Reading Response #2

Instead of making me thinking about the future, Ronfeldt and Arquilla’s article on networks and netwar made me think about the past. I like history enough to have minored in world history as an undergrad (I blame my father for this because he took the family to all sorts of historical places on vacations). What would have happened if network technologies had existed in the past?

Take Al Capone for example. This man ran the Chicago underworld and everyone knew it, it was just a matter of the police could gather enough proof to arrest him. He was the top of a pyramid of lieutenants, enforcers and minions. There was a clear chain of command. What if the Chicago underworld had known about Ronfeldt and Arquilla’s netwar organization? Then there would have been no figurehead, no central organization, nothing to bust.

Instead of a crime boss with a chain of command, Capone would have been a leader because he was the best at organizing people and evading police. The organization would not have been aimed at waging war with the police, instead it would have used the loose organizational structure to evade police and disrupt the lives of law abiding citizens. An an arrest been made, the criminal would not necessarily known of anyone else in the organization because the isn’t traditional chain of command to follow.

Ronfeldt and Arquilla point out that internet access is not essential. They point out that, especially in crimininal organizations, human messengers and couriers are essential. Internet access just provides another channel of communication. Feasibly, the Chicago underworld could have used this system to rise to success instead of being lead by Capone.

But we have the Internet and that changes things. Now every group, both good and bad, can have a global reach with a little bit of effort. This is happening in a time when America has lost popularity with the rest of the world. How will initiatives like the $100 laptop project, which aims to give computing power and net access to everyone in the world however poor, use Ronfeldt and Arquilla’s organizational structure? Will we see more good or bad groups?



  1. exploringinteractivecommunication said,

    September 10, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    “But we have the Internet and that changes things. Now every group, both good and bad, can have a global reach with a little bit of effort.” I know we have the internet. But, that does me it could be used for evil. This article also points out how crime can be done on the internet.

  2. delvyncale said,

    September 11, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    In my Friday night aesthetics class, the professor spoke about a friend of his who made an application for computers. It was a sticky note that one could leave a note for another, say on a website about something the two were studying. I told him I thought this would be used for more bad than good. First, it could start out with bullying in the schools…which as we’ve seen leads to Columbine & VA Tech incidents…then terrorists could easily use it as well! On top of that, the professor’s friend’s site (who created the ‘sticky note application’) was black and red! I remember from the news all the sites on how to build homemade explosives and such, the sites were red & black!

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