Defining the battle lines

To the hacker, the pursuit of truth and enlightenment is the most important and truest calling. Yet in these times of complete, real-time access to global information, how is it that one finds oneself scrutinising and doubting all the sources of information that one receives? Reading only one newspaper is not enough. The knowledge filters in our minds have to be set to analyse and cross-reference a multitude of sources to be able to form a decent opinion.

The mass media has become so powerful a force that the war in Iraq is not taking place on the sandy desert of the Middle East. It never was fought in the mountains of Afghanistan and it is not being fought at ground zero either. The war is being fought in the fast food restaurants, in our homes, in our kitchens, in our living rooms and in our bedrooms.

The most difficult part of this analysing process is to take two very biased and opposed opinions and create middle ground from them. Nobody informs the public what restrictions are placed on journalists reporting from Baghdad, we are merely told the restrictions exist. Similarly, what sort of integrity can you attribute to the reporter who is embedded with a “coalition” contingent? One of the chief military strategic questions must lie in the positioning of the CNN reporters within armoured divisions.

Never before has technology allowed the world to sit so close to the front lines as now. Yet this same technology can be used extremely powerfully to control the mindset of a nation. One small example of this was a speech made by the Iraqi Information Minister. It was a powerful speech — filled with propaganda and passion, the content ranging from casualties and food losses to potential attacks on the coalition forces. An hour after the speech, in the summary made by the BBC anchor, only the part of the speech discussing attacking and killing American and British forces was rebroadcast.

In the quest for truth, associates on a local hacker mailing list have posted long lists of Web sites for each other to reference as independent news sources. The Internet is offering us the opportunity to challenge the “old-school” media sources. This is a true test for the “media-savvy” generation.

Whoever sways public opinion most will win the war. Thank goodness we now have a means to stand apart from that sway.

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