In support of his dissertation on the interconnected development of civilian encryption technology and digital privacy rights, Shane’s fellowship project analyzes Usenet conversations about cryptography and privacy between 1981 and 2000. Usenet was an early digital communications network, a key precursor to Web discussion forums and later online communities and social networks. In its heyday, it offered a genuinely vast sampling of public, potentially pseudonymous discussion organized neatly into hierarchies of “newsgroups” as diverse as alt.sex, rec.drugs, and alt.rock-n-roll. Over the course of his Digital Humanities Fellowship, Shane has written a set of software tools to scrape and process the raw data from select newsgroups, discover adjacent groups and key figures of influence, and map the flow of ideas and networks of interaction across domains and time.
Kingdom of Code: Cryptography and the New Privacy, 1975-1993