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As Long as We Remember...

April 13, 2009

About the Net

Steven R. Berryman

What the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), once contrived to connect university research scientists to each other in the course of their daily work, has now become the world’s greatest tool, toy, and liability – our Internet.


Note that the “I” is capitalized.


Generation zed, or whatever we call our youngsters now, are hooked by life online, and consider others to be Neanderthals when not fully involved with laptop or PDA. Oldsters, having never been exposed are now intimidated, confused, and disconcerted about what’s happening with the youngsters.


Me, I’m exactly in the middle, having been born on the first day of the Space Age. DARPA was founded during the same year of 1958, and I think we were both founded as a reaction to the Soviets launching the satellite Sputnik!


I don’t report to the Department of Defense like they do, but have heartily opposed communism and socialism as they do.


Today, our enemies lie just as much from within as they did from without during the days of the U.S.S.R.


Having dabbled in blogging, activism, and politics, my usage and perspective may be different than yours, but I have seen enough to appreciate the “sea change” with all of its ramifications.


It was revealed last week that Chinese computer geeks, known as “hackers,” had penetrated the United States’ “power grid,” and were potentially in a position to shut us down in the event of any hostilities. We use connected groups of computers known as “networks” to control our sophisticated electricity distribution system.


Malicious software planted by these hackers could awaken on command to take control, much to our detriment at exactly the wrong moment, if undetected and not removed.


Relate this to the movie “The Manchurian Candidate!”


The fear, of course, is the invasion of Taiwan by the Chinese Communists, the possibility of which has been enabled by our new president, Barack Obama, who just wants to be “friends” with the rest of the world.


Obviously, our interconnectedness by computers shows a major downside in this example, but wait, there’s more.


My suggestion is that our new and affable President Obama simply join Facebook, or MySpace to satisfy his placebo need for adulation!


Many things are being funneled through the Internet now, such as banking transactions, consumer invoices, payments made online, taxes paid and direct deposit refunds received, medical test results, and the soon to be electronic medical records.


The latter is an integral part of our emerging Obama Healthcare plan.


This plan, of course, is typical of other “Obama Plans” in its lack of all specificity, replaced with an enormous chunk of your money, yet to be taxed from you!


But at least we have our social networking web sites. can be used to keep personal pictures at your fingertips just in time for that reunion with out-of-state relatives. can be used from your PDA to stay in touch from the field with any hooked-up computer buddy. can allow you to organize your friends by useful group, get out the propaganda, and let other “friends” know that they are not!


But back to the actionable side of this. All of these computer/Internet functions are cool to the cyber-informed and have a real use that can fly in the face of some negative uses.


MySpace can be used to allow your children to find playmates, and to coordinate inappropriate pictures!


Twitter can be used to impress your friends that every toilet flush you encounter is worthy of permanent recordation on a computer server somewhere. Remember, nothing really ever leaves the domain of the net.


Facebook can be used to direct others to your favorite blogs or causes, or to remind your wife that you are still in touch with your old high school flame!


But these are merely pedestrian fears as compared to a worst-case scenario.


Best usage of the Internet can be in enabling large causes that are being ignored by mainstream media, such as our impending “Tax Day Tea Party” movement.


Via chains of information passed along and promoted, persuasive videos, links to information, and to organizing sights can be facilitated quickly. Add cooperation from radio and word of mouth, and you can have a phenomenon!


Embrace to new medium of the Internet-connectivity to accomplish your best thought-out desires, to the betterment of all.


However, don’t forget that everything ever entering the Internet forever stays on the Internet.


And keep your passwords random and unpredictable.


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