[LINK] Discussing terrorism on Link
Wed, 12 Sep 2001 09:39:51 +1000
Given our previous discussion about the acceptability or otherwise of
discussing the Tampa situation on Link I am surprised no one has weighed in
on this in relation to the World Trade Centre & Pentagon attacks. (Or
perhaps they have - messages from Link often arrive here out of sync and
somewhat delayed). Anyway here's my opinion.
Since I started working for myself at home rather than in an office I have
resubscribed to Link - I couldn't cope with the traffic when I was in an
office managing other staff. It is now a significant part of my
work-related information network and in some ways takes the place of the
office tea-room conversations. I am therefore pretty tolerant of
interesting discussion that stray off-topic. Although Link has a specific
purpose and agenda, after surviving for so many years it also becomes a
"virtual" (but no less real) community with a whole cast of interesting
characters, conventional wisdoms, repetitive conversations and other human
foibles, as well as a remarkably relevant source of on-topic information.
I value the discussion on Link of many topics which range from clearly
on-topic through some grey areas to some clearly off-topic threads. I
would rather do this in the Link community where I have some background on
the personalitities and positions people are coming from rather than
looking for some general discussion of political events to join. I know
the players and can efficiently choose not to read messages based on either
the author or the subject. Any link contributors are an exceptionally
interesting and well informed group.
I can get general discussion and analysis of current affairs from the
newspapers. What I get from Link discussion is a perspective on current
affairs that focus on socio-technical implications and angles, in the
current crisis for example:
* What are the strengths and vulnerabilities of a relatively open, wired,
democratic society in dealing with terrorism based on a totally different
* What are the new threats to democracy, privacy and personal safety posed
by an increasingly technologically dependent and interconnected society.
* Practical technological issues raised by current events, eg how can
someone possibly highjack an airliner and pilot it into a building? Could
anything realistically be done to prevent such acts?
* The threats to democracy and privacy arising from the response of
governments to terrorist activities.
On the other hand I can see the perspective of people who want what Link
has to offer as part of their work but cannot afford the time to wade
through extraneous messages - the "delete message" button is *not* the
At a practical level I would suggest that if possible, someone with the
resources offer to set-up a "Link-off-topic" list for those from the Link
community who want to discuss broader issues. This does not have to hosted
at ANU and it could even be on a free service such as yahoo, but, without
dobbing people in, I know there are regular Link contributors who have the
facility to host such a list with more control over archiving and management.
I would also welcome any information on other email-based Australian lists
which might be a better mechanism for disussing socio-technical aspects of
current affairs which have a quality of debate and content as good as Link
(if they exist).
Jack Gilding mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Backroad Connections Pty Ltd http://www.backroad.com.au
RSD 1344 Korweinguboora VIC 3461 phone: 03 5348 6651
Australia fax: 03 5348 6671
ABN: 64 090 245 382