Words by c.z.robertson

Terrorism and Technology

2001-09-21 01:00:00 UTC

Some thoughts on the WTC attack...

In the flurry of diary entries on Advogato immediately after the attack, one person said that, after this, working on Free Software was not important. I'd like to make this a direct response to that person, but the entry quickly dropped off the recent logs page and I've forgotten who it was who said it. (And, for various reasons, I'm trying to avoid getting an account on Advogato.)

We in the UK have had terrorism with us for thirty years, so there have been bombs in London all my life. However, what happened in New York hit me much harder and seemed much closer than anything that's happened in my own city.

The first I knew of the attack was when I checked Camworld and read: "There is soot falling out of the sky outside my apartment in Brooklyn. Surreal." After that I was able to follow what was happening direct from other New York-based weblogs and from other sites on the internet that were gathering together and interpreting all the various news reports.

Watching the TV and reading the newspaper was a poor substitute for this. The empty words from our leaders and the unjustifiable air of certainty with which the news was delivered stood in stark contrast to the genuine concern and honest uncertainty of the personal websites.

Without the internet, this would have have been to me another remote tragedy in a distant country, but thanks to the technologies of the web and of email (much of which is Free Software) this was far more important. My only wish is that this technology were more widespread throughout the rest of the world. That way we might understand what we are doing to other people when we start bombing innocent Afghans.