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Warfare trial-balloons

Sunday, September 16, 2001 by Dave Winer.

The title of this piece Permalink to The title of this piece

I'm writing very quickly now, operating in high bandwidth mode. No time to edit for political correctness, or to avoid the fear that's out there. These thoughts are trial balloons, ideas that occur to me now, but things are so fluid. I think the next few pieces will be like this. And there's so much going on, there's not enough time to email very often. Please if you're interested read Scripting News, the most current stuff is there. Thanks.

Can women lead? Permalink to Can women lead?

Remember a couple of weeks ago (seems like a lifetime) when I wrote about gender balance in high tech? The piece was filled with generalizations. Men do art and war, women do civilization and infrastructure, etc.

OK, now we're going to war, or according to some (like the US president) we're already at war. Now, most of the voices we're hearing are male. That's not a big surprise. A few are preaching restraint, don't be so linear (the bad guys know we have nukes and lots of cash and planned for it) but most are on a straight line to a conventional war in Afghanistan, which to me, is the most idiotic linear thing we could possibly do.

Now emotions rule, and the TV networks know how to manipulate emotions on a massive scale, and of course they're doing it. (I don't know this first-hand, no TV here, just NPR and the Web.)

Wired says this is the first Internet war, and I think they're right. So this could be the first war where women have a voice. Imho, civilization and infrastructure need to speak up, before we flush it all down the toilet. I fear that's exactly what's happening. I'm not kidding about that.

Can women lead? Now is the time to find out.

Don't be linear Permalink to Don't be linear

This is totally a male thing. We get an answer, maybe just a preliminary one, and attach to it and never let it go. We're very modal beasts. We need to get less linear, be more dubious, think more strategically.

While we're confused and emotional, new laws are being passed, that make some pretty terrible things legal. The next thing is to make some pretty sacred things illegal.

Don't look at a general or a president as your pal or your uncle, that would be naive. They've got agendas too, and beliefs that they'd like to put into action.

Use the tools, while we have them Permalink to Use the tools, while we have them

If this is the first Internet war, let's use the tools while we still have them.

The terrorists used airplanes loaded with civillians as bombs. They can use the Internet too, or despite what others have said, it probably wouldn't be too hard to knock out the Internet. Assume that's going to happen. And the US governmment, the good guys, probably would like to shut down the Internet too. Perhaps just for a while. Heh.

Use the communication tools while we still have them.

What really happened? Permalink to What really happened?

5000 people are dead.

Part of NY's financial district is in ruins.

The airline industry is in deep shit.

The Pentagon took a direct hit, but it's still functioning.

What else?

It won't work again Permalink to It won't work again

I don't remember where I heard or read this, but I believe it.

They won't use the same trick again. Next time they try to use a knife to take control of an airliner, the passengers will do what they did on the Pittsburgh flight. The bad guys will factor that into their plans. The next time they strike it will be in a completely different way. Whatever it is, it'll probably happen at the worst possible time.

However we don't know for a fact that they didn't have the bombs they said they had. Or do we?

Why are we getting support now? Permalink to Why are we getting support now?

Why the outpouring of love for the USA now?

That's not normal. Will it last?

Let's say we nuke Afghanistan.

Maybe then they'll be rooting for Uncle Osama.

I don't trust the love -- I think people are scared out of their minds. If it can happen in the US, it can happen anywhere. Civilization may be getting flushed. If we retaliate in kind world opinion will swing the other way.

The American flag has become or shortly will become, the symbol for lost civilization. Especially if we don't manage the PR.

Postscript: Fredrik Lundh, a Swedish developer, compiled a list, by country, of people who are dead or missing in the WTC and Pentagon attacks. Fredrik shows us that the WTC was part of the world, not just the US.

Upgrade defenses Permalink to Upgrade defenses

Like it or not, we must take some of the responsibility for the people who died on Tuesday, for the destruction of World Trade Center, the damage to the Pentagon and the US financial system.

Our defenses didn't anticipate this kind of attack. So we must enhance our defenses to protect our cities with the same intelligence and diligence that we secure our computer networks.

Clearly defined goals Permalink to Clearly defined goals

Like all wars we're getting ready to fight the last one again. Probably the Gulf War. But, if you recall the takeaway of the military from Vietnam was they would never again fight a war without clearly defined goals. Has that changed?

It's too weird. Afghanistan was the Soviets' Vietnam. Round and round. Only this time the provocation wasn't in the Tonkin Gulf. And instead of following the French, we're following the Soviets.

I bet even Saddam Hussein will help us get this war started. I can't believe we're taking the bait. Too linear to be real.

If we get back to peace Permalink to If we get back to peace

If we manage to get the war off the front-burner, there are some things we should do right away.

The first thing to do is to solidify our friendships. Let's ask our allies what we can do better, and really listen and respond. As an economy and a culture, not just as a government and military.

Starbuck's Permalink to Starbuck's

Our culture dominates the world. Until last week, the war was totally cultural.

Globalization is what they call it at Davos. In technology we call it the Web. It's what the WTO protests were about. In the US we sniff at this, but globalization is flattening our culture too.

I like Starbucks, but I don't think it belongs in NY. Disney owns Times Square. McDonald's, Hertz, CNN, Mickey Mouse, Hollywood, Microsoft and IBM, Coke and Pepsi, etc, are all everywhere now.

What do we do about this? Listen. And learn and self-impose restraint. See the bombing as related to our domination of world culture. Much of the support the terrorists hope to gain will be about exactly that. It's really there, the resentment, anger, and it's justified. I see it in a small way when I see McDonalds in Copenhagen. To me it looks like home, but to others -- what does it look like?

A few days ago I said we should look for things we did that are wrong, and apologize for them.

Hijacking the world's culture may be the biggest thing we have to apologize for.

Disclaimer: I am a Starbuck's user. I love their product.

Important pointers Permalink to Important pointers

Pakistan has at least one weblog.

Brewster Kahle is archiving the Web of September 11.

Are you sure we can win? Permalink to Are you sure we can win?

None of the ideas I've heard about going to war are scenarios we can win.

Now in retrospect, did we win the Gulf War? Think about it. How many casualties did we suffer?

The Bushes are still in Washington, and Hussein is still in Iraq. Is this a different war or the same one?

Are we prepared to lose?

Are you sure we can win?

Dave Winer

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."