Paco Nathan

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Paco Nathan (born 1962) is an American computer scientist and early engineer of the World Wide Web. Nathan is also an author and performance art show producer who established much of his career in Austin, Texas.

Early life[edit]

Paco Nathan was brought up in San Luis Obispo, California. He studied mathematics and computer science at Stanford University, specializing in user interface design and artificial intelligence, with Douglas Lenat as graduate advisor.[citation needed]

He received a teaching fellowship during 1984–1986, under the direction of Stuart Reges, to create a course called CS1E, as a peer-teaching introduction to using the Internet, informally called "PCs for Poets". It has since grown to become the popular Residential Computing program on campus.[1]


Nathan collaborated with Robby Garner and the Italian researcher Luigi Caputo, President of Alma Research Centre, on one of the first web chatterbots, named Barry DeFacto, in 1995.[2]

The three have worked together on several related projects, including the JFRED open source project for developing Java-based chat bots. They used JFRED in BBC Television's "Tomorrow's World MegaLab Experiment" and attained a 17% Turing percentage during what was the largest online Turing test at the time.[3]

He was a co-founder (with Jon Lebkowsky) and president of FringeWare, Inc., and the editor of FringeWare Review. FringeWare, founded in 1992, was one of the early commercial sites on the Internet.[4] It experimented with mixing subcultural analysis and ecommerce, hence the name "fringe" plus "ware".[5] Through work at FringeWare in support of small press publishers and fringe subcultures, Nathan also helped produce a series of performance art shows during 1997–1999, including events for Robert Anton Wilson,[6][7] Survival Research Laboratories,[8][9] Church of the Subgenius, RTMark, and Negativland. FringeWare was later used as a pattern for part of the organization of the Viridian design movement.[citation needed]

Nathan has written for several other publications including O'Reilly Net,[10] Wired, Whole Earth Review, Mondo 2000, and was a contributing editor for Boing Boing during the early 1990s.[citation needed]

His first article for Mondo 2000 about the IBVA brainwave interface system was credited as inspiration for the song Hi-Tech Hippies by Yellow Magic Orchestra.[11][12][13]

Other popular writings have included a parody (nEurorAncid) of the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer,[14] and court-room reporting on behalf of a newly launched Wired during the federal trial of Steve Jackson Games v. US Secret Service.[15][16]

More recent work has focused on applying aspects of systems theory for computer network applications. Nathan led an engineering team at Symbiot to develop software for monitoring and visualizing risk metrics of complex network security systems.[17][18][19][20] That work received an Apple Design Award in 2004, was cited as a source for the United Nations UNCTAD Information Economy Report in 2005,[21] and spun off as an open source project called OpenSIMS. During his period at Symbiot, Nathan helped pioneer a controversial "hands on" college program in network security at Austin Community College, for which he received a NISOD Award for Teaching Excellence in 2003.[22]

Some of the technology at Symbiot emerged from an earlier project created by Nathan, called The Ceteri Institute, which used complex systems modeling to analyze aspects of multinational corporations. That effort followed from several years of writing, speaking, and political organizing on behalf of anti-corporate activism.[23][24][25][26] During the period of 1999–2002, he summarized that material in a series of papers and lectures about "corporate metabolism".[27][28][29][30]

As of 2007, Nathan works as the technical director for HeadCase Humanufacturing, combining previous experience in chat bots and ecommerce.[31]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "History of Residential Computing". Stanford University. Archived from the original on 2010-11-28.
  2. ^ L. Caputo, R. Garner, P. Nathan. "FRED, Milton and Barry: the evolution of intelligent agents for the Web", Advances in intelligent systems,
  3. ^ Highfield, Roger (1998-03-21). "Megalab 98: Thousands are taken in by robotic patter". Telegraph UK. Archived from the original on 2007-02-21.
  4. ^ Casey, Scot (2007). "FringeWare Chronology". Laughing Bone. Archived from the original on 2009-09-04.
  5. ^ Reid, Robert H. (1997). Architects of the Web: 1000 Days That Built the Futures of Business. Wiley. p. 175. ISBN 9780471171874.
  6. ^ Stang, Ivan (1998-12-06). "'BOB' and POPE BOB (aka Robert Anton Wilson) IN AUSTIN".
  7. ^ Nathan, P. (1998-11-13). "Robert Anton Wilson / Conspiracy Tour of Texas 1998".
  8. ^ Stang, Ivan (1998-03-28). "RIOT AT SRL SHOW!!".
  9. ^ Nathan, P. (1998-03-31). "SRL show follow-up".
  10. ^ Nathan, P. (2004-09-03). "What Countermeasures Really Means". O'Reilly Net.
  11. ^ "The IBVA Core System". Archived from the original on 2006-10-16. Retrieved 2006-12-27.
  12. ^ Nathan, P. (1992). "Be-It-Yourself Tech: IBVA". Mondo 2000. No. 7. pp. 24–26.
  13. ^ YMO. "Hi-Tech Hippies", Technodon, track 5 (see liner notes), 1993.
  14. ^ "nEurorAncid". FringeWare Review. No. 7. 1995.
  15. ^ Nathan, P. (1993-05-01). "Jackson Wins, Feds Lose". Wired. Vol. 1, no. 2.
  16. ^ Nathan, P. (1993-05-01). "Secret Service on Trial". 2600: The Hacker Quarterly. Vol. 10, no. 1. p. 18.
  17. ^ Nathan, P. (2003-12-19). "A Trajectory for the Evolution of SIMS Architecture" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-11-18. Retrieved 2006-12-27.
  18. ^ Nathan, P.; Erwin, M. (2004-03-04). "On the Rules of Engagement for Information Warfare" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-11-18. Retrieved 2006-12-27.
  19. ^ Nathan, P.; Hurley, W. (2004-11-28). "Non-Equilibrium Risk Models in Enterprise Network Security" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-11-18. Retrieved 2006-12-27.
  20. ^ "'Evolving Systems' papers". TTI Vanguard conference. 2005-07-12.
  21. ^ UNCTAD Information Economy Report, Chapter 5 (PDF). United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. 2005. p. 204.
  22. ^ "NISOD Award for Teaching Excellence 2003". Austin Community College bulletin. 2003-05-30. Archived from the original on 2006-09-17. Retrieved 2006-12-26.
  23. ^ "Motorola, Inc. and Citizens Advocating the Protection of Privacy and Paco Nathan, Cases 16-CA-14661-1 and 16-CA-14661-2" (PDF). National Labor Relations Board. 1991-11-12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-05-16. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  24. ^ "NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Petitioner, v. MOTOROLA, INC., Respondent, No. 92-4317". US Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. 1993-05-26.
  25. ^ Malloy, Judy (1998-11-17). "'BAG DAY' WILL PROTEST BARNES & NOBLE ON NOVEMBER 23". Arts Wire. Archived from the original on 2005-02-21. Retrieved 2006-12-28.
  26. ^ RTMark (1998-11-10). "Nationwide Protest Against Barnes & Noble".
  27. ^ Nathan, P. (2000-10-22). "Corporate Metabolism". Tripzine. No. 6. (excerpted from Parallax View conference)
  28. ^ Nathan, P. (2001-03-18). "Chasing Egregors". The Scarlet Letter. Vol. 6, no. 1. Scarlet Woman Lodge. Archived from the original on 2018-12-03. Retrieved 2006-12-27.
  29. ^ Nathan, P. (2001-08-01). "The Corporate Body: Liber 118 U.S. 394". Signum. No. 11. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2006-12-27.
  30. ^ Nathan, P. (2001-09-17). "Tracking top firms, WTC analysis". Results of that work were forwarded by author Bruce Sterling as a post-9/11 analysis.
  31. ^ Nathan, P. "AWS Start-Up Tour 2007 / HeadCase". Retrieved 2022-10-06.

External links[edit]