The Scatterweb

I was in Fuchi’s systems on other business today and found this briefing on the scatterweb in the Documents folder of a deniable assets director. I figured you folks would get a good laugh out of it.


In 1985, a subversive named Richard Stallman founded the free software movement, an effort to destroy the world’s budding software industry by giving software away for free, allowing anyone to tinker with the design and release their own versions. This cancer upon the market metastasized into a more general open-source movement that extended the principle into every market where replicating designs is an important part of production. This strain of Communism is alive and well in 2052, and while it is not in a position to threaten our livelihoods, it is worth paying attention.

I could write a book about the number of things that are wrong with this introductory paragraph. Many people already have. tl;dr: open source can thrive just fine in capitalism, creating public goods, and this communist drek is just propaganda.

The Keynesian Kid

Before the Shiawase Decision, open-source licenses were legally enforceable and companies making use of open source software could be sued in court if they failed to comply with the terms of the license. Since the establishment of corporate extraterritoriality, these licenses are no longer enforceable, and megacorporations can make use of open-source innovation freely.

After operatives working for Mitsuhama Corporate Technologies wiped out the server and backups for a major repository of open source software, aiming to destabilize the community and frighten them into hiding, the community retaliated by creating code they call the scatterweb, which is a decentralized data storage repository that keeps redundant copies of information on servers around the planet. The amount of storage a given entity is allowed on the scatterweb is a function of the amount of storage they provide to everyone else on the scatterweb; so is the number of queries that can be answered at once.

Once something is openly published to the scatterweb, the only way to get rid of it is for people to stop caring that it exists; if the publisher creates a retraction annotation, they can disavow their creation, but it won’t go away until it’s so disused that very few people access it any more. If your problem is that an embarrassing leak has been published there, please do not waste corporate resources attempting to do something about it. If you need access to scatterweb information, we already maintain a scatterweb repository that has sufficient privileges to retrieve anything at torrent speeds; simply log a request for access.

It’s also possible to get sites to decide not to carry a particular chunk of information. Most scatterweb site owners don’t care to waste space on revenge porn, for instance, and there’s a well-curated kill list for it.


The best way to keep your secrets off the scatterweb is to maintain good security; the second best way is to cultivate a reputation for taking grisly revenge on people who post your secrets there.

Anarchist propaganda underground newspapers like Newsleak, Consumer Reports, and Mother Jones publish on the scatterweb. Their self-professed investigative journalists will spare no expense to create verisimilitude for their calumny. While the end results of their work are always slanted to make megacorporations look bad, their articles often let slip details of their methodology, and those can be used to create disinformation traps that can discredit them, or even reveal their identities well enough to target the reporters.

The scatterweb can execute code as well as store data. Most of the code executed uses homomorphic encryption, which means that even if we monitor the programs as they run on our servers, we can glean very little from them that we couldn’t have gotten through simple traffic analysis.

The megacorps are big contributors to the scatterweb because they don’t dare ignore what gets released on it, and donating resources to it is the only way to get the kind of bandwidth they need for doing research. Plus, they can rip off open source libraries whenever they want.


Why don’t all the BTL addicts get their fixes from the scatterweb?


Simsense files are huge compared to the stuff on the scatterweb. Posting that much data means you have to offer a lot of storage space, and retrieving that much in any reasonable amount of time requires offering a lot as well. So there isn’t much of the stuff on there in the first place, and what is there isn’t very popular because no one wants to watch a progress bar take hours to crawl when they need a fix.


The scatterweb is, in its way, the inverse of the Nexus. The Denver Nexus has a trove of secrets that will be released if they are attacked. The scatterweb is simply where secrecy goes to die.

The open source community retaliated against their loss of legal clout against extraterritorial companies by introducing the Public Privateering License, where they publish stolen software to the scatterweb and credit the corporate creators.

Said credit takes the form of Haven gift cred. The idea behind the PPL is that it may eventually grow so large that a megacorp might decide to stop violating open source licenses and start playing by the rules.

The Chromed Accountant

Similarly, the Journal of Liberated Research is a scatterweb publication that shares publications and raw data from internal research papers retrieved by deckers and other deniable assets. The Journal is frequently used as a pawn when the megacorporations run operations to spoil each other’s trade secrets.

And piss off (meta)human rights activists when they read about the research methodology.


Be careful running operations against this community. They may be disorganized rabble, but even scum like this can become serious trouble if you make a martyr out of one of them. In 2043, the Saeder-Krupp Director of Security Operations had cortex bombs implanted in the families of two important developers on a crucial Matrix protocol library and instructed them to add loopholes crafted by his own team. Five months later, his children were abducted from their boarding school and he was terminated due to the inherent security risk.

Holy frag! How do a bunch of SINless code grinders put together an op like that?


They don’t. Shadowrunning deckers who lost friends to those security holes do. A lot of favors got called in on that one, even getting a circle of mages to hit the metaplanes to invent a new spell that suppresses combustion in the explosive used in that model of cortex bomb. Though it’s amazing how easy it is to get ice-cold hermetic mages to help out when you say this is to remove a cortex bomb from a six-year-old.

Terminated, in this instance, is a euphemism for publicly fired and died in a mugging that evening. Lofwyr doesn’t like letting people go when they know too much about S-K internal operations.


I know we’re all ruthless shadowrunners here... but targeting kids? Even though he started it...

The Chromed Accountant

They went from props for a photo op to adopted by a loving family; plenty of the folks on that operation weren’t that ruthless either. Fragger had good genes; they all look like they’re going on to impressive careers, none of which their father would’ve approved of. Especially the Eagle shaman.


Oh, you softies. Two thirds of the time, any kid worth kidnapping has a family life so fragged up that if you buy them pizza and ice cream and teach them to shoot a gun, it’s the Best Vacation Ever.


...what is your methodology for the ⅔ figure? I’m almost afraid to ask.


I didn’t run out of fingers and toes? I guess I could say thirteen nineteenths if you want accuracy?


Since then, there are no more open source conventions held in physical space, all open source developers now use pseudonyms, large software projects now use clandestine cell systems, and there are freely downloadable games to teach children modern tradecraft while hunting, trading, breeding, and battling Pokémon for competing teams. It is now vastly more difficult to gain intelligence on the community. Think very carefully when choosing tactics to use against them.

Either every day at Fuchi is Take Your Child to Work Day, or, based on the amount of Pokémon activity going on in that septet of skyscrapers, they’re using it to keep their own operatives in practice.

Professor Hawthorn

The scatterweb is an application platform for more than games. Its nature makes it much slower than conventional social media sites like Pulse, but MemeStream has excellent support for pseudonymity and affinity clustering. The Orchard— so named because it brings projects to fruition— is an operation where bounty posters, hunters, and verifiers are brought together for anything from fixing bugs in open source code to assassination. Naturally, law enforcement and corporate security divisions regularly monitor the Orchard and warn anyone who is the target of an assassination contract. We have numerous intelligence operatives bidding on Witness jobs for the Orchard.

Which keeps them up to date on all the jobs going down where someone thought anonymity would be better than secrecy. Anyone worried about assassination is going to have contacts who can see the Trees where someone might post a job, and damn few people are going to take a job where the target is warned like that. I think at least half the wetwork jobs on the Orchard are just to make people paranoid. Hell of a lot of cred to keep in Escrow just for that...


The open source movement is unable to pose a threat to the established power of the megacorporations. Rather than worrying about eliminating its nuisances, focus on how they can be exploited. Embarrassing a competitor by releasing their code under the Public Privateering License is a superb way to keep covert activities deniable. The stealthiest Pokémon trainers of today may be the corporate scholarship recipients of tomorrow.