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<nettime> Peace Netter -- Guardian interview with Chomsky
Rachel Greene on Fri, 18 Oct 2002 19:53:01 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Peace Netter -- Guardian interview with Chomsky


Working IT out 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Peace netter 

Noam Chomsky is a political writer and professor of linguistics at MIT

Interviewed by Hamish Mackintosh
Thursday October 17, 2002
The Guardian 

When did you encounter the internet? 

In the early days of the military Arpanet, my daughter was studying in
Nicaragua. Because the US was essentially at war with them, contact was
difficult. I managed to use MIT's Arpanet connection and she found one, so
we could communicate thanks to the Pentagon!

Has the net become more marketplace than information resource? 

There are massive efforts on the part of the internet's corporate owners
to try to direct it to become a technique of marginalisation and control.
Media analyst Norman Solomon did a study of references to the net. Pre-95
it was mostly referred to as an "information superhighway": post-95 it was
"free shopping". The effort is to direct people towards commerce or
diversions such as pornography.

However, the global justice movements - referred to as
"anti-globalisation" movements - have used the internet very effectively
to get around the fact that their views are not permitted in the major
media. Things such as the World Social Forum are primarily organised
through the net.

Are you involved with MIT's OCW project? 

OpenCourseWare offers people who can't attend elite universities the
chance to study the curriculum online for free. As a research tool, the
internet is invaluable.

What are the pros and cons of the information age? 

We should be modest about it. The major advances in speed of communication
and ability to interact took place more than a century ago. The shift from
sailing ships to telegraph was far more radical than that from telephone
to email! The internet could be a very positive step towards education,
organisation and participation in a meaningful society. But if you look at
the latest figures for internet use, things such as pornography and
e-shopping overwhelm everything else.

Will the virus soon be mightier than the sword? 

That is a serious problem, as is spamming. There are concentrated efforts
to try to shut down critical voices, particularly with the
Israel/Palestine issue. Everyone who is critical of Israeli policy is
deluged by crazed messages intended to flood their email system or, more
insidiously, passwords are accessed and messages sent out under their
name! I'm sure it's illegal. It's also an effort to undermine free speech.

Do you encrypt? 

I stay transparent. When I was organising resistance against the
government I was open - that's the best protection. Somebody will be able
to overcome any encryption technique you use! Our only weapons are truth,
honesty and openness.

Favourite websites? 

I rarely have the time. I sometimes visit ZNet and FAIR.


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