McKenzie Wark on Tue, 6 Jun 2000 22:22:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Love Buggery

College hopes to ride its love bug
[from the Sydney Morning Herald]

The computer college where the "I Love You" virus may have been
spawned is trying to decipher whether the outbreak is a
public-relations catastrophe, or the breakthrough it needs to get
itself listed on Manila's stock exchange. 

Flipping through a stack of the latest international news magazines
is a tired Manuel Abad, the vice-president of AMA Computer
College. "Man, that's such a bad shot of the school," he says,
pointing to a picture in Newsweek. "It's not even the school, it's
all the cigarette vendors outside, with our sign on the wall." 

Initially, Mr Abad thought that police tracing the virus to a couple
of senior students was bad news - so much so that for a week he has
been making the rounds of late-night TV talk shows to pump up
the school as a hothouse of computer skills. 

"If this thing [the fastest-moving virus to hit the Internet] came out
of AMA, then I can't be proud of it," says Mr Abad. But he does take
satisfaction from the school's growth from 13 students in 1979 to
150,000 today.

Like waves of merchant seamen, nurses and domestic helpers
before them, Filipino computer technicians are making their mark
on the world. AMA's training partners include Microsoft, Cisco
Systems and Lucent Technologies. The school will soon sign up

All these companies recruit directly from the school, and about a
third of its graduates get programming jobs in the US or Europe.

In the world's press, though, AMA is better known as "hacker

Philippines investigators have talked to a number of AMA
students as they try to uncover how the virus infected millions of
computers worldwide and even sent the e-mail systems of the
Pentagon and the British Parliament crashing. 

Before a crush of television cameras, 23-year-old Onel de Guzman
said he may have released the program by accident. Another
suspect, classmate Michael Buen, denies any involvement,
although police say an earlier virus he allegedly wrote bears a
distinct resemblance to the "Love Bug".

Mr Buen has now been offered a number of programming jobs, his
family says. 

That positive reaction seems to be shared by many Filipinos. In a
telephone survey by a TV show, 7,000 callers said Filipinos should
be proud of the virus, 6,000 said they should be ashamed. Even
President Joseph Estrada thinks the virus should be used to
promote Filipinos' computer skills, according to his trade secretary. 

Mr Abad and his team are now trying to compile their own survey
to see if the publicity really is all that bad. "It's an interesting case
study," says Juanito Ramos, the school's business development
manager. It also could have a bearing on the success of the public
offering, planned for some time in the next couple of years.

"We believe AMA should go public, and we believe people will
want to invest," says Mr Abad. 

Dow Jones

"We no longer have roots, we have aerials."
 -- McKenzie Wark 

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