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whose watchin Cypherpunks: nym question
- To: [email protected]
- Subject: whose watchin Cypherpunks: nym question
- From: [email protected] (Anonymous)
- Date: Mon, 6 Nov 1995 01:47:31 +0100
- Organization: RePLaY aND CoMPaNY UnLimited
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Stephen Whitaker-nym's resubmission ("whose watchin the watchers"
4:19 PM 11/5/95) of the very same material that I had posted last night
suggest some questions about some aspects of nym theory. I hope the
following isn't too naive, and I apologize if it is.
When I saw issue 183 of GovAccess, Jim Warren-nym's remarks seemed
suspect, but I didn't have a thorough enough understanding of the issues
to judge them myself -- so I decided to vet the question with the
Cypherpunks. I'm glad I did: the quick and knowledgeable responses
clarified the error, and I forwarded them to Warren-nym so that he could
correct himself promptly. The end result, as Warren rightly suggests I
think, is that a better understanding of the issues has been propagated to
his subscriber base.
AFAIK, Warren-nym has an excellent reputation -- and that fact
certainly encouraged me to provide him with the info he would need to
correct himself quickly. OTOH, my actions garner no reputation for me --
neither for my True Name nor for [email protected] Of course, whether
such actions merit any reputational shift is debatable: I contributed no
knowledge of my own, just merely acted as a go-between. Still, the fact
that GovAccess 184 quotes my response might suggest that I beat others to
the punch; and were I able to act in such a capacity on a regular and
consistent basis, and were I to do so in a field with higher stakes, I
would surely garner a reputation. Granted, this is a lot of "woulda,
coulda" -- but it leads me to conclude that it is not the shortcomings of
my *action* that are the cause of the fact that I garner no reputational
improvement in this instance.
Stephen Whitaker-nym's resubmission of this material, OTOH, lowers
his reputation in my eyes -- which is strange, because the only real
distinction between what he did and what I did has to do with the fact
that he sent mail to Cypherpunks without reading the Cypherpunks traffic.
So his reputational shift is purely contextual.
So why don't I, then? Well, for starters, the nym that the Replay
remailer assigned to me is publicly accessible: anyone who uses this
remailer in the way that I did will be assigned the same quasi-nym,
[email protected] yet if, through some statistical improbability, I were
the *only* person *ever* to use this remailer in this way, and I *only*
ever used it to perform actions that would improve the reputation of a
stable nym, then the public knowledge of Replay's functionality would
neverthless serve to hinder any reputational shift that my actions had
earned: people might say, "Every message I know of that has passed through
Replay has been accurate, timely, and significant" -- but that would
improve the reputation of the Replay remailer rather than of its sole
user, myself, even though it was my actions -- *including* the use of the
Replay remailer -- that brought about this reputational shift.
So what is a nym if not a "True Name"? I distinguish "True Name" (in
quotes) from True Name: a True Name is tied to a matrix of information
extrinsic to the entity it refers to (a SS# has no *intrinsic* relation to
the entity it designates), whereas a "True Name", though free of this info
matrix, neverthless operates according to the same logic that a True Name
does -- in terms of being tied to actions that garner reputational shifts.
The point being -- I'm probably being pretty unclear -- that if the major
distinction between a "True Name" and a True Name are links (or the lack
thereof) to arbitary and external information (and maybe the disposability
that the lack of links implies), then a lot of nym theory seems like it
pretty much reproduces True Name logic and operations.
Anyway, a lot of you understand this all better than I do, so I hope
to learn from any responses I receive.