The War and the Web

by Kevin Bedell

Though America is not yet at war, there is a good chance that war will come. How has the Internet and the World Wide Web changed the way nations go to war?


First, it has allowed a much broader access to information so that people can find many sources for news. It has made the world smaller and allowed us to know what others are thinking and saying about the war. For example, this morning I can read news of the war from the BBC in the UK, from Canada, from New Zealand, from the Czech Republic, or from Pakistan.


In addition to reviewing news from around the world, I can also read information directly from the US Administration. For example, here is a transcript of remarks on the war recently made by the President in St. Louis. This allows them to take their case directly to the people. It also provides the people an opportunity to determine exactly what the President's case for war is. By reading the transcripts of the President's remarks, people can make up their own mind.


And if people agree or disagree with the President, letting him (or their representatives) know about it is simple as well. In addition to its other activities, Common Cause provides one way for any citizen to easily compose and send e-mail or faxes to their Representatives and Senators. This short feedback loop allows members of Congress to learn firsthand the feelings of the voters.


And as it always has, the Internet provides a great opportunity for 'communities' to spring up. For example, the Move On oganization in a relatively short time has gathered over 700,000 members that are banding together in protest against the war. Using only the Internet they raised over $400,000 to air TV ads around the country. In a single day of fund raising, they also raised enough money to run a pro-peace TV commercial during the Superbowl. Imagine any non-profit attempting to raise that kind of money from small donations in a single day before the Internet existed. It just wasn't possible. Another example is International ANSWER. They were able to organize mass demonstrations in Washington, DC and San Francisco using the Internet. They literally organized bus trips to the demonstrations from over 100 US cities using the Internet.


In many ways, this is a history making moment. But given the dynamic nature of the Internet, how much of this 'content' will be retained? Years from now, will these stories be available and part of the record of history? Who will capture the news stories, the presidential remarks, the organizing e-mails, the editorials and (yes) even the Weblogs that make up this dynamic story?


We have an opportunity to have history write itself. If we capture and save the news stories, remarks and organizing e-mails, then later generations will have the best account ever created for what actually happened in the run up to a war. (And if there is no war, then the Internet will have played a big role in preventing it.)


Who will save the Internet content that is part of this historic moment for posterity?


12 Comments

mentata
2003-01-28 11:43:14
the beauty of the Common Cause
I love the Common Cause web site. Some of it reminds me of something I saw once :), but I'm glad to see somebody put the time into thoroughly addressing the need for networked oversight of government.
kbedell
2003-01-28 12:12:49
the beauty of the Common Cause
You should read the book that started it all - "Common Cause" by John Garder (pub 1972). I remember reading this book some years ago.


It's out of print now, but still available cheap through Amazon:


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/offering/list/-/0393063380/all/ref=dp_bb_a/002-3487093-6483216


"Everybody's organized but the people." -
John Gardner


anonymous2
2003-01-28 13:15:32
Google
Google will capture this information as it happens, and then charge us for our own history in a few years I have no doubt.
anonymous2
2003-01-29 00:01:49
Transcript can be sanitized message, not necessarily what was said
> By reading the transcripts of the President's
> remarks, people can make up their own mind.


note that there are many documented instances where the official transcript is a cleaned up version of what was said, not what was actually said. also there are case where the official transcript has changed over time to reflect changing political goals. the goal is not to inform or engage in dialog, but to influence and control. people will say and do anything to preserve their vested interests. there are no ethics, truth or dialog in modern politics.

kbedell
2003-01-29 02:50:07
Transcript can be sanitized message, not necessarily what was said
All the more reason to try to save documents from across the entire web for posterity. This would allow going back and cross checking multiple accounts of what happened.


We can't let the 'official version' of events be the final word. We need to save the reports of multiple reporters so that we can be sure we know what really happened.

anonymous2
2003-01-29 06:14:45
The War/Antiwar protests
I strongly support our President in his fight for freedom. I saw a gentleman on the TV a couple of days ago, Milo something or other, and I was appalled by the way he and his anti aggrigates put down our country.


If you do not like the way things are here in the U.S., then go to IRAQ and live. As an old "60's" logo said, "Love it or Leave it!"


Did 911 not teach us anything? I can't understand why people do not see that if evil is not stopped it will eat up everything in it's path. If you do not meet evil head on and show you are not afraid, show that GOD is your General and nothing will make you back down, then you will meet your doom.


No one wants war, but it's like the bully on the playground. If you don't stand up to him, he will continue to beat on you.


Go get 'em President Bush!!!!

kbedell
2003-01-29 06:54:02
The War/Antiwar protests
I hope no one gets the impression I am taking a stand either for or against military action in this essay.


I did my best to simply discuss the role that the Internet is playing and how things are different now because of it. In addition, I believe that it is important that we take steps to ensure that content that is now spread across the Internet is somehow archived for future historians to have access to.


If discussion occurs here as a result of this essay, I hope it can focus on the role of the Internet and Information Technology and how it is impacting society's response to the conflict.


Kevin

kbedell
2003-01-29 06:58:56
Google
I would see this as a service that would be well worth the price. Allowing people 100 years from now to search through all the content on the Internet as it appears today would be extremely valuable.
mentata
2003-01-30 04:16:52
this one is for the archives
I don't think the internet news is what you want to save for posterity. In my experience, the more information you amass from modern mass media, the less able you will be to distinguish fact from fabrication.


On the other hand, the web is much bigger than mass media. Some of the greatest insight I got into the rise of the Third Reich came from a collection of unsolicited love letters sent to Hitler from German wives and mothers. With personal web sites, fringe news groups, and weblogs galore, we now get a fairly thorough cross-sectional view of the American psyche (minus the underprivileged, of course).


So save this posting, even though it was radically off topic. When our grandchildren one day ask "How did this happen? What led to the resurgence of bigotry and imperialism in America?" you can point them to something stark and concrete.


As for the content of the message, "General GOD" gave me very different marching orders. Where conflict in the Middle East is concerned, be wary of Matthew 24:28.

anonymous2
2003-01-30 15:00:05
Massive child death toll forecast in war
And bush claims he's a 'friend' of he Iraqi people. Well, friends don't kill thousands of their friends children.


The study says 10's or 100's of thousands of children will die in the event of war.


And guess what - Bush knew this all the time he was saying he was a friend of the Iraqi People.


check the story here


and here


and here

anonymous2
2003-04-10 16:58:48
The War/Antiwar protests
Some people think this war is for the good of mankind and others think this war is for the younger Bush to get the man who tried to hurt is daddy and still others think this war is plain stupid. I happen to believe all three. Yes, Saddam is a bad man and evil at its worst, but are the innocent victims a good comfort for us to get someone that no one has seen for awhile and has at best ten look-a-likes. We don't even have his DNA or his sons DNA to prove that it is them that we kill or capture. I believe that the younger Bush is trying to prove to his daddy that he can get someone that has threatened the elder in the past and to do it without the help of brother Jeb like he did in the election. The war is stupid and I will scream is someone says to think of 9/11. Saddam didn't send these idiots to kill us it was Osama Bin Laden. why aren't we going after this idiot and his people. We have lost focus on what really happened that day and bringing a new level of warfare to it. And the sixties had another slogan: Make Love, Not War. Why can't we go by this instead of an eye for and eye....... and Im not anomymous... Erin R-Y.
anonymous2
2003-04-10 17:01:19
The War/Antiwar protests
Some people think this war is for the good of mankind and others think this war is for the younger Bush to get the man who tried to hurt is daddy and still others think this war is plain stupid. I happen to believe all three. Yes, Saddam is a bad man and evil at its worst, but are the innocent victims a good comfort for us to get someone that no one has seen for awhile and has at best ten look-a-likes. We don't even have his DNA or his sons DNA to prove that it is them that we kill or capture. I believe that the younger Bush is trying to prove to his daddy that he can get someone that has threatened the elder in the past and to do it without the help of brother Jeb like he did in the election. The war is stupid and I will scream is someone says to think of 9/11. Saddam didn't send these idiots to kill us it was Osama Bin Laden. why aren't we going after this idiot and his people. We have lost focus on what really happened that day and bringing a new level of warfare to it. And the sixties had another slogan: Make Love, Not War. Why can't we go by this instead of an eye for and eye....... and Im not anomymous... Erin R-Y.