they could either read it or reject it.
But there was also that sticky problem of what to do about
'newsgroups' which were never really part of the original Usenet News
scheme to begin with, such as telecom. So many of these names in the
past have been used interchangeably, i.e. 'Usenet', 'internet',
'Internet', 'the Web', and so forth. Just like the (now rarely used)
'Gopher', 'Archie', 'Veronica', 'Telnet' 'mail', 'Mail', 'mailx', 'elm',
'FTP', and many others, they are all _transport mechanisms_ which do a
lot the same thing: copy data and information from one site to another
site, but they are separate and distinct functions. Quite a few years
ago, someone once asked me 'how does Usenet work'? And I said what is
certainly an over simplification and has been changed some since I
said it: "Usenet is like a big mailbox with universal read/write
priviledges. Everyone can write to it, everyone can read from it, but
otherwise the contents move around a lot like any other mail, but
instead of it being chmod the owner only; it is chmod everyone."

Then too, as we know there can be but one _name_ per newsgroup; they
have to be _unique_; there can be only _one_ comp.dcom.telecom and it
was (still is, perhaps?) that choice bit of real-estate which many of
them desired in 1993. Again, I am reminded of the sale of WNIB: it
was parked smack-dab in the middle of the spectrum, at 96.9 and 97.1 FM
from a time when the space was so wide open. Sonia and Bill Florian
paid _nothing_ for a license to be there, and virtually nothing for
the transmitter. When the FM band got so full and busy in Chicago
there was not a single vacancy anywhere, people were willing to kill
to get those frequency allocations. The purchasers did not care about
classical music or anything else; all they wanted was _admission_ to
the FM spectrum in a good, juicy spot. They agreed that $165 million
was a good price to pay Sonia and Bill for 'permission to take over
their spot on a crowded spectrum. Imagine an obscene profit like that!
A license which cost the paperwork effort to apply for in the late
1950's, a transmitter which cost a few grand to install and maintain
over the years, payroll, etc. WNIB went on the air for less than ten
thousand dollars in the late 1950's; Sonia and Bill walked out with
$165 _million_ dollars at the time of the sale, that was how badly
that 96.9 - 97.1 FM spot was wanted. The new owners said to hell with
Bach and Beethoven, we want the right to oscillate at 97 megahertz,
that's all.

Now comes late 1970's and early 1980's: The newsgroup 'arpa.telecom'
did just fine. Comes the re-organizaton or 'great renaming' as it was
called in the middle 1980's, and 'arpa.telecom' became
'comp.dcom.telecom' but since it came over from ARPA rather than being
an entirely created by Usenet thing (they merely assigned us a name is
all for technical reasons) and everyone was happy. I guess it never
occurred to folks that there might some day be a fight over the _root
itself_ and here is this dude, Townson, squatting daintily over the
root, telecom, refusing to give up his squat pot, and no legal way to
evict him. And Bill Pfieffer, in one of his communications with
me in 1996 (he passed on in 1999) was like this: "Whatever you do,
make it work right; the way this shakes out is the way things are
going to be for many, many years. You best not give up control of the
'root' telecom. If you do, you'll never see it again."

Of course, just as the internet 'fathers' never suspected back in the
1980's nor early 90's how things would 'shake out' over the decade to
follow, neither did _I_ expect to become a decrepit, mostly feeble and
bitter old man in a decade either. Nor did Sonia Florian come close to
imagining she would walk out of WNIB $165 million richer than she
walked in. I would never even claim to come close to _their_ stature
nor anywhere close to the stature of the men and women who have made
the internet what it is (in good times, bad times?) today. That would
be the height of dillusions of grandeur on my part if I did. But when
the time comes for a transiion here, I do want to be fair about it,
and hope people will trust me in that way. PAT]

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