I was very young when the state apparatuses began to notice the evolution of those kids who started messing around with electronics and building things. And they looked at them with suspicion, distrust and extreme prejudice.
It was 1984, or perhaps 1985. I had received a SEGA SC3000 "computer" as a gift for the third year. It was my first computer. To be clear, it was this:
There was a cassette with a video game and one from "Basic III". This, for the small shitty village, was enough to end up on the list of honeycombs. And to end up being at home in a videogames / stereo / electronics shop in the neighboring country, whose warehouse served as the "headquarters of the club of honeycombers". We were seven, six boys and one girl, a tremendously lackluster girl of Yugoslav origin. (Danika, if you read me don't get angry.)
One day while we are snuggling with a tape recorder (which at the time were also used for programs) two carabinieri knock on the door. The carabinieri of the town. Obviously we feared that they would notice our traffic of copied audio tapes, but that was not what they were looking for.
Their speech was: "boys, we know you are good boys, we know everyone and also your families. But there are dangerous people around who are looking for scramblers and pay you a lot to make one. Here, if they ask you, you must notify us immediately. We are shooting everyone we know, but if you know others who can do a scrambler you must notify us immediately. "
Obviously none of us had a fucking idea what a scrambler was . The maximum we had built, based on iron chloride, markers, bakelite and tinplate, was a distortion for electric guitar, which also worked in class A, not even AB.
We shot every municipal library (eh, there was no internet) looking for what the hell a scrambler was . The sister of one of us could access the university library, and one of us could finally find the right book and photocopy some pages. It was a disappointment. It was little more than a fucking non-adjustable mixer that applied different phases to different frequencies. In practice it masked (partially) the voice.
In hindsight I can imagine a series of forensic issues for which a scrambler could complicate the life of the police, but the thing I understand today is that they had the files of every computer-loving boy in every fucking small village of ~ 5000 inhabitants.
How the fuck did they hate us? How paranoid were they? How hostile were they?
When the first BBS arrived, the answer was clear: a lot, but a lot. They kept the TUT (urban time-based tariff) and the long-distance one at alarming regimes, until the development of the Internet itself was slowed down. They took it off only when Telecom bought Video On Line and devoted itself to the Internet. Before, we had this ball on our feet.
How did they close the BBS? Well, simple. Some sapiens cops capable of computers would make an account and put a copyrighted file there. (there were still no digital photographs as we know them today). Then finance came and confiscated everything, including the mouse, because you never know what data is in the mouse .
These events continued for a long time, until the Fidonet Crackdown, the apotheosis of human stupidity applied to computer science, arrived. These were quibbling excuses with which the state tried to control something it didn't understand. Suddenly he found himself weak : thousands of young people were doing something, which only the most capable among the men of the state (about fifteen in all) understood well. The rest, generally GDF, at most understood AS390, or other IBM junk made for accounting. Some (many) Olivetti. But nothing more. And we were thousands.
We did a BBS rally in the Margherita gardens, and they sent us the same pseudotoxic infiltrated cops who "peddled" in Piazza Verdi to try to cheat us. They didn't know where to start. But they knew one thing: that if they put banned files on the computer, they had the excuse to seize everything . And the average octogenarian judge wouldn't even understand what they were talking about.
In the end then we had the big telcos that threw themselves on the internet, while the BBS were raided with the excuse of "hosting illegal files". The only ones excluded were those of the BBS linked to the world of neo-fascists, who apparently had the green light of the police. After all, they were the first users of neo-fascist BBS to join the police and constitute their "IT competence".
But it was a hate that arose from much earlier. The average carabiniere, graduated with 36.51, who through a competition that today we would find ridiculous (and a recommendation) could not understand a modem. And he saw us as nerds, first in class, bespectacled. It was an ancient, ancestral hatred. They were looking forward.
Many years have passed since then, and history repeats itself.
And here they are defining yet another "illegal content". While Facebook is the realm of trolls, Japanese society is such a monstrosity as to induce hundreds of thousands of people to shut themselves up at home, to cause thousands of suicides from too much work, the government makes it clear that if someone commits suicide it is to blame of online content, but not Facebook which is too big. A BBS (which are still very popular in Japan)
And it doesn't just happen in Japan. The old excuse of "illegal content" also returns to Italy
Because they are still those. They are still them, the failed, the scarce, those without passions. Those who see born again, made out of passion, the thing they hate most.
The poor people in uniform are returning to office. Still with the same excuse.
But why does it work? It works because project managers persist in not really decentralizing. An instance like mstdn.jp didn't even have to exist. Thousands had to exist with one, two, three users. Because only in this way can the admin know what is being posted, and can trust his own instance.
The problem with ALL these BBS was always the same: the admin feared to find himself under investigation for something that someone else had posted, normally the infiltrator on duty. Problem that ends when there are few subscribers, when you know them well, and when you know what goes around your knot.
The truth is that it has not yet been understood what decentralization is for. Obsessed with thousands of users, it is not clear that instead of spending a lot of money to buy a powerful server and a powerful line, it is possible to use the internet at home, with a raspberry Pi, to set up a SMALL user and to serve five or six friends. .
It is possible to build and sell PleromaBOX (maybe even make some money) as long as you provide a configuration wizard that connects to a relay and / or a DDNS. And distributing the network so much that an action such as closing a large instance takes on political significance.
This is why the universe is distributed. If in our time there had been a Raspi 4 at 50 thousand lire, with the cabbage we would have built the BBS with hundreds of users. We would have spun equivalent knots everywhere, with QWK for the exchange and a batch for making phone calls at night.
This is the point. Obsessed with the number of users (the big social networks have conditioned you pretty well, huh?) They still make themselves too big servers . When a pod of the universe has 5.6 users who know each other openly, that's enough.
I see associations asking for money to keep a large server at reasonable uptime. Stupid. Old-fashioned. Obsolete.
They could build a small box with Pleroma, give it to all their users, with a limit of 3.4 members and a DDNS. In this way they would distribute the expense and uptime. At the very least they should keep on a relay.
They are returning. They are those of before. They are those of the government.
If you build instances from thousands of users, it will be easy for them to send an infiltrator and create an excuse to shut you down. And in one fell swoop, having destroyed a huge gathering place. But it takes little to build one of these:
attach it to your home DSL, configure it and paf. You have your knot. Put five, six users and install many. So for them, the amount of work it takes to stop 9000 people changes. Costs change.
Servers with thousands of people are slated to fall.
It's up to us to understand the lessons of the past. (who was there, of course).