Time's infamous "cyberporn" scare story author looks back 20 years later


Wait, are you talking about Time or BoingBoing?


Praise the Lord!


Sure why not. Hey @CliffStoll what do you think about the book after all these years?


That article is priceless! Every single point he makes is 100% opposite of what actually ended up happening. I would love to hear what he says now.


thin crust? om nom nom nom nom.


This is SO funny, because it turns out there WASN’T lots of porn on the Internet, and nowadays, it is very rare to find kids are exposed to it via the World Wide Web! Hi-LAR-ious how they overreacted.


Did you ever try downloading some of Uranus?

Your loss! :smiley:


[Psst: there’s already some discussion in the comments – you have to left-click the “Discuss this post in our forums” to make them appear. Said comment is even cited in the book’s Wikipedia page, oddly enough.]


aha and @CliffStoll already replied in 2010 on BB with this

Of my many mistakes, flubs, and howlers, few have been as public as my 1995 howler.

Wrong? Yep.

At the time, I was trying to speak against the tide of futuristic commentary on how The Internet Will Solve Our Problems.

Gives me pause. Most of my screwups have had limited publicity: Forgetting my lines in my 4th grade play. Misidentifying a Gilbert and Sullivan song while suddenly drafted to fill in as announcer on a classical radio station. Wasting a week hunting for planets interior to Mercury’s orbit using an infrared system with a noise level so high that it couldn’t possibly detect ’em. Heck – trying to dry my sneakers in a microwave oven (a quarter century later, there’s still a smudge on the kitchen ceiling)

And, as I’ve laughed at others’ foibles, I think back to some of my own cringeworthy contributions.

Now, whenever I think I know what’s happening, I temper my thoughts: Might be wrong, Cliff…

Warm cheers to all,
-Cliff Stoll on a rainy Friday afternoon in Oakland


Talk about being a good sport. I saw the followups too, my were they gentle.


Pornography is for those kids who can’t appreciate true eroticism


Well, it could have been there, but it would have taken too long to confirm it…


And a year later, in the UK, The Observer [Sunday version of The Guardian] had this on their front page:

Clive Feather is a director of Demon Internet which for £14
provides paedophiles with access to thousands of photographs
of children being sexually abused

…because Demon carried a full newsgroup feed.


I really appreciate his honest and sincere acknowledgment of just how wrong he got things because, in the context of the time, he seemed like a good balance to some wild predictions about things the internet would do that haven’t, so far at least, come to pass.

Specifically I remember a major library director giving a talk in 1998 about how the internet would mean the end of all physical libraries, a change he predicted would happen within ten years. And he said the virtual libraries that would replace them would be so much cheaper because there would be no need to buy whole books or maintain subscriptions. Libraries could just buy a sentence here or a picture there because he believed that’s all most researchers really need.

A few years later he would suggest scrapping the library catalog because, in spite of evidence to the contrary, he believed everybody was getting all the information they needed from Google. And they would have been forced to had he been allowed to go ahead with his plan.


The real Question is why has such crap not put Time Magazine out of business yet. http://time.com/247/millennials-the-me-me-me-generation/





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