notes on P2P article

July 26, 2018

I spent too much time writing too much about the internet’s sharing dark side, which is driven by the P2P technology. Satisfied with the outcome, I read the article again and went through the comments on the site and also on Facebook. Seems like I got my points across the aisle. This author’s note is for me on what I intentionally left because I did not have enough space and time to go through them. To write more is to read more and to read more means to procure more time, a luxury that I do not posses in such high quantity.

First I omitted about Truscott’s eventful summer at Bell Labs (present-day AT&T and Verizon, to which it would be interesting to write about their break-up in some other long-form article). In summer 1979, Truscott was trained with the brand new and shiny UNIX v7 and played around with the UUCP protocol and Bourne shell. Later he returned to Duke and further experimented with UUCP protocol to connect a computer in the Duke computer science department with a research computer in Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey. This was the inception to Usenet.

Fast forward to September 1993. Recall that Usenet took off 1979. From what I read (of course I lost the link), the citizen of the Usenet did not want to popularize the existence of the Usenet, lest it would be infested with unnecessary junks. But then, internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon, TWC, and many others started picking it up and using it as plus points for their internet subscription packages. “If you chose to subscribe our X internet package, we give you free Usenet access!” or something like that. Prior to this fad by ISPs, access to Usenet only granted by universities and research institutions.

But this strategy was too clever. Then, the September That Never Ended happened.

September 1993, Usenet saw a large number of incoming freshies to the system. Having previously restricted to universities and research institutions, the previous September freshmen influx was manageable and all new citizens were schooled with proper netiquette. Due to the large influx in September 1993 (thanks AOL), the internet culture in Usenet did not have sufficient capacity to school these newcomers. Influx of new users never ended, the end of a civilization ensued. This is the September That Never Ended and brought decline to Usenet. Here is a thread on HNews, worth a read.

Later, the term Eternal September became a modern saying. “Has Facebook entered Eternal September?”, yes Peter, it freaking has entered Eternal September when your dad started sharing lame dad jokes and your neighbour started streaming himself grooming his cat’s fur, and your friend from elementary school started pirating movies on it.

The article was supposed to have a dedicated section on mental health associated with childhood sexual trauma. Yes, that specific. Regrettably, I had to remove it because at its current state, it was more than 2,500 words. I refused to turn it into a sleeping pill. Suffice to say, childhood sexual trauma, per this research, (1) seems to affect female disproportionately than male, (2) and is linked to suicide. Just because you don’t see them, does not mean these repercussions are not real.

Now let’s switch gear a bit and this will be the last section. When I first observed the responses on social media, I noticed a negative perception that the ICACCOPS (or iCOP?) program was launched by the PDRM to undermine the citizen’s privacy. In other words, this program was meant to be a dragnet surveillance, designed to filter the internet traffic of all Malaysian especially those who often watch pornographic materials.

As far as my knowledge is concerned, filtering internet is hard. If you ever tried capturing internet packet with the tcpdump and WireShark programs, you know how quick you would hit a wall. These two program generate massive amount of data and you would run out of storage. Capturing traffic data is one problem, analyzing them is another. By the way, I learned about the existence of Moloch for analyzing captured traffic data.

Note that captured traffic data generates a very low signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio. That being said, it is way easier to just block access to certain web services. Malaysia does it with DNS censorship (child’s play to overcome this) while in China they have the Great Firewall of China that utilizes deep packet inspection (DPI), a harder shell to crack. By the way, here is a great project: Open Observatory of Network Interference. Give it a once-over.

I guess that’s all. Thanks for reading!