Oct 182010

We are all interconnected and there’s no way out, except perhaps by moving to a crocodile swamp somewhere in the outback, but they also probably have WiMAX and Starbucks there by now, so there you go, you’re lost in being found everywhere.  Can’t hide.  New ways and new tools just make us more accessible and more efficient with actions easier to take, regardless whether they are positive or negative.  Because of that we should be more cautious and more responsible, but humans are humans and shtuff happens.  What I find interesting is that whenever something really bad occurs that may have involved some activity on Facebook, Google, MySpace.com (or in the “good old days” AOL.com or just email), the torches are lit, the rakes are out and the witch hunt begins.  The media starts with negative publicity like it all was caused by the tool, the utility, or the web site that that was used.  Guess what, I got news for you.  Just like you can’t blame the kitchen knives or their manufacturers because some people choose to use them as a murder weapon instead of making delicious meals, you can’t blame these sites or tools because some criminals used them to commit crime.  (Just for the record, I’m staying away from discussing the rifles, machine guns, tanks and howitzers that mostly everybody can buy and don’t know who can control in this country).  Don’t blame technology – blame the bad guy!

I’m a bit tired of “the end is near” individuals and self-proclaimed prophets who try to put negative context on mostly everything new.  Yes, some of the new things are sometimes used for bad causes, but if you like to use the “good old times” term frequently, please remember that until relatively recently, the average human life expectancy was way below 40, most of the world lived in poverty and malnutrition, child labor was used everywhere, women couldn’t vote, racism was the predominant ideology, health insurance was unknown, people had to work 16 hour days, so the good old times were not that good.  Just old.  We have moved forward and progress shows everywhere, from New York to Khartoum.  Quit blaming technology for human flaws.  The good thing is that most of the bad guys are stupid enough to leave virtual fingerprints everywhere while the good guys are not moving to the dark side.  If just 10% of the good technology professionals I’ve had the honor to work with took off the white and put the black hacking hat, this world could become a nightmare.  Fortunately, the bad guys are rare and most experts are genuine white hat fellows, so don’t blame it on technology.

October 24 Update: Yesterday there was another “Technology” problem in the news – apparently, Google has collected some broadcasted information from unencrypted WiFi networks and some of it contained some email message(s) and fragments of emails with user name and/or a password. All the paranoid technically challenged people are now afraid of Google, but let me use this comparison: If someone chooses to walk naked in public and you see them, is it really your fault? Are you really invading their privacy? Similarly, it is not Google’s fault for collecting information from all these security-challenged people who broke all the basic rules of security and sent email with passwords and user names AND did it on an unencrypted WiFi network. They should be barred from using computers, for they will eventually cause problems to their employers or family. Another case of how ignorance (even of press members) can awake rakes, torches and rampant witch hunts for those who really did nothing wrong but discovered security faults by accident. Good technology users, Google is not the master witch here. WE have to take care of our safety. After all, the collected information was there by accident, it wasn’t used for any malicious purpose, and unlike with hackers, it will be permanently destroyed. You should however, be very afraid of the hackers who, unlike Google, do wardriving in your neighborhoods ready to steal any passwords and accounts and take control of your wireless routers so they can permanently control and view your traffic. Be afraid, but not of Google. Be afraid of yourself when you don’t use protection.  That applies everywhere, even in the digital world.

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