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The Nym Doth Protest Too Much...
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At 6:45 PM -0800 on 1/2/00, Marc Briceno emetted:
> Jesus Christ, Bob, we all know you like to tout your own horn, but
> there has to be a limit even to your ego. Are you planning to claim
> credit for the invention of the Internet next?
I'm sorry you saw it that way, Marc.
Perhaps, however, you're, um, projecting, a little, here?
Or, at the very least, the nym (such as it is, speaking of the cobbler's
children) doth protest too much.
In complete point of fact, Marc, and if you bother to actually read what
got you embarked on this little pissing match, I made no personal claims
for myself, whatsoever, about anything I was discussing.
Before I was rudely interrupted, Marc, I will note again, calmly, what an
interesting nexus that Paul Guthrie's current problems, Crowds/Janus,
ZKS, Mssrs. Goldberg and Shostack, and FC97 make.
And, to repeat, Marc, I do think FC97 is, in fact, where things heated up
in the commercial evolution of those ideas. In particular, FC97 is where
I think that a big chunk of the impetus to develop Freedom, the
commercial product, came from. FC97 is where, in a peer-reviewed forum,
published in an archival volume by a respected scientific publisher --
and for the first time -- there occured a discussion of financial, as
opposed to military/political, applications of cryptography on the
internet. (Irony bit := 1 here, because of the military/political origins
of at least one of those papers. A fairly obvious swords-into-plowshares
move -- a move which, I might add, I heartily applauded at the time. Get
those military spooks off of welfare and into the real economy and all.
In fact, Marc, I think such a thing couldn't have happened anywhere else,
especially at that time, because, it was at FC97 where such peer-reviewed
discussions were exclusively focused on cryptographic applications in
finance and economics, instead of politics, for the first time. FC97 is
the first conference where Crowds, and internet anonymity in general,
were studied exclusively as commercial, economic, technologies,
technologies with direct financial consequences, for the first time, and
not just as a thumb in the eye of the nation-state.
To give some background to folks who don't think about the world that
way, RSA's conferences are about promoting RSA's products to the
engineering community. The Crypto conferences and IACR were set up to
concentrate, frankly, on the classic problems in political cryptography
- -- cryptography by and against governments.
So, when I chartered the Financial Cryptography conference, I wanted it
to focus on financial, economic, cryptography, and economic consequences
of that technology, and nothing else. That's exactly why FC97 was the
First International Conference on Financial Cryptography, Marc. *First*
International Conference, Marc, and, most important, *Financial*
So, I might be wrong on the facts of the genesis of ZKS, Marc, but the
above is what I'll continue to think until it's proven otherwise, and
pointing to prior art and the cypherpunks archives, while indicative of
the intellectual and political ferment, just doesn't cut it as an
assertion of direct, and especially economic, causality like the one I
To put a finer point on it, Marc, I'd expect that Mssrs. Hill, Goldberg,
and Shostack would note themselves -- have probably already noted -- how
much of an impact Crowds and other web-anonymizing technologies, as
published in the proceedings of the First International Conference on
Financial Cryptography had on their decision to start, or to work for,
ZKS. Furthermore, I expect that they have already said, here on these
lists, and on their website, whether any of them had any thoughts of
taking those technologies to a commercial application prior to that
technology's initial publication in the proceedings of FC97.
I think there's reasonable evidence for that hypothesis in the
proceedings themselves, of course, and, for that matter, in ZKS's own
white papers and discussions of those ideas on these very lists, or I
wouldn't have made such an assertion. Frankly, it's almost a motherhood,
and I really didn't expect much controversy on the point, until you
raised it by way of an attack on me personally.
Ironically, Marc, you can't even accuse me of ascribing personal credit
to myself even for the idea of FC97 as a contributory event. :-).
You don't have to take my own word for it at all. I'm certainly not the
first person who's noticed the fact that the workshop leader and an
instructor from the FC97 Workshop are helping to put together a company
which implements a technology discussed for the first time in the
literature at the FC97 Conference proceedings themselves, and the
assertion of that simple fact is not, in and of itself, a big deal,
Which, finally, Marc, brings me to your insults about me, personally.
You're damn right I'm proud of what the International Conference on
Financial Cryptography. It was, if you remember, my conference name, my
choice of personnel, location, and format, my idea, something I,
personally, thought up and got to happen. It's something which wouldn't
exist, especially in its current form, if I hadn't done it that way. If
you're at all unclear about this, you might want to ask those who
directly participated in events, since you weren't actually there
yourself when I hammered this out with Vince Cate and Ray Hirschfeld.
Furthermore, yes, you're right, Marc, I'm quite proud of what FCXX has
become now, no doubt in some part to your own efforts as a current member
of the board and Vice President of the International Financial
Cryptography Association. An organization which was, again, my
association name, my idea, my proposed structure; something I,
personally, founded and which wouldn't exist if I hadn't had the idea.
Again, you might want to ask those who directly participated in my
decision to start IFCA, since you weren't there yet, either, Marc.
As someone who will never be a scientist, Marc, and as someone who
actually did it to make money (and to spend some time out of the Boston
snow in February), :-), I do feel that starting the Financial
Cryptography Conference was a very good thing to do, so I'm very glad I
did it. It is, of course, not the last thing I'll do on the net or
otherwise, and, if I'm careful, it won't be the best thing I do either,
but it is something to be proud of, and I am quite proud to have gotten
FCXX, and IFCA, started.
And yes, Marc, prior to your denounciations of my driving an unlicensed
ego :-), a somewhat small part of my intention in making that post was,
and still is, in fact, to get people to think, just a little, about FC00,
coming up in the last week of February. See <http://fc00.ai>, while we're
More important, Marc, I was, however slightly, trying to get folks out
there to imagine what ideas, and most important to me at least, what new
businesses, might come out of this year's Financial Cryptography
conference as well. That people should actually go to Anguilla this year
themselves to see financial cryptography history -- and, by immediate,
direct, extension, witness internet commerce history itself -- being
And, no Marc, as I noted above, my intent was not to blow my own horn.
Not that I don't mind the attention, mind you, and not that I haven't
done so in the past, of course, not at all. :-). Though it's not as bad
as it was when I was hustling ideas for a living, one of the most
dangerous places in the world is still the space between me and a member
of the press.
Finally, and in that very spirit, Marc, I would have appreciated it much
better if you -- as someone who is, ostensibly at least, on the same team
as I am, more to the point, someone who's actually getting his way paid
there just like I am -- would have stood inside the tent, pissing out,
especially on this particular occasion.
Of course, Marc, it might be too much to hope for to keep you from
thumping your own chest just a little on your own contributions to the
promotion of financial cryptography and digital commerce, as you're
probably one of the few people in this community whose ego is at least as
big as mine is, and whose efforts are, like mine, mostly business and
promotional, and not really technological, much less scientific, in
As valuable as your own efforts are, Marc, I don't think that customer
support on the first operating bearer certificate mint, or putting up or
consulting on websites promoting conferences like FC99/00 or those
promoting the cryptographic exploits of others (cypherpunks.to, or the
SCDA, and so on), or, even, attempting to organize the buyout of the
central patents of internet bearer transaction settlement counts as
actual scientific or technical achievement, and I think you'd agree with
me on that.
Maybe what I said in the last message cut too close to home, or that
you're heavily sensitized to this stuff since you're in the same facet of
the business that I'm in. I do know that lots of other internet promotion
types get under my own skin as well, hence my line about your nym
protesting too much, above.
However, I'm learning to get over it, myself, if you've noticed. I expect
you will, too, upon further reflection of your own. Like I've said only
half in jest recently, mammon concentrates the mind quite well on what's
essential and what, like internet flammage, isn't. I expect that, beyond
mammon itself, when you're involved in something which monopolizes your
time, concentration, and personal reputation, in such a flagrantly
proprietary fashion as this underwriting thing is starting to do to me,
you'll figure all that out as well.
However, in my own personal defense, and to indulge in just a smidge of
sarcasm here, Marc, you're right: I certainly have no more to do with the
promotion of internet commerce, or financial cryptography, or conferences
thereon, or, now that you mention it, the promotion of internet bearer
settlement, than, say, you do. Right? ;-).
So, yes, Marc, yours *is* longer than mine. But, these days, only
marginally so, and, I expect that if you keep whipping it out like this,
especially to piss on the shoes of your ostensible friends, someone's
likely to come along an cut it, rhetorically, off.
I expect that an apology from you about this is out of the question,
Marc, because you never admit you're wrong about anything, but at least I
don't have to endure your personal vituperation without giving it the
refutation, and, frankly, contempt, it properly deserves, and so I've
done that here.
My apologies to anyone who thinks that defense a little energetic, but I
don't really get to do this kind of thing so much anymore, and, frankly,
it was fun to take Mr. Briceno here down off his high horse.
Good night everyone, and Happy New Year.
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R. A. Hettinga <mailto: [email protected]>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'