February 22nd, 1979: Ivor Durham forwards an email to the ARPANET msggroup about making the last login time private by default in CMU's email system, starting one of the first known arguments on the internet. !/

msggroup was small and tight-knit, consisting mostly of computer scientists. It reflects the early bias of early internet architects towards implicit trust. In some of the replies, concerns include the potential for coercion for overwork and opt-in privacy by default vs openness [sorry still getting used to opt-in crossposter]

then, as now, the tradeoff seems to have been convenience vs. privacy, and the tone is exceptionally angry given the norms of email at the time.

interesting lil linguistic note, they were already using the collective "randoms" to refer to random people, something I thought was much more recent.

also notice how they right indent their signatures. the letter writing style and expectations of etiquette are very strong. reminds me of the harnad experience where flaming was still "contact the admin and try to get you banned" in 1987.

@jonny "Skywriting" as a term meaning "posting on the net"?

That´s nice, and a new one to me.

@kgerloff as far as i can tell it was only him that said this. i sorta like the pluck of his writing sometimes, even if we diverge on i think a lot of places.

@kgerloff This is also a very interesting point in internet history as far as i can tell: it was *pre* , so there wasn't a concept of durable, editable, social reference-like material at the time, as far as I know. but it was also *post* commercialization of scientific publication/institutionalization of peer review so the "letters from" or "proceedings of" mode of science had shifted to the more refereed/referencelike journal pub.

@jonny @kgerloff

People would put stuff up on Usenet for general viewing. I don't remember if they had to repost them periodically, or if there was just a slow thread you could read.

But I definitely got directed to a few of these over the years as reference material.

I think if you made a change, you'd just have to repost the whole thing.

@TerryHancock @jonny @kgerloff

FAQs and useful instructional posts generaly did get repeated every month or so (often with updates/additions inserted from previous discussion threads)

@jonny Looking at it from another angle:

Perhaps we all get so angry about seemingly trivial technical choices because deep down we realise that those choices are ultimately political - they contribute to shaping the kind of society we live in.

Defaults have consequences.

@kgerloff I think that's what's so fascinating about this - that this is one of the very first instances of public internet communication and it is *acutely* political - that's the first thing they go to, that defaults are choices about the world. maybe i'm getting my priors wrong and i should expect this since it was so early but they are much more immediately aware of the social impact of code than many people i know today.

@jonny @kgerloff
To elaborate a little more specifically: What I see is a disagreement among people, who seem to see themselves as members of a satisfactorily-functioning community IRL, trying to figure out how to translate that community into a new medium.
It's as if land creatures, suddenly equipped with gills, are trying to figure out the implications of -- and rules for -- trying to function as a community in the ocean.

The specter of "Fascism" has been raised...

This is the era from whence Godwin's Law emerges, of course.

@jonny and today every messenger provides read-receipts … we have forgotten the most important lessons of our crafts history. Or did priorities and power change?

@ArneBab @jonny Yeah WhatsApp definitely seems to try to make personal surveillance features ("last seen on…") seem like a positive thing, for example when you're worried about someone and you see they connected a few minutes ago – which doesn't give any actual clue besides that they're conscious, but anyway.
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