inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #26 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Sun 2 Jul 00 12:04
no no no gonzo does not equal careless or thoughtless. it means that the
style of tdb is well, not like michael harrington's other america nor
susan faludi's backlash. it is more like tom wolfe writing 'the painted
word' or hunter thompson writing about the hell's angels. tdb is a rant,
but one backed up with reporting and facts. a funny treatment of
a serious subject. a closely-argued minutely-factual policy treatise
it is not. in a wiered way susan sontag's illness as metaphor was a model
becuase it was a booklength essay, back up by facts, but still, more
exploration of ideas/her take on a subject than journalism per se.
although obviously she + i have very different styles...
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #27 of 150: RUSirius (rusirius) Sun 2 Jul 00 12:32
i think i'm the one who equated gonzo with carelessness in the sense that
i'm not going to worry if hunter thompson is being a bit loose with the
details if he's clearly pushing the edges of reality and sanity with his
writing..   i don't think paulina was doing that, so the errors are less
easily forgiven, particularly from someone who approves of onions...  but
what the heck.  i've moved on...
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #28 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Sun 2 Jul 00 19:04
these discussions of genre and tone rather remind me of the cliche of
blind persons attmepting to describe an elephant. i suggest people
concerned about the quality of tdb head over to, the website
for new york city's public radio station where my publisher
has place in the chat/forum a chapter from tdb...
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #29 of 150: Owen Thomas (dither) Sun 2 Jul 00 19:10
There are also ample excerpts available at
Which brings me to a question I've had for a while: Paulina,
you've resisted having a homepage (self-maintained, self-
promoting) for so long. Why did you give in?
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #30 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Sun 2 Jul 00 20:41
hmm, owen, as you know, the good brian <zisk> set up that unofficial
home fan web page yrs ago --- as a result of an argument he + I
were having about web-publishing/personal web-pages. this was back
in 95/96; i felt (and still somewhat feel) than that personal
web pages were a mixture of vanity press and bilboard, and since
i didnt want to be participating in the creation of either,
i wanted nothing to do with it. but it -has- turned out
to be infinitely useful for me as a -writer- to have one
repository for my writings, stuff people have written about me,
etc etc. and i enjoy the snotty asides the zisk braintrust makes
about my doings...

as for the the official site, i knew i needed
one central place to refer media types as tdb got going.
and since i have been online and on the web for so long,
i had a clear sense of what i wanted the site to be:
helpful, informative, amusing if possible, complete.
in the media and marketing saturated age, it is naive and narcissitic
and princessy to pretend you dont have to be a slavering slobbering
marketing toad; and particularly, if you are a little-known
writer who has written a book on a topic that doesnt lend itself
to an elevator pitch, you have to work harder.
i hope the site comes across more as a backgrounder/white paper,
than a press release, so to speak.

also, since tdb is about cyberculture, shouldnt i have a
-good- website?

so it was just facing reality, that lead me to do it;
and i tried to do it in such a way that i wouldnt become
icked out in the process.

and it has already proved useful thus far, both for people
interested in tdb and internally, as it were, for my publisher
and publicists...

certain things still go to the zisk site (frinstance, the link
to my rebuttal to mr raymond, because that was really not about
tdb, per se) and things which are more narrowly aboyt tdb
(reviews, etc) go to the cyberselfish site...
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #31 of 150: Owen Thomas (dither) Sun 2 Jul 00 21:33
(To help out anyone who, like me, couldn't find the link to
Paulina's response to Raymond on Salon, it's here.)
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #32 of 150: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 2 Jul 00 23:39
Also has a link to Brad Weiners' review, which is at

Brad makes tdb sound like a time capsule...
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #33 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Mon 3 Jul 00 00:14
which is sorta is, and sorta isnt. i am doing something for
mark dery's 'artbyte' for the sept/oct issue which addresses
the ah continuing currency of the rhetoric/ideology tdb seeks
to ah, squint at...
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #34 of 150: Owen Thomas (dither) Mon 3 Jul 00 09:42
That's a very interesting issue to address, Paulina: the currency
of Cyberselfish. In the go-go years (well, year) of 1999, a lot
of VCs got frothy about setting up "nonprofit incubators" and
"charity VC funds" and other such nonsense. I suspect that a lot
of those plans have been abandoned now that the VCs have to worry
about keeping their startup portfolios alive and kicking. What
say you? Was last year's wave of VC charity just a fad, or am I
being too harsh on Silicon Valley's moneybags?
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #35 of 150: The salon stopped responding (rocket) Mon 3 Jul 00 11:03
Thanks for the thoughtful responses, <loris>.  Subsequent posts have
hinted at the dissatisfaction with the WIRED coverage which
are real, and I'm surprised you haven't heard about.  I thought your
responses most met the objections pretty well.
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #36 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Mon 3 Jul 00 11:16
thanx rocket.
and as to yr question, owen,

hmm, the currency of tdb and the philanthropy issue arent issues i would
normally conjoin. the high-tech philanthropy apologists have been telling me
for yrs that i's all gonna be ok, just you wait, it's gonna get so grand
everything i say will be totally obsolete. well maybe, and from their mouths
to god's ears. but i kinda doubt it.

i keep on having amusing validations for the currency of tdb. mainstream
radio hosts who interview me phrase their questions about high-tech in
exactly the libertarian way. email i got in response to my rebuttal to eric
raymond was exactly that of the anguished freedom fighter too long oppressed
by the likes of the brutal State, of which i am a running dog lackey. etc

so owen, i hadnt really thought about the change in venture philanthropy,
what with the low-grade panic in the valley and the thudding to earth
brought about the reality of time/space/supply/demand/profit/loss.

but does anyone believe for a -second- that since things are getting tighter
in high-tech that frills like donating a small percentage of pre-ipo stock
to a foundation wont get cut?

does anyone know how much of the new money of the last few yrs was actually
monetized? this may be part of the answer to the question...
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #37 of 150: Owen Thomas (dither) Mon 3 Jul 00 17:07
From all external market indicators, a good deal of it was
sunk into big, expensive cars and small, expensive houses.
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #38 of 150: Martin Minow (minow) Mon 3 Jul 00 19:51
I often wonder whether the "libertarian" wing of the Internet
(particularly the cypherpunk community) are so visible because they
just plain won't shut up. After hearing them rant for a while, the only
sane response is to smile politely and move on to something more
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #39 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Mon 3 Jul 00 20:34
as so amusingly depicted in the movie 'get shorty', just as not everyone can
or should be a writer, in spite of the common cultural idea that anyone can
do it, so it is with web design and maintenace. what's more, i do like to
give credit where credit is due:

- the tdb website was designed by tori orr, IA virtuoso who works at
marchfirst. tori and i worked on it iteratively and intermittently for a
year; her talent and my stubborness made it what it is. tori has had a
secret desire to be a book designer, so this was her chance to do something
ah bookish

- the tdb website is maintained by the valiant and overworked peter huemer
of user-friendly computing in santa cruz. he's been my computer guy for five
yrs, and was profiled as part of an article katie hafner did in ny times
circuits on people tethered to their jobs by high-tech. while i understand
coding in principle (a psycholinguistics degree where you are forced to deal
with linguistic transformations and symbolic grammars is awfully good
background for all this], i simply dont have that pointilist attention to
detail. i cant type, dont enjoy doing puzzles, and no, it's not, as one of
my libertarian attackers suggested, that i couldnt do calculus. i studied it
fine when i was 14; i just was -irked- by it, found it irritating.

and mr minow, i know what you mean about vocal libertarian (minority)
cypherpunks, and the desire to tune out. very much. otoh, i cant begin to
enumerate the number of times i've gotten into a conversation with a sweet
smart thoughtful geek who will utter some variant of the line 'i'm not a
libertarian like that [crazy][cypherpunk] wacko over there, but i do believe
that the market is the best measure of what works/that the government
interferes too much in our lives/of course i'm a philanthropist, i give
angel money/mumble mumble economy mumble ecosystem'.
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #40 of 150: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 3 Jul 00 22:46
I just got into your discussion of CFP, and I think you way overstate
cypherpunk influence on the conference. As you know, I've clocked quite a
few CFP hours... and cypherpunks have been only a small part of the mix.
You may be confusing the ongoing discussions of crypto with some kind of
cypherpunk influence, but I don't see it. I also don't think the
cypherpunks fit neatly into the (techno)libertarian camp.

I'd like to say more about the last CFP I attended, in DC, but we partied
like rock stars and missed a bunch of the panels. *8-)
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #41 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Tue 4 Jul 00 09:56
jon dearest, i am going to have to draw some fine distinctions here. i've
been to 3 cfps --- 95, 97, and 2000. and i think i make it very clear in tdb
that cfps are about all kinds of things, attracting all different kinds of
people. that being said, to -me-, the cpunk influence was the ah most
distinctive and identifiable unique flavor at the mid 90s cfps; it was the
extreme cultural influence that most had to be grappled with/acknowledged. i
never said the cpunk aspect of cfp was all of it. but impressionaistically,
it was the most striking/distinctive aspect of former cfps. both in the good
senses, cpunks as radical pro-privacy activisits, and in the more scary
sense, of 'hmm, what is the worldview they are espousing'. and as i say
-repeatedly- in tdb, cpunks have been the most radical/outlyer/extremist of
a culture; and as i also said repeatedly in tdb, the cpunks are rather like
sds/weatherpeople, as compared to rest of the 60s lefties --- and are worth
examining as such.

of course cfp 2000 was quite quite different: it was in canada (a civil and
much more socialist place than the usa); the crypto wars have largely been
won by Us; there arent too many canadian cpunks; and besides they've gone to
startups/may be less interested in the knotty, complex, how-do-we-work-it-
out issues now facing cfp attendees: stuff like -corporate- privacy issues
(oh dear, cant interfere with the genius of free-market capitalism!) and
where can/do governments fit into this and...

but, as they say, ymmv, and you are entitled to yr opinion...
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #42 of 150: Andrew Brown (andrewb) Tue 4 Jul 00 11:10
I was at cfp 95, and was astonished by the technolibertarian presence
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #43 of 150: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 4 Jul 00 11:22

Hi, Paulina. I'm trying to think why I agree with your historic take on
it, but strongly enjoy CFP and feel the 2000 was not an anomaly.

My sense of CFP is that the tradition of a braided conversation, with
intentional counterpoint, is the best feature.  I do think there are a lot
of regulars (or intermitent regulars like ourselves) who have come to
internalize the most interesting arguments of our hypothetical foes. 
But talk to newcomers who are not aware of the political threads over the
years, and you still see people abuzz with interesting philosophical 
contradictions. I don't think it is a monoculture.

Certainly there is a group of regular microphone jumpers we probably know
and possibly like very much who take a consistant libertrian stab at most
panelists.  But they are only one strand in the dialog, and all of us are
changing over time. 

The Canadian influence was refreshing and eye-opening in a lot of ways at
2000.  It's a relief to see international issues discussed by
experts who are not U.S. of Americans.
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #44 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Tue 4 Jul 00 13:28
yeah i've never said cfp was a monoculture --- and the portion of the
chapter on the crypto wars, where i talk about cfp, is not meant
to be the definitive history/discussion of cfp. i was talking
about cfp in its cpunk context --- not the other way around...
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #45 of 150: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 4 Jul 00 14:43
Okay, I'm lookin' back at what you said...

"...the changing quality of the annual Computers, Freedom, and Privacy
(CFP) conference is in part attributable to the spread of cypherpunk
ideology...."  So you did say "in part," though to my mind, why bother?
There've been so many threads, mundane to weird, running through CFP.
Perhaps you're reacting to the fact that the crypto discussions can be so

I also don't think CPSR has had much of a presence in recent years, and I
notice that you mention Jim Warren as founder, working with CPSR, but Gary
Chapman's name is missing, though Gary sez he and Jim were both stirring
the CFP1 broth (Gary was director of CPSR at the time, I think).

While I'm at it, I'm not sure I get what you meant with "...cypherpunkery
can be understood as a cure for the urban dislocation and anomie first
catalogued by Emile Durkheim." How so?

Incidentally, I think you defined gonzo on p. 117 where you talked about
the early days of Rolling Stone (where gonzo had its Hunter
Thompson-inspired genesis) and its influence on Wired, where
you had (and this is the def, I'd say) "permission to write without
checking at the door all the rest of my experience, reading, and
thinking." I think that's what gonzo's about, the reporter's an
acknowledged part of the story.
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #46 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Tue 4 Jul 00 15:10
agreed that cpsr hasnt had a lot of formal presence at cfps,
tho a lot of the people who have been active in cpsr have showed up.
forgive the omission of gary chapman from the origin myth of cfp
the relationship between cpunks and cfp in tdb has been discussed
as for the gonzo thing, whatever...
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #47 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Tue 4 Jul 00 15:15
re: the durkheim quote, it's part of my general 'warrior dreams' riff i.e.
the appeal of the outlaw warrior stance, makes one feel so much more
special, connected, and annointed than just having to deal with the mundane,
what does it all mean, grind of every day life...
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #48 of 150: Owen Thomas (dither) Wed 5 Jul 00 01:03
Actually, Paulina, I'm interested in exploring the whole gonzo
notion a bit more. There are two schools of thought on this, as
far as I can see. One is the Susan Faludi/Backlash approach,
where a powerful feminist critique is argued with supposedly
"masculine" -- that is, white male power structure-oriented
-- journalistic means.

The other is the Audre Lorde maxim that one cannot dismantle
the master's house with the master's tools.

Where does "Cyberselfish"'s critical loyalties lie?
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #49 of 150: Owen Thomas (dither) Wed 5 Jul 00 01:04
(Make that "Where do" ...)
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #50 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Wed 5 Jul 00 09:29
owen, darling, i am familiar with the faludi/loudre masculinist/feminist
arguments. but that's not directly what's going on here. there's a species-
ist issue, actually [g].

i.e. i am a 1st and foremost a 2nd-rate published poet/essayist (remember, i
studied with kenneth rexroth, poetry was the 1st stuff i ever published, and
i do have that goshdurned mfa from columbia) and journalism was at best my
day job, not something i aspired to. i wrote tdb as it wanted to be written;
since i personally find essayistic/anecdotal writing much more palatable,
and since i often learn more through fiction than fact (that is, a well-done
historical novel, such as gore vidal's 'lincoln', or michael shaara's about
gettysburg, evokes the truth in a deeper way for me than a journalistic
account would. with some exceptions made for such masters as bruce
mcconnell, who wrote 'the path between the seas', the history of the
building of the panama canal...), i wrote tdb in a literary way, in the
genre of belles-lettres.

also, i felt what i had to offer in tdb were my impressions, personal
experiences, my take on things, aside from whatever my (copious) reporting
might turn up (i have three final cabinet drawers of stuff....) there wasnt
an obvious narrative thread; tdb isnt a series of profiles nor was there a
single shooting incident around which to frame tdb. after thinking long and
hard (about 6 months) about how to do the framing, i realized 'gonzo
tourguide' was the way to go. i also realized it just couldnt be possible
for me to write a book and fight my native way of writing the whole way.

one very smart interviewer i had in the canadian media asked me why tdb
partly read like an atlantic monthly article and partly like poetical hunter
thompson. and i replied that there was tension between the two genres; i had
to have enough facts and concrete details to back up what i wanted to say,
but there was also, What I Wanted to Say. this i know has created a
confusion of genres in some reviewers' minds: they seem to expect
journalistic closely argued policy position-paper; instead they got tdb,
which is fundamentally a book-length rant, although one based on a -lot- of

that martian style of mine has been around since i have written records;
poems i wrote before i hit puberty sound like my writing style now. funny, i
got one of those blast-from-the-past emails from a guy i went out with
briefly in high-school (who it turns out went to highschool with salon's
david talbot. it's a small internet, there are only 10 people in the world
and the rest is done with mirrors, etc) because he heard me being
interviewed on an l.a. npr station --- and we got into a pleasant email chat
and he said 'you know, you havent changed a bit, you are as delightfully
caustic as you were when you were 14.' which is really eerie, because that
echoes one of the blurbs on the back of tdb...

so to sum up, there are obviously truths i think can be better evoked with
the gonzo and the suggestive than what appears in the new york times.


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