Thursday, April 10, 2008

The winds are a changin'

As some of you are aware, I did some research on the Anonymous vs. Scientology event that happened during the first part of the year.

The conclusion of the research didn't have an opinion on Anonymous or Scientology, per se, but focused more on this unique experiment of 'online to offline crossover influence'; the fact that an anonymous group of so-called 'hackers' could mobilize a physical demonstration against an organization.

We are now seeing a secondary experiment with the mobilization of demonstrators intended to protest the torch run of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In both cases, a very large proportion of the demonstrators were not personally involved with the organizations, in these cases, Scientology or Tibet. Most demonstrators have rather illogical reasons for participating ... but here they are .. in large numbers.


Is Scientology the most pressing 'religious' issue that the world is facing? Is Tibet the most important 'political' issue? Of course not - they are mere distractions and are, at most, emotionally charged. Perhaps that's the key - emotionally charged or better yet, mass irrationality.

Sound like a Freudian conspiracy?

I have also been watching the RSA conference closely as well. In addition to the usual suspects - botnets, infrastructure security and greynet activities, there is an unusual amount of 'channel' security in discussion. Channel security? Read: monitoring your online activity.

A few quotes from US homeland security chief Michael Chertoff:

'We take threats to the cyber world as seriously as we take threats to the material world. Please send some of your brightest and best to do service in the government. It is the best thing you can do for your country' ... and then he talked about the federal government’s new cyber security 'Manhattan Project', an ambitious and expensive initiative to, in part, monitor the complex computer networks of all federally funded agencies.

Federally funded agencies? Do a search on this - you'll find university programs, NGO programs, corporate programs and ALL government websites.

And in the spirit of 'Minority Reportitis', my favorite quote, 'The best way to deal with an attack is before it happens rather than after it has occurred'.

Speaks for itself.

At the same time, we have the Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell stating in an interview that the Intelligence Community, 'must have access to Google [and presumably all other search engine’s] search histories, private emails, and file transfers in order to identify cyberterrorists – and terrorists.'

You can draw your own conclusions but it seems that these virtually initiated demonstrations are starting to get the attention of the darkhats.

Conspiracy theory?

Probably - but remember, 80% of all propaganda is 'disinformation'.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Reading and Writing

I'm split into two zones - Sometimes I'm zoned into writing and other times I'm zoned into reading. Lately, I've had a reading phase - and I mean LOTS of reading. I always read Gerry - simple but straight to the point. He's the one that really turned me on to looking at the Web as a Comms tool. Here's his last newsletter brief - it makes sense [you can sign up to Gerry's newsletter here]


The Web offers one of the most significant opportunities to
communicators in modern history, but requires a total
redefinition of what communications is.

Traditional communications is one-way, passive and past-tense.
It is all about telling people what you have done, what you are
doing, or what you are about to do. There is a core belief among
certain traditional communicators that people need to be

Traditional communications is not all that different from
traditional journalism. There is a saying in traditional
journalism: "The reader is not as stupid as you think they are.
They're more stupid."

There might have been some truth in such a view forty years ago,
but we are now in a different age. It is not the digital age. It
is not the information age. It is the informed age. The very
success of the Web is based on a questioning society. We are a
society that searches because we want to find out.

The Web is where we go to know, to be informed. Those societies
that want to control what people know, who fear independent
thought and action, will always fear the Web. Those societies
who think it is exclusively the job of the elite to inform the
masses will always fear the Web.

But the people love the Web. They love the Web because they can
find out for themselves, from people like them. They love the
Web because the Web is many messages, and the Web gives people
the chance to compare, rate, question, talk back, and-most

The essence of the Web is action. We go to the Web because we
have a task; there is something we need to do; there is a
problem we need to solve. What helps us do? What helps us act?
Written words. The oxygen of the Web is written words. There is
no life on the Web without written words.

Written words are the tools of the communicator. But these
written words have a very different function on the Web. I
analyze a lot of government websites. Unfortunately, too many
overflow with vanity, pomposity and waffle. Some of them are
little more than campaign websites full of puff pictures of
preening peacock politicians.

Many web teams still struggle to convince their PR and
communications colleagues that on the Web you communicate by
doing. A friend of mine was worried about his wife, who had just
given birth. She was not well and he believed that the doctor
has misdiagnosed her.

He went to the Web, and on his journey to find out, ended up on
some government websites, where he was faced with puff PR about
how much the government was investing, and what the Minister for
Health had for breakfast. He didn't want to know how much was
being invested. He wanted help; he wanted to read content that
could help him find out what exactly was wrong with his wife.

He found answers, and he was right-she had been misdiagnosed.
This is the power and potential of the Web, and this is the
challenge and opportunity for the communicator. Show by doing.
Inform with active verbs. Make your words work for your