Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I Can Has Islamic Jihadism?

Tom assays the current chit-chat on online Islamic extremism, and comes across notice of a "website design contest open to anyone in the world with an Internet connection" where the grand prize was "the opportunity to launch a rocket attack against American forces in Iraq with just the click of the mouse from the winner's computer." His take:

"It's inhuman and morally outrageous, yes. But man, that's a pretty good idea for an online contest. If you could just tone down the evil you might really have something there."
Ehhh. For my part, this just demonstrates how badly mired contemporary jihadism is in outdated, Web 1.0 paradigms. This contest reminds me of a site from back in the 90s that purported to allow web-users to make a donation to feed the homeless or clothe the mentally ill jusy by coming to the website, and pressing a button that "triggered" a donation.

Like many of the things people got forwarded back then, like ASCII renderings of tweety-bird and dire warnings of how Congress was going to defund the National Endowment for the Arts based upon a bill that had gone down to defeat five years prior, this online donation mechanism was pure and simple bullshit. In the first place, you weren't actually donating your own money, and anyway, you'd have to be a ridiculous fool to believe that some organization out there was sitting on some pile of money, but would not donate it until some dude from Sheboygan pressed a button on some webpage. I guess we were to believe that there was someone in an office somewhere who registered each button-press and said, "Oh ho! I guess we have to contribute a dollar, now! I sure hope they don't come back in five minutes and press the button again--oh, my stars and garters! That's exactly what they are doing!"

Clearly, whatever pile of money there was was destined for the cause anyway, making the whole "interface" aspect of it just an empty exercise in web-branding. Any terrorist web-design contest is undoubtedly the same way. Surely they would not belay an attack simply because no one entered their stupid contest.

At any rate, if there did exist an actual web-based terrorbomb launching mechanism, I'm pretty sure that the good people at Unfogged would simply build some sort of bot to put a stop to it.


Tom said...

It's true, that rocket would be fired anyway. But that's always a problem when trying to convince people to take a small, marginal action in support of a goal. The best you can do is obscure the drop-in-the-bucket-ness of the individual's action by providing a means for participants to feel like they've had a direct effect on the world.

By way of example, your congressman probably won't change his vote on a bill just because you send him an email. He might if he gets a thousand emails, though -- and that point can be underscored if MoveOn (or whoever) promises to deliver one stupid, thematically relevant plastic trinket of some sort to his office for every email sent.

Kind of lame, I know, but it's a legitimately tough problem.

The Deceiver said...

My congressman might be swayed on a vote after receiving several thousand emails, yes. But if the vote in question occurred FIVE YEARS AGO, the thousand emails are likely to only incense him.

Coeus said...

Would you prefer a web 2.0 paradigm? User generated content. What American force have you killed today? Take web 2.0 memes and call it Infdl. Of course you will need the obligatory flickr and google maps plugin. Maybe even have a last.fm link so everyone can listen to that song you rocked out to while launching RPGs.