Middle of Nowhere: A Project with Paradoxical Goals

Time Magazine Cover 

Cyberporn Fear Storm

Now that we've seen what fear storms did for Rwanda, here's the sordid tale and eerie aftermath of how the Georgetown Law Review and Time Magazine got prominently hosed by an unscrupulous CMU undergrad, Martin Rimm.

The "data" manufactured by this student for the express purpose of instigating a fear storm (and it turnes out, for profit) has put everyone's electronic freedom in the hands of net-phobic scaremongers like Senators Grassley and Exon.

Believe it or not, they've acted out their fears. See Committee Slaps the Net, Again. here's a few things you can do about it.

For shame Philip Elmer-Dewitt, Time Magazine, Georgetown Law Review, Carnegie Mellon University, Marvin Sirbu, and particularly Martin Rimm.

Sen. Grassley Congressional Report: "Mr. President, I want to repeat that: 83.5 percent of the 900,000 imagesreviewed -- these are all on the Internet -- are pornographic, according to the Carnegie Mellon study."

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, TIME Magazine As I've said elsewhere, the cyberporn story was my idea. I pushed for it, I wrote it, and it ran pretty much the way I turned it in. It was my personal screw-up, not anybody else's.

Would-Be Internet Hearing Star; Washington Post "Up until last week, Marty Rimm was going to be the star witness at today's Judiciary Committee hearing about naughtiness on the Internet. Rimm is now off the witness list for today's hearing, and committee aides are disavowing some of the conclusions of the study -- including the much-(mis)quoted figure that 83.5 percent of what on the Internet (it's actually much more like one-half of 1 percent, by the most common measure) is pornographic."

Too Much "Sex" Spoils Vietnam Online Test A test of Vietnam Prodigy was suspended because anti-smut software was overloaded, triggered too often by repeated use of the word "sex." Because tonal marks required by the Vietnamese language are not correctly shown on the computer screen, Vietnamese users rely on Roman letters to indicate those marks, causing the letters "sex" to show up in about 85% of all messages. (Agence France-Presse 4/1/95)

Daniel Dern Humor Alert I was wandering around the 'net recently, and Gosh! I found a whole bunch of Philatelists. And then I discovered groups populated by Thespians and Homo Sapiens. And I found hundreds -- not dozens, but Hundreds -- of educational institutions funded by My Tax Dollars... teaching people to Matriculate. And not just a few, either. I found this study that said showed this was in at least 00.0005 percent of 15,000 Newsgroups at over 17,000 sites and 1.8 million computers and 40 million users, which means there are over, umm, I never wuz good at math, gosh, 93 per cent of the Internet. I'm shocked! Shocked!.


Porn O Rama by Brock Meeks Timeline of the whole disgusting tale.

Porn O'Plenty by Brock Meeks The tale keeps getting weirder and weirder. The punch line..." As for Marty? Well, he's been accepted by MIT's Technology and Policy Program, where he'll go for his masters. "

The Shoddy Article Mike Godwin picks a fight with Time, a major perpetrator of the Great Internet Sex Panic of 1995. Here's a local copy


95Oct20 Who's Using Who? Martin Rimm and the Antiporn Activists by Mike Godwin To those who have been investigating the scandal behind the fraudulent Martin Rimm/Carnegie Mellon "cyberporn study" and the Time magazine cover story that hyped it, it's long been known that there was some kind of connection between Rimm's efforts and those of antiporn activists -- particularly those on the Religious Right.

On a Screen Near You: Cyberporn by Philip Elmer-Dewitt Time Cover Story, July 3, 38-45.(1995).

Marketing Pornography on the Information Superhighway: by Martin Rimm A Survey of 917,410 Images, Descriptions, Short Stories, and Animations Downloaded 8.5 Million Times by Consumers in Over 2000 Cities in Forty Countries, Provinces,and Territories. The clueless Georgetown Law Review article that triggered Time's appetite for an "exclusive".

The Cyberporn Debate by Donna Hoffman and Thomas Novak Our objective is to provide a forum for a constructive, honest, and open critique process. We do not debate the existence of pornography in "cyberspace," though we do dispute the findings presented in the Rimm study and the Time article concerning its extent and consumption on the Internet. This web lays out the whole sordid tale, including their critique of the Cyberporn article, Rimm's response and their counter-response.

The Net community manages to stay informed about the debate, with posts as they occur Note that his advisor Marvin Sirbu doesn't put his name on the "rebuttal." I've heard that the CS department wanted to issue a statement saying it had nothing to do with it but that the department head refused, worrying it would look bad. I've also heard that one of the advisors hasn't even seen the article and hasn't been involved with the project for over 6 months. One of the "contributors" wrote a scathing critique (Sigel), and another who was acknowledged not only never saw the study but refused to make comments. I've also heard the social science faculty are upset that the EE faculty won't just stand up and say this thing is a fraud and unethical. But the CMU ADMINISTRATION is sending out press releases congratulating themselves for being on the cover of TIME and Nightline, so there you have it.

Sen. Grassley "Mr. President, I want to repeat that: 83.5 percent of the 900,000 images reviewed are pornographic, according to the Carnegie Mellon study."

JournoPorn Dissection of the Time Scandan, by HotWired.


Research Project on Internet Pornography by Paul Christiano; CMU President The committee has recommended, in accordance with the above-cited policy, that several allegations warrant the conduct of a thorough investigation, through a five-member faculty Committee of Investigation.

The Economist Online Separately, on page 16 of the magazine there's also a discussion: "Can pornography in cyberspace be regulated?" They refer to Exon's bill as "...clumsy and heavy-handed. Such a law could kill the chances of the Internet developing into a superb vehicle for free speech and open communications."

Open Letter to Time Editors by Jim Warren It was sad and frustrating to see - and vigorously participate in - the net's flames that poured over you after you honchoed the cyberporn "report." I know you, and I know you are much, much better than that illustrates.

Target: Cyberspace: Forget it--the net is doomed By James R. Petersen; The Playboy Forum; July 1995

Real-time Peer Review Hotwired: I've been on The Well for years and have seen some wonderful discussions. But I have never seen anything compared to this. In response to the Time cyberporn story, several dozen members of The Well, including professional journalists, Net experts, and sundry kibitzers, launched a round-the-clock online investigation. When they were done hardly a shred of credibility remained either for the story or the study on which it was based.

Rimm's Index Statistics on critiques of this study with links to breaking news.

SunSITE's Smut Page Yet another critique of Martin's obsession.

My Friend, Marty Rimm by Bret Pettichord

From: Donna Hoffman You will be interested to learn that some people at Carnegie have expanded the Carnegie Mellon Censorship Page to include a comprehensive set of links to internal CMU documents that provide a unique and oft-times disturbing glance into the CMU administration's evolving response to the Rimm situation. Some of the more illuminating documents linked on the page include CMU policy statements on the ethical conduct of research, letters and observations from various "Rimm-watchers," and contact information for all relevant CMU administrators.

Marty Rimm

The Pornographer's Handbook: How To Exploit Women, Dupe Men, And Make Lots Of Money; Dedication to Bob Guccioni; by Marty Rimm. It is customary for men who desire employment with one of the greatest adult entertainers of all time to barrage his office with fancy resumes, persistent telephone calls, urgent faxes, e-mail messages, and even flowers to all the beautiful secretaries. I, however, have found nothing in my belongings to offer that I esteem so much as the knowledge of the libidos of men.

Yet another Rimm Job I thought I'd post more excerpts in the interests of providing a fair review of "An American Playground," by Martin Rimm. [(c) 1990, Casino Forum, Atlantic City, NJ.]

Martin Rimm Nexis Search Nexis search for every mention of Martin Rimm going back over 15 years. Note the missing seven years or so between his deep interest in gambling and his resurgance as a porn researcher.

CMU Responses Discussion since the study came out and their entire local battle ove access to offensive information began.

Is this what all the fuss is about?

Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler Molasses slow versions of what anyone can buy at any newstand for lunch money.

Battle over Billboard BabeTabatha Holtz, the WebQueen.

Banned Books Online Special exhibit of books that have been the objects of censorship or censorship attempts.

Urban Desires An Interactive Magazine of Metropolitan Passions

Thought Police and You

High school teacher arrested on porn charges Federal postal authorities yesterday arrested an Arundel High School English teacher on child pornography charges involving the Internet, the computerized information network. A popular drama coach, Bruce Edward McDade, 47, was charged with possession of computerized pictures of minors engaging in sexual acts, according to charging documents. Acting yesterday on a search warrant obtained last week, federal authorities raided Mr. McDade's Prince George's County home and found stored in his computer pictures of "young males, clearly under the age of 12, engaging in either sexual intercourse, masturbation and other sexually explicit conduct," the documents said. Mr. McDade told investigators that he has been trading child pornography obtained through America Online, an Internet computer service, the documents said. Acting yesterday on a search warrant obtained last week, federal authorities raided Mr. McDade's Prince George's County home and found stored in his computer pictures of "young males, clearly under the age of 12, engaging in either sexual intercourse, masturbation and other sexually explicit conduct," the documents said. Mr. McDade told investigators that he has been trading child pornography obtained through America Online, an Internet computer service, the documents said.

Mike Godwin's Response to San Jose Mercury article on the CDA debacle. [[bjc: the parallels between what Washington is doing to the internet and what it once did to the indians is chilling. Two entirely different cultures, speaking different languages, holding different worldviews, and with entirely different visions of right and wrong. "Family Values" action groups on the one hand, internet values on the other. ]]

When the San Jose Mercury News libels a guy by Mike Godwin Your reporters, Howard Bryant and David Plotnikoff, have published false information about me and about my organization, and they have done so in a way that has damaged both my reputation and my credibility. As a journalist as well as a lawyer, I am astonished by the reckless disregard for basic journalistic procedure in the story, which appears in March 3rd's edition of the San Jose Mercury News.