Definitions for backbone cabal

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Freebase

  1. Backbone cabal

    The backbone cabal was an informal organization of large-site administrators of the worldwide distributed newsgroup-based discussion system Usenet. It existed from about 1983 at least into the 2000s. The cabal was created in an effort to facilitate reliable propagation of new Usenet posts: While in the 1970s and 1980s many news servers only operated during night time to save on the cost of long distance communication, servers of the backbone cabal were available 24 hours a day. The administrators of these servers gained sufficient influence in the otherwise anarchic Usenet community to be able to push through controversial changes, for instance the Great Renaming of Usenet newsgroups during the 1980s.

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. backbone cabal

    A group of large-site administrators who pushed through the Great Renaming and reined in the chaos of Usenet during most of the 1980s. During most of its lifetime, the Cabal (as it was sometimes capitalized) steadfastly denied its own existence; it was almost obligatory for anyone privy to their secrets to respond “There is no Cabal” whenever the existence or activities of the group were speculated on in public.The result of this policy was an attractive aura of mystery. Even a decade after the cabal mailing list disbanded in late 1988 following a bitter internal catfight, many people believed (or claimed to believe) that it had not actually disbanded but only gone deeper underground with its power intact.This belief became a model for various paranoid theories about various Cabals with dark nefarious objectives beginning with taking over the Usenet or Internet. These paranoias were later satirized in ways that took on a life of their own. See Eric Conspiracy for one example. Part of the background for this kind of humor is that many hackers cultivate a fondness for conspiracy theory considered as a kind of surrealist art; see the bibliography entry om Illuminatus! for the novel that launched this trend.See NANA for the subsequent history of “the Cabal”.

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