When the first cyberpunk writers picked up their pens in the eighties and wrote about conflict acted out over computer networks, it seemed like a lifetime away. In recent years we’ve seen internet attacks on Estonia and on power infrastructure. Countless griefers, hackers and virus-creators have found a way to virtually attack others.
Now it seems there’s something akin to a war on in one corner of the internet. A number of individuals calling themselves ‘Anonymous’ have posted a series of videos on Youtube decrying the Church/Cult of Scientology and what they call its manipulation of its followers. In related moves, a number of high profile Scientology websites were attacked by hackers and taken down. The Anonymous group seems to be using many of the techniques used by Alternate Reality Games like World Without Oil or Perplex City to create a campaign against elements of the real world.
It’s very reminiscent of the blending between virtuality and reality seen in Charles Stross’ Halting State. You can find Anonymous’s original message to Scientology video here and their reply to the media interest here on Warren Ellis’ blog. A new video was released yesterday explaining some more of the group’s message, in particular making it clear they are not just a group of hackers. It also warns of protests against Scientology on the 10th February. Whoever is doing it and for what reason, it’s a fascinating example of just how different our world(s) are now compared to even a few years ago.
[via Elizabeth Bear, image via Wikipedia’s page on William Gibson’s Spook Country]
Science teacher Greg Craven posted a video entitled ‘The Scariest Video you’ll ever see’ on Youtube in June 2007. The ten minute video garnered over 7000 replies including many criticisms from global warming sceptics. Craven decided to rebut these criticisms. He spent four months of his spare time researching data on the debate, ticking off each criticism that had been made. He then released “How It All Ends”, another ten minute video but this time with an ‘expansion pack’ of videos going into each of his arguments in exhaustive detail.
Interestingly, much of the content of the six-hour, 44 part series is not devoted to proving whether global warming is happening or not, or whether man is causing it or not. He looks instead at the four main outcomes: global warming exists and we do something, it exists and we don’t do something, it doesn’t exist and we do nothing or it doesn’t exist and we do something. He concluded the costs of doing nothing far outweigh the cost of doing something, so it makes sense to take action even if we don’t know whether global warming is happening or not.
A site has also started up devoted to the videos, where the forum members critique and find responses to each new criticism as it comes through on Youtube. The efforts of these people to encourage reasoned debate is heartening. Many of the arguments against combating climate change revolve around the fact that science doesn’t agree 100% with the precise outcome. Well, science never will agree, not totally, especially with oil industry-paid advocates in the mix. But even without more and more evidence leaning towards the ‘we need to do something camp’, the logical thing to do is to take action, even if it turns out we didn’t need to. There’s also a great interview with Kim Stanley Robinson at BLDGBLOG about this.