Council on Foreign Relations
NANCY ROMAN: It’s a huge undertaking. And there is someone I would very much like to acknowledge, David Kellogg, right there, who is going to—if you’ll stand up, David. He is vice president of the Council for Corporate Affairs. He wears many hats. He also runs the business side of Foreign Affairs, which makes a lot of money, if you didn’t know that.
And David is the brains behind a lot of what we do here at the Council. And he oversaw the efforts to redesign the site, and he’s just been terrific.
So, David, thank you for coming. We’re glad to have you here.
And then finally I’d like to introduce to you Mike Moran. He is the brand-new executive editor for CFR.org, right here. He is going to walk you through the website for a few minutes before we begin our program.
He comes to us from MSNBC.com, where he worked for nine years as a senior producer of the international news.
His journalistic career is long and distinguished. Before that he worked for BBC World News. He worked for the Associated Press, St. Petersburg Times—let me see; I do need notes here—(inaudible)—News Service, Radio Free Europe, and on and on and on.
But he will be a writing editor and will be contributing significantly in terms of conduct.
Today is his very first day on the job, so if you would welcome. (Applause.)
MICHAEL MORAN: Thank you very much. For a moment there I thought I’d done the old TV journalist’s trick of losing my script so I could say whatever I wanted, but apparently, it’s sitting right here.
First of all, I’d like to welcome you all. And as we used to say at the BBC, we apologize for the visual problems you may experience. I know that it’s hard to see from the back, but if you’ll bear with us, I promise you, I’ll try to describe what’s up there.
The new site, for which I can take very little credit—in fact, none, as my first day of work here—is something that I was very excited to see nonetheless because I have been a user, so to speak, of the CFR for a long time. And I hope that you’ll agree that this site is a really dynamic improvement on the other one.
The older site disappeared on August 22nd. The first thing I think you’ll notice as you look at this site is that everything is really centered on this main news-oriented stage. We’re going to endeavor to try to bring out, in a way that was not possible on the older site, the depth of what goes on at the CFR and its—and the foreign affairs organs, all sort of nonproprietary content, kind of a mix of everything that is the best on the story of the day that we could possibly find and put it up and give you the—a real quick executive lead on what’s going on.
But basically the way this works, everyday there is a news meeting, much the way there is at any news organization, and the various possible main subjects are discussed. I’ll lead that meeting in the morning with input from everybody from Richard to David to Nancy to anybody who wants to be involved in that daily. And we will come up with a plan to get the right material together so that when someone comes in—my target is mid-day, because I want to be of use to journalists who are working on the stories that day.
By mid-day Eastern, I hope you’ll find that our site is looking smart; it’s looking as if it’s taken a global view of the subject, that it’s not pushing the proprietary content too hard, though, obviously, CFR has so much to offer, that that’s always going to be up there and that we look good too—we’re elegant and easy to deal with.
Let me walk you through this particular content right now. We have a—today United Nations reform was what we decided to go with. I think you’ll find that most of the major news organizations in the country will not be on this as their lead.
But when do you find 170-odd world leaders in the United States at one time? This is an interesting—(laughs)—accent on odd someone said. This is a very interesting time for the United Nations and an opportunity which may or may not be grasped.
What we’ve done—at the top you’ll see there is a quick lead on what’s going on. We’ve added content today—a backgrounder, a Q&A on U.N. reform—which we hope takes people through issue by issue what’s going on in the debate. There’s been a lot of change in the law two weeks on this. And it’s been something that, even reading the New York Times or the Washington Post, will leave you somewhat—with some questions about which of these issues actually still remain. Does the draft still include language? Why aren’t they telling you the definition of terrorism? Has anybody seen it?
Well, apparently, if they’re going to define terrorism, they don’t want to tell us yet because it’s obviously a very fraught subject. But what we try to do is explain the omissions as well as the things that you’ve already heard in the news.
As you move through the package, you’ll see, as well, there are reports from—on U.N. reform from USIP, analysis from the BBC, transcripts from CFR. In the resources and documents area, Kofi Annan’s own site on U.N. reform, speeches by major leaders, statements by Condoleezza Rice and others.
The idea is, again, to give you a synopsis that you can really move away from with a kind of an educated, full view and then hopefully take you deeper into the site and hopefully, you know, draw people in—not just foreign policy professionals and journalists who have to cover the U.N., but also people who are confused by the discussions of these things, who need a top-level summary of what this stuff is and then have an opportunity to drill down a bit.
So let me walk you through a little more here of the site’s content. What we’ve tried to do below is—as you’ll see over here, this is CFR.org-oriented content exclusively. And I promise you, I will not be leading the op-ed page every day, but it just so happened, I wrote an op-ed this weekend. And it was timely, and it fit.
There are interviews by Bernie Gwertzman, the founding editor of New York Times,org, and the former foreign editor of the New York Times, with newsmakers and analysts. He’s constantly updating these things. We’ve got one in our U.N. package.
The second and third stories of the day—sometimes these are stories that are regularly leading our site, which just didn’t happen to lead today. Sometimes there’s stories that are coming up, like the German elections, which we’re working on a package that will be even more robust than this one, but here’s what we have now.
You can also look at the site as a way into the much deeper content of CFR. Up on the top here, you’ll see we’ve organized the content by region and by issue. This is new—a new way of doing it from our old site, which was a much more flat kind of presentation.
Here if you look the regions are broken into subregions—let’s click on Asia—subregions, Central Asia, East Asia, et cetera. If you click on those regions, some of the larger important countries—India, China, Japan—will have their own pages. And on these pages are everything that has been published by CFR.org and its related organs over the past couple of months.
We hope that this will be an archive that will not only be a great way to find this content, but let’s face it, a lot of people are not going to come to CFR. org to cover to get to this stuff. This is the kind of stuff that people find in Google when they type in, for instance, South Korea and proliferation. They may then pull up an article from us because it’s still on the Internet, and it’s well dated; you’ll understand that it was written a few months ago.
But that’s another way that CFR gets its message out.
Down in further—well, obviously, by region and then by issue, we have that same basic approach: defense, homeland security, proliferation, a variety of topics that we have broken our content into. All of this is made possible by an automation program that will sort it according to subject. It’s a complicated thing that, frankly, I don’t understand, though I’m going to make use of it.
The other thing I wanted to point out here is, there are special pages on the site now for educators and for the media, for two particular segments of our audience that we really want to target.
I know the media site very well. This is slightly different from the old one obviously, but one of the things I really like about this site as a journalist is the world affairs calendar—world events calendar—which is the most comprehensive that I’ve seen on the Internet, and I’ve looked and looked, believe me because there is nothing worse as an editor than getting caught not knowing that next week is the New Zealand parliamentary elections, for instance.
The other thing that’s really great is the way that the experts that are in house here are sorted and presented. You can do it by publications, by names alphabetically, but also by issue. And that’s really what a journalist’s going to do when they’re going to look for an expert if they’ve been assigned to cover the talks between North Korea and the United States and they’re looking for a Korea expert, they’re going to find it by sorting it by issue. And they’re going to come up with an expert at CFR that way.
A couple of other things really quickly. If you go back to the home page, one of the things that is really nice about this site is, as opposed to the old site, there’s some technology updates that you don’t really see here. It’s been made presentable, basically, on hand-held devices. So very—Blackberries or PDAs if you use those, this is a much better interface for that.
Also, it’s capable of dealing with video and MP3 audio, which is important to use. Especially going forward these are things that we want to be involved with as they evolve.
And this is something I like a lot and may please the crowd in the back. We can make the text bigger, and for those who are really vain—there we go—you don’t have to ever wear your glasses. (Laughter.)
That, of course, affects the layout, but it’s done in a way that’s measured.
Finally, I just want to say on a personal level that I hope that this serves as a real good intro to this panel. I’ve been on a few panels that have dealt with this topic myself, and we—the panelists and I were just kicking this around a bit.
The intersection of foreign news and the Internet might not be the first thing you think of when you deal with foreign policy, but as someone who has practiced both for the last nine years, I promise you, there are plenty of examples of where policy, coverage overseas, all sorts of aspects of reaching out and hearing feedback from overseas, are being changed by the Internet.
I hope to play a role here in making sure that the debate in this country and all around the world is elevated a bit, and that we possibly reach some of those people who are just curious about a particular aspect in foreign policy, and somehow through Google or whatever search engine, they stumble on us and that I hope that makes their life better.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
DANIEL BURTON: All right, while we’re getting miked up, I will go ahead and make the preliminary announcements that the council is so well known for, with a twist tonight. First, please turn off your cell phones if you have not already.
Secondly, the twist is we’re on the record, so everything is for attribution. There are press in the room. And so you should bear that in mind in our discussion.
My third comment is we’ll end promptly at 7:30, except I was just handed a note that we can go five minutes over. So the Council is well known for its punctuality, but we may go a few minutes over tonight.
There will be a buffet reception following the meeting, and we hope that you can all stay and join us for that for an informal discussion.
Our topic tonight is: A Wired World, the Internet and International Relations. We have two very capable commentators joining us. The first is Craig Calhoun, who is present of the Social Science Research Council, a position he’s held since 1999; university professor of social sciences at NYU. And the Social Science Research Council does such work—does work on areas such as knowledge institutions and innovation, information technology, HIV/AIDS, social transformation—so very much focused on the type of issues which will occupy us this evening.
Our other commentator is Andrew McLaughlin. The first announcement I got of the program listed him as Google’s policy guru. The second announcement listed him as the senior policy counsel for Google, Inc., and the third announcement listed him as the head of global policy for Google. (Laughter.)
So by whatever name, we have Google’s global guru with us here this evening. And in addition to his position at Google, he’s the senior fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. His work has focused on law and regulation of the Internet and the telecommunications networks.
And if you look at the background of these two gentlemen, I think we cover—let’s see, the University of Beijing, Ecole des Institutes Anciene Sociale (ph), Universities of Asmar, Khartoum, Oslo, Oxford, Britain, France, China, Ghana, Mongolia, Kenya, Afghanistan and South Africa.
So I think in addition to their Internet expertise we cover a very wide swath of international affairs.
The way we’re going to structure our discussion, we’ll have a half an hour of Q&A—no prepared remarks from the speakers—and then we’ll save the final half hour to take questions directly from the audience.
And in our conversation earlier we decided to sort of take a Rashomon approach to the topic of the Internet and international relations, and I think you can look at these issues from several different perspectives, and we’ll try some of those on for size and have a commentator speak to those.
And just to run through them quickly, you could look at the Internet as a communications tool. It’s sort of just the latest phenomenon in the communications revolution.
You could look at the Internet as a massive warehouse for creating and accessing information and content.
You could look at the Internet as a new dimension of the global economy, speeding globalization, enhancing productivity in introducing new business models.
You can look at the Internet as a tool of policymakers as they formulate policy and influence opinion.
You could look at the Internet as a vehicle for decentralized decision making and self empowerment—grassroots movement.
You could look at the Internet as the embodiment of democratic capitalism.
You could look at it as an enabler of transnational community and sort of a threat to the nation state.
You could look at it as a set of laws, protocols and standards which we negotiate internationally.
And finally, you can pick your topic—North Korea, proliferation, China, Iraq, Russia—and you can attach the Internet to that and then you can have a very interesting discussion along those lines.
So let’s sort of try to work through some of these perspectives, and then we’ll let the audience really get into detail in the ones that they’re interested.
So let’s start with the most basic—communications tool. Craig, and we’ll start with you. Is the Internet just the latest phenomenon in the ongoing telecommunications revolution? We had the telegraph, telephone, radio and TV, fax, video. Now we have another high-speed transmission belt. Is there a qualitative difference in the Internet when it comes to the communications revolution or a quantitative difference?
CRAIG CALHOUN: All right, I’m going to refuse to make the Hegelian distinction in quantity and quality here. But of course the Internet is part of this sequence in this history, but the word just a little bit strong there, I think.
So the Internet’s really a cluster of different technologies; it’s not just one single technology like a telegraph or the telephone. It’s certainly a communications technology, but as your language of a warehouse sort of implied, it’s also doing a variety of other things that doesn’t necessarily follow something literally understood as sender-receiver kind of model of communications.
And it’s very largely about connectivity of a variety of kinds in the world. So the communications—the manifest communications—of the content of the Internet are linked up with a variety of other senses in which people are being grouped, organized, connected to each other in the course of their use of the Internet in various ways, it seems to me.
And many of those are not entirely conscious. So you’ve got a technology that is among other things recording its own usage patterns so that there can be a kind of secondary analysis of the ways in which it’s being used. So people who are communicating with each other and aware of communicating with each other are also creating records that can be accessed by data miners for a variety of other purposes that we wouldn’t understand themselves as communication, exactly.
Whether that’s intelligence analysis by the military or it’s data mining for purposes of firms who are looking for new clients or a variety of other sorts of purposes.
DANIEL BURTON: Andrew, Internet as a communications tool, is it qualitatively different than other revolutionary technologies we’ve seen come on—(inaudible)?
ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN: So I’m also going to reject the quality-quantity distinction, and here’s why.
So there’s been this really interesting and I think probably not historically unique transformation in the way that we thought about the Internet. So in the early days of the net, which was when I first got on, like in the late ’80s and continuing through the mid ’90s, there was a very powerful libertarian ethos that pervaded people who were using the net and the people who were thinking about it and writing about it. And there was this genuine sense, if you read—a great thing to read is John Perry Barlow’s declaration of the independence of cyberspace, which he wrote at Davos in 1996, where he said that basically you people of what he called meatspace, as opposed to cyberspace, you vestigial relicts of the industrial era, keep your hands off this medium. Your laws have no purchase here. Your mores have no influence here. We are creating a world of our own making where every man is equal to every other man; every woman is equal to every other woman; and every person is equal to every person. And it’s quite bracing to read actually and also has turned out to be sort of flamboyantly wrong.
The transformation has been sort of from this sort of notion of the Internet as a magical happy land where the old rules and the bounded geographical applications of national power and jurisdiction do not apply, to—we’ve gone from that conception, to a kind of post-crash depression, that the Internet was just another publishing medium, to where I think we’re ending up, which is a sense of the Internet genuinely does change things, right? It really does make the world a different place than it was before.
And it has to do with the speed of communications, the accessibility of communications, the ability of people to publish instantaneously.
And I think we’ll get into this through tonight’s discussion, but, I mean, it is an amazing thing that you can send somebody in with a military unit going into Iraq and post real-time updates and photographs of what’s going on the ground—what’s happening on the ground to everybody worldwide to read. That’s an astounding change.
And I think we can talk about why that is and what the implications are. But so we’re going through this magical happy land, you know, through the crash, and I think the sort of categorical question you’re raising about the Internet as a communications tool, the best way to answer what—sort of what’s different about it, is that it is a distributed packet-switched network in contrast to the old circuit-switched network.
Let me tell you what I mean, and I’ll tell you why I think that’s kind of an animating sort of heuristic for tonight’s discussion.
So in the old days of the Internet—I’m sorry, the old days, pre-Internet, communications through the telephone interestingly mirrored the kind of metaphorical articulations power, and it is—the old telephone network is kind of analogous to the nation-state in the following way. Telephones have very stupid devices at the end, right? The phone itself is a very dumb device. You just push buttons on it; that’s all you can do. It can’t do anything more than connect up with another person with one of these similar devices and you talk to each other; all you can do is push buttons. If you want to change that telephone system, it’d have to be done at the core of the network. All the intelligence, all the routing, all the switching, everything happens in the middle of the network—the phone company, right, sort of the AT&T, Ma-Bell model of—technology-wise, we do all the hard work, and you sad little consumers out on the margin, you just get your phones and you push the buttons and then we bill you.
So the Internet—and by the way, that’s what we call the channel- switch network. So it meant that when I make a phone call, and there’s somebody at the other end that picks up the line, a channel is open between the two of us through a whole bunch of switching stations, but there is this continuous channel between the two of us, and when we stop talking, it shuts down, and that’s what the telephone number does.
The Internet is what’s called a packet switched network. So the analogy to think about how the Internet works is, when you send an e-mail to somebody, it’s basically the equivalent of taking a novel and sending it to someone by postcard. So the Internet breaks all communications, whether it’s a voice call or a photograph or a web page or an e-mail with a little bit of text, it chops it up into little pieces, throws it out onto the network, and then the network gets them to their destination where they are reassembled and delivered.
So if I send an e-mail, it’s, again, like sending this novel, rips out all the pages, sticks them on post cards, puts page numbers on them, and then you throw it into the network. They could travel all sorts of different paths to get to the destination. They get there; they get reassembled.
And whereas the old phone network was centralized, the Internet is decentralized.
So this is my sort of metaphorical point: what is fundamentally different about the Internet is the way that it distributes power, decentralizes control, eliminates chokepoints—chokeholds and points of centralization, and that is sort of the metaphor for how people use it.
Metaphorically it’s how the networks are different. It also applies to how people use it, and I think it further gives us a useful window into the ways that it can sort of change society.
The one footnote is, of course, these networks, it turns out, in ways that probably we didn’t expect a couple of years ago, can be subjected to centralized choke points and control mechanisms that have been engineered and architected and grafted onto this otherwise highly distributed network. And so in repressive regimes—Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and so forth—they have tried their best to sort of centralize it. But even there, there is leakage, and it’s very difficult to keep information out.
So this is my very long answer to your very short question about what;’s the difference
BURTON: Very good. Well, having rejected my thesis, both speakers, I think that they agree that it is a cluster of distributed technologies that is a massive change agent when it comes to communications.
Well, let’s jump quickly then to the second category, and I think this is actually how people often think of Google—information warehouse. So the Internet houses massive amounts of content, and that then raises all sorts of questions, who gets it, who owns it, who gets to access it, what are the IP rights?
Carol Bartz of Autodesk referred to the Internet as the world’s largest home shop-lifting network. So there is a crime element there.
And what does all this mean for international relationships?
So, Craig, start with you.
CALHOUN: All right, well, let me start again.
I mostly agree with what Andrew was saying about this, but I want to pick up on one small qualification to that, to lead into this, which is, it’s very decentralized, yes. And so we have this massively decentralized technology.
But when we think of that, we need to bear in mind that power in relationship to it is not necessarily as decentralized as the use of it. And so you can have a kind of decentralized, deconcentrated use of a network and still have relatively substantial central power in relation to the network, in relation to what gets on it, but not gets on it somewhere, if it gets noticed on it to some extent. So if you think of what does it take to create sites that are going to get very high impact ranking from Google, right, that are going to be prominent.
And you’ve got a variety of capacities that states have, certainly, but also commercial organizations and others so that there is some considerable concentration of power. And an argument can be made that in several arenas, including international commerce, the jury is out as to whether the Internet has in fact deconcentrated power.
It’s entirely arguable that it has enabled relatively powerful players to do a lot of new things, as well as enabled some previously marginalized players to get into the game. So I think it’s an open question how those two balance.
Now in relation to the warehouse metaphor, if you go to that, and keeping in mind—(inaudible)—while the Internet enables access to a variety of stores of content, how we—(inaudible)—the Internet. Well, sort of, but that varies with what we’re talking about. You have a variety of stores of content.
The big issue is going to be the ways in which the content gets replenished. And so what’s going on with the production of new content as distinct from simply the accumulation of stores of content.
How is access getting governed to this warehouse? Is it going to be organized commercially? Is it going to be organized by being a member of an institution that actually is a mediator for access to the Internet?
So if you think about the wealth of scientific research that is available on the Internet, lot of it is accessible for a licensing fee that is being paid by universities, being paid by the CFR, I suspect, for its staff at the offices and being paid by various other institutions. But people outside institutions often find costs prohibitive to this.
But the same is true of some of the stores of artworks that are available on the Internet. You want to go to JSTOR, the Mellon Foundation’s funded archive of massive art—(inaudible). Well, this begins to get, then, to question, where are people located in the world, and how does access get mediated in this—to the warehouse?
And I think it’s not at all clear that all locations in the world are able to access it equally. Geography gets transcended, but there are are bunch of other forms of power than can create blockages in this. And so, as Andrew says, yeah, there are ways in which states can come in, but you don’t have to be talking about North Korea building walls to be able to see the ways in which there are these mediations of who’s able to get into the warehouse, what they’re going to do and then add to this the enormous sets intellectual property questions that are being raised by this, which are sort of central in a variety of arenas, and we can come back to, but which are in considerable part about who’s going to benefit from this, who is going to be able to charge in some way, but also, what is going to be the capacity to retain something like control over the form in which the material in the warehouse is presented because together with other parts of computer information technology in a narrow sense as part of the Internet, you’ve got a variety of ways to transform the original work so they don’t stay inertly the way they were.
So part of the problem of intellectual property is the integrity of the original object, right, not simply who can get to it and whether they paid you on the way.
BURTON: Very good. Andrew, content.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the metaphor that I might use, not to be a quarrelsome panelist who always rejects what the moderator says, but the metaphor that I would use instead of a warehouse is the metaphor of a bazaar.
So Eric Raymond, who is an open-source programming guru, wrote an article that became a book called, "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," which I recommend. And I think that he captures sort of the—right, the difference between old and new. And again, what the Internet represents in this area is a bazaar. And I think as Craig just said, it’s absolutely correct to say that not every stall in the bazaar is of equal import and is of equal—gets equal amounts of traffic.
It is no coincidence that some of the biggest and some of the very few sort of profitable content sources or news sources on the Internet are the NewYorkTimes.com, WallStreetJournal.com. I mean, it, again, would have been a mistake to imagine that the Internet was going to be some magical happy land where all of a sudden everything is flattened, and your next door neighbor’s blog gets the, you know, same traffic and credibility as The New York Times.
We carry over into the Internet the same things that we—the things that we start off with. But what I think it’s interesting is that the Internet allows the entrepreneur—the entrepreneurials Baazarists—to show up. I mean, influential in Washington right now is Josh Marshall, who writes Talking Points Memo intimate, which is really him, you know, him and his computer. And he writes, and lots of people read it. And he has smart and interesting things to say. And so I think the warehouse metaphor is kind of the wrong one.
I think the power flows are kind of interesting to take note of. But they are vastly more mutable on the Internet than they are elsewhere. And the competitive market—I mean, from where—you know, from where I sit—it seems like an incredibly competitive market that very much gives force to the old adage that if you snooze you lose. People that are lazy on the net, whether they are libraries or companies or newspapers, end up losing traffic with a rapidity which is breathtaking.
CALHOUN: Just a quick—(inaudible).
Again, I agree with—(inaudible), though with many markets, they’re more competitive while they’re new, right? And we’re seeing a very new arena in which—(inaudible)—competitiveness may be a condition of being relatively new, but it may also be a continuing feature. It’s not clear how much of it is due to the technology as such.
BURTON: Very good. Okay, and let’s just quickly try and go through a few more of these categories. We’ve already touched on decentralizing versus concentrating of power issue.
New dimension of the global economy: Is the Internet a phenomenon which is supercharging globalization, changing business models, increasing outsourcing and sort of fundamentally changing international economic relations and therefore international relations and foreign policy?
Craig, your thoughts?
CALHOUN: Short answer, yes on this one. (Inaudible)—agree. Absolutely. It’s economically huge. Yes, it encourages outsourcing and distribution of a variety of—(inaudible). Remember we were talking about just in time 20 years ago when a year or two ago when that was a new concept. We’ve now got a variety of many more complex ways in which we are combining the Internet and its communications capacities with transportation, technologies and other kinds of infrastructures to reorganize an ever-more global sub-arrangement.
You’ve also got those activities that don’t require physically moving anyone or anything, which the—and get distributed especially well through Internet.
So absolutely—every reason to think that there are going to be more of the outsourcing and other sorts of things that lead Tom Friedman to say the world’s flat.
Now is the world flat? How—where does this go as well with policy? Well, okay, you can—I don’t want to quibble over the metaphor so much as to say that there are still a lot of ways in which nation-states matter in this and in which this is still a foreign policy issue for those nation-states. It doesn’t escape and dictate to—(inaudible). It rearranges the way in which economic activity is taking place.
And it creates new centers—(inaudible)—that activity. So, for example, the rise of the Indians to an increasingly strong player internationally is greatly facilitate by the Internet. We are going to contend with a continuous rise in the extent to which India is not merely doing outsourcing of a sort of lower-middle level of the market, but is actually—and it already is playing a very key role.
That, moreover, changes things like relations within the region of Asia. So you have a variety of Asian powers that are growing stronger—and China may be the example that everybody is most focused on today—but you’ve also got a variety of new kinds of integration within Asia, in which you have joint ventures that are organizing Taiwanese firms and Indian firms in collaboration with each other, which would be very hard to accomplish without the kind of connectivity Internet brings.
So this then creates greater regional integration in Asia, right, and changes some of the stories there—greater intra-regional trade within Asia rather than just trade with the rest of the world and certainly does change foreign policy interests in significant ways.
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, I agree with all of that.
CALHOUN: We’ve got to stop agreeing.
MCLAUGHLIN: This is one where just a simple yes is the right answer. The Internet is in fact supercharging globalization, and I think we have only barely begun to understand how that is going to affect people.
Let me just make two very quick observations that I think are interesting. One is about the persistent relevance of policy—government policy—in this area.
So if you take the example of India, you are right, the Internet is, in fact, driving remarkable transformations in the Indian economy and also in Indian politics in interesting ways. What’s amazing about that, though, is that India’s Internet infrastructure is stinks; it’s terrible. They have one of the worst, most inefficient monopolistic telecom companies that has ruthlessly weeded out any hint of competition from other sources.
It’s starting to crack a little bit now under the Singh government. They’ve started to liberalize this market a little bit. But I’ll meet Indian computer scientists who tell me about how they’re still sharing dial-up connections, you know, among the computer lab at their Indian Institute of Technology. And they’re producing remarkably awesome software in the midst of this.
So anyway, this is an area where governments can still do a lot of harm by propping up monopolistic players. And this is, again, nothing surprising or new, but it’s a very powerful phenomenon.
And the second point about—well, you know what. I’m just giong to leave it. Let’s move on because I—(inaudible)—kind of short. I don’t want to keep—
BURTON: Okay, we’ll just—I think we’ve touched on a lot of these. I’ll answer the next category, which Andrew and Craig and I discussed earlier. Should the Internet be a tool of policymakers to formulate policy and influence opinion? And think they both said U.S. foreign policy establishment should not use it to that effect because it—
MCLAUGHLIN: I—(inaudible)—to say something different.
BURTON: All right, well, try it. I’m not sure that’s the right interpretation—
MCLAUGHLIN: To answer a slightly different question, which is, is the Internet is a powerful way for the U.S. foreign policy apparatus—the State Department and the Foreign Service and so forth—to go out and sell the policies and values of the United States.
And I think my response to that is, probably not, in the sense that people on the Internet have proven to be awfully skeptical of being marketed to. And this is a phenomenon across many media—TV viewers, newspaper readers. People have shown this kind of almost viral resistance to being preached to, and the old ways of selling and marketing no longer work.
In this country—it’s actually interesting to look at ads in this country versus ads in other countries you travel around. In this country you no longer can really see too many of the kind of blunt, ruthless product pitches that you used to get. Instead you have to have wry, ironic ads with a twist that tell a little story and appeal to your sense of—sort of self-aware all-knowingness and exhausted cynicism, right. (Laughter.)
And so this is also true, I think, for the Internet generation globally. And I think that my answer to the question, should it be used as a tool for policy selling is, you know, probably not. I don’t see how, you know, putting up gleaming websites, you know, that extol the virtues of American democracy is going to convince anybody.
However, there is this—if any of you have spent any time looking at the al Qaeda-related network of websites—if you ever see any videos on them, they are astounding. They are powerful. They rhetorically muscular. They are an amazing use of the Internet that I would not have predicted a couple of years ago. And in some ways they’re preaching to the choir, but my sense is that in—to a much greater extent than anyone in the U.S. is really comfortable admitting, they are also winning converts. And so though I don’t think it’s a good tool for us, I actually think it’s a very powerful tool for radical groups with—that are working in garden—harvesting the fruits of discontent. And that’s something we need to be very conscious of.
So there is probably a role for the Internet to market and counter. I mean, I’m an old First Amendment lawyer, and so I always believe that, you know, when there is evil speech it needs to be confronted with more speech, right, and better speech and truth. But that is an area where I think we have sort of comprehensively failed, and the traditional marketing techniques are likely to continue to fail.
CALHOUN: So, yeah, no in agreement—(inaudible). We generally are asserting that it will not be very effective for the U.S. government try to be a centralized provider of a message that is going to sell everywhere.
And I agree that there’s going to be a success—(inaudible)—al Qaeda and a variety of others, not only by extremists and radicals, but by a variety of small groups.
This is a technology that isn’t going to favor attempts to use as a broadcast technology. And a lot of the thinking about public diplomacy and use of the Internet in the U.S. government has imagined it’s going to broadcast the message out to everybody. And this is just not—it’s going to get debunked as much as it’s going to get anything else.
What we haven’t considered, though, is things like a version of soft power—(inaudible)—conflict, the extent to which the U.S. benefits from the enormous numbers of other providers of content on the Internet—(inaudible)—CFR, right, and the way the Council’s Internet site matters, right?
So not by broadcasting a message, but by creating an information environment and an access that allows for people to see a variety of counter messages, debates about messages to question what’s on the al Qaeda website if you’re inclined to, but a variety of others.
And so rather than be a highly planned focus for diplomacy efforts, is we’re going to sell you this, in a technology and a market in which a 100—a 1,000—flowers are going to bloom, we better make sure that we’re nurturing a lot of blooming in places where fairly serious analysis and questions are going to take place and where people are going to get access to good information, all of that.
And when I say not just radicals, (think of?) things like—(inaudible)—to set one of the other questions up, transnational communities—the Internet is very interestingly implicated in efforts of national governments to keep track of relationships with transnational diasporas.
So on the one hand it’s an exciting tool for people who keek connection to their family, friends and others in a transnational diaspora. This isn’t like emigrating from Germany to the United States in the middle of the 19th century, and you’re lucky if you ever get a few letters, right?
(This is a matter of ?) constant connectivity; people are moving around. It is also a matter of where various governments are intervening in it trying to organize this and using this as a tool of their foreign policy, getting the diaspora communities to lobby the U.S. government and others.
And so we shouldn’t neglect that kind of foreign policy—(inaudible).
BURTON: Very good. I think we’ll stop with this side of the presentation at this point with my questions. We could have touched on all the issues one way or another. And I think now the floor is open to you. And happy to take questions from the floor.
When you speak please identify yourselves and wait for the microphone to be passed and keep your questions short and to the point.
Yes, in the back in the tan suit. Microphone’s coming.
QUESTIONER: Bill Courtney with Computer Sciences Corporation.
In the former Soviet Union we generally found that foreign radio broadcasts had an enormous impact—VOA, Radio Liberty, BBC, Deutsche Welle, others.
We also generally found that news programming and and fact—factual programming, if you will, had enormous influence. The famous VOA editorials, things that were U.S. policy, had almost no perceptible influence that we could find.
If that could be replicated there, then one might say the CFR website, being fact-based or news-based, probably has a fairly good prospect of influencing people around the world, but using the Internet for public diplomacy per se may be less effective.
Do you think the analogy applies?
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, I think that is very much in accordance with what I was just saying. I agree.
BURTON: I think that was the point the panelist just made, so yes, there is accord there. Yes.
QUESTIONER: Richard Moose.
The panelists have touched on the Internet as a potential tool of government for explaining or selling policy. But a question that perhaps pushes you a little bit to the outside of your experience, what’s your impression of the manner in which the Internet may have changed the work that the policymaker or the diplomat or the State Department person does and how has it impacted the policy process?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this is actually a very interesting question. And let me just offer a couple of anecdotal observations about it.
So a very—let me just say is that what I’m about to do is give you is sort of a pale version of something that Professor Ann-Marie Slaughter, who now is the dean at the Wilson School at Princeton, has written about in the non-Internet context, but I think is super interesting and applicable in this context, which is, one of the things that the Internet enables is for the kind of mid-level officials in policymaking, right? So people below the minister level who are responsible for working in particular issue areas, it allows them to get to know each other across boundaries, and to keep in touch.
And so one of the phenomenon that I’ve observed in doing, you know, about eight years of work in kind of policymaking at the international level is, if you go a meeting of ICAM, for example, which is the Internet’s technical coordinating body that I had helped to set up and run for a couple of years, you have this group of government officials from different ministries, all, you know, sort of relatively junior, right? They were people who knew about the Internet and got assigned to deal with this thing. And they created an informal policymaking network, right, from probably 80 different countries. They had a mailing list; they had subgroups; they talked to each other; they met each other three or four times a year and worked on different issues, wrote documents together. It was actually an amazing thing to watch. They had much more in common with each other than they had with the agriculture ministry people from their own government.
And the sort of—I would say that the result was policy which was not—which was not like purely American friendly—right—interestingly. They viewed America in this context is a kind of—tended to view as a kind of unilateralist behemoth, right? And so they worked on a kind of a multilateral basis and cooked up solutions that would have not come out of the U.S. alone, certainly would not have come out of the usual that we make policy in organizations like the ITU or the various U.N. bodies that are treaty based and have highly formalized mechanisms for formulating policy.
So anyway, this is, to me, an example of what’s possible and sort of the good that can come of it. But it represents policymaking across national borders in a much more informal way by people who have a lot more in common with each other than they do with other parts of their government.
CALHOUN: It’s also speeded up the extent to which other constituencies can confront policymakers with questions about policies that are being made or that have just been made. There is a much more rapid response from other mobilized constituencies, just to add only that.
BURTON: Very good. Yes. You’ll be next.
QUESTIONER: David Apgar, Corporate Executive Board.
Given that one of our panelists, Andrew, has spent some time working on deliberative polling and another, Craig, has spent time interpreting Habermas for Americans and his theory of communitive action, what advice would you have for the Council about considering adding a carefully moderated member weblog to its website? And the problem being that people think of the Council and they think establishment—high-bound academic. And I’m wondering to what a extent a little bit of looseness, maybe not as much as unmoderated discussion board, might help overcome that.
CALHOUN: I’ve known Richard Haass a long time. And now one reason I would hesitate to get into this is it’s partly a cost question. I mean a very significant part of this is, how much do you want to invest in editing, not just, do you know how much you want to moderate and where the borders are, but if this is any kind of success, that is, if it’s not 18 people but 1,800 or 18,000 people and then trying to moderate and organize this is a labor cost. It’s a significant investment.
Is it exciting and interesting? Yes. My other bit of advice would be, these things are going to happen. This isn’t the CFR’s value-added niche, would be my guess. There are going to be a whole variety of blogs, and these are going to spring up around these sorts of issues.
Now maybe some culling from the blogs and bringing people—bringing the messages from a variety of blogs, having an editorial function—Reader Digest of blogs, that might be a CFR niche, it seems to me.
MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I agree with that. I actually think—I would encourage CFR fellows, affiliates and other people to run their own blogs and then to use the editorial judgment of the CFR as an institution to pick and choose from the best of them, things to highlight on the home page. At least that’s how I feel.
QUESTIONER: Andrew Pierre, Georgetown University, and this question is for Andrew primarily.
As I understand it, I may have it wrong, Google is financing and planning for the placing of the entire contents of four of our major American libraries on the World Wide Web. And could you tell us a bit about what that means and how easy is it going to be to really use that? Are they entire books going on, mechanically, how is this done?
And then, apart from sort of that question—I spent a lot of time in France recently. And as you know the French are up in arms about this because they think it’s going to be American culture trying to internationalize—you know, American culture being spun. And there’s a French/European plan to do the same, which is not as well funded as Google’s plan.
And what does this whole issue tell us about international relations in terms of the spread of knowledge?
MCLAUGHLIN: So let me give you—that’s a, to me, a super interesting question. Let me give you a quick answer as I can, and you’ll poke me if I’m saying too much.
I need to preface what I’m about to say with the following remark, which is that Google is now offering a bunch of shares in New York. (Laughter.) And there is a thing called a quiet period that attaches to employees of the company. And so we are now in a quiet period, and so I’m not allowed to say anything that is not sort of already posted and referenced up on the Google website. But I can say a few things about this. But I can tell you what we’re doing.
So the Google library project—Larry and Sergey, who were the two founders of Google, got actually interested in web search because they were interested in digitizing libraries. So when the company turned out to be successful, and they were looking around trying to, you know, sort of see what the future of search might look like, they said, well, a lot of human knowledge is in books, and it’s not on the web, and people can’t find it using Google.
And so the way to get it accessible is to make it digital and to have it searchable. So the basic story is, we’ve got a deal with these five libraries—Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, the New York Public Library and Oxford University. And we have a scanning process that takes the books and, in a way that doesn’t damage them, scans in the contents—does what’s called optical character recognition of the images, so that it determines what the letters are, and then we can make that searchable.
So there’s a distinction between books that are in copyright and books that are out of copyright. Books that are out of copyright, you can actually read the whole thing on Google. You can type in your search, look at a book and then flip your way through it.
It also will provide links to local libraries and tells you whether it’s checked in or checked out in some places. And it will give you links to places where you can buy the book—to the publisher, or to Amazon or Barnes & Noble or somebody that might be selling it.
For books that are in copyright, all you can see is a short snippet of text around your search terms. And that’s it. And then at that point you have to either go buy the book or go check it out. And that’s basically the way the thing works.
So it was very interesting to have this objection voiced by—I shouldn’t say objection. The head of the French National Library warned that this project represents a potential steamrollering by the Anglo-Saxon cultural machine of world culture. (Laughter.)
And it’s—look, if you are somebody whose native language is not English, it’s a legitimate concern, right? Is your language going to be as accessible and searchable—as vibrant online—as English has turned out to be?
And so, to be honest, we were thrilled that they announced that they were going to engage in their book digitization project, right? The more of the world’s content that gets digitized and that gets out on the Web for people to search and to find and to read the better. If we don’t have to pay for it, and other people are willing to pay for it, again, so much the better.
And so we hope that we are going to spark, you know, people to take these projects seriously and to try to get books up on the Web, be they publishers or libraries or the European Union or whoever.
So my one sort of note about the international sort of affairs or international relations implications of this is—oh, and by the way, one of the things we said to the French was, give us your books and we’ll scan them. You know, like, we’re not choosy here. We’ll scan books in any language. And the advantage of, frankly, of Stanford, Oxford, Harvard and so forth is that they have a lot of books in a lot of different languages.
But anyway, the interesting sort of thought about this, if you are a speaker of a minority language—I mean in a sense everybody in the world is a speaker of a minority language, because there is no majority. But if you are a speaker of a small language, you are correct to be worried about what the Internet can do because your young people will be under a tremendous amount of pressure to speak English in order to get the good jobs and to do this kind of work.
I mean a great example is, there is a language in Nigeria called Igbo, which is spoken by tens of millions of people. And if you try to find documents in Igbo right now, you will find maybe, you know, 30 or 40 websites with maybe a couple of hundred pages each, tops. All right? I’m being a little generous in what you will find. That is a problem.
And I think that the goal of U.S. foreign policy ought to be to be—to do cooperation in a way which is—to engage in cooperation in a way which is respectful of, and indeed supportive of, these minority languages and cultures because the tendency of language to become a divider and a connector is pretty powerful.
So English helps to connect; Igbo keeps you isolated. And there have got to be ways to—there have got to be better ways than we have come up with so far to engage in a practice of foreign affairs and a practice of foreign policy, the creation of modes of cooperation around common problems, be it terrorism or environmental degradation or whatever it might be, that respect those basic differences in ordinary people.
QUESTIONER: Spurgeon Keeny, National Academy of Scientists. I’d like to get a clearer view of how this project will impact on the Council and its staff.
It seems to me that for the Council to try and keep up on a real-time basis to all the activities and international affairs will tie up pretty much all the work of all the people involved in the Council staff. But beyond that—remember, they’ll be competing with the New York Times, the Associated Press, Reuters, et cetera. But more important, is the question of commentary.
It seems to me there would be a tremendous incentive to be a first responder, and this will produce all sorts of quick reactions of the people on the staff who are associated with it, and it might be really a very mediocre and not carefully thought-through product.
What’s the process that the Council proposes to use to maintain some quality control on what is going on here, and to what extent do poor products—will they be looked upon as speaking for the Council of Foreign Relations, which, in general, is bogged down with peer review and an effort to maintain high quality in what they produce.
BURTON: Okay, I think we’ve gotten the thrust of your question, Archie. David and Mike, maybe I would throw that to you for a quick response.
KELLOG: That is a good question. We have a—Mike has a team of five or six staff people. They are writing; they are also making use of the web technology to identify what is already out there, serving as an editor and a filter. So this is not huge—the CFR.org piece of this is not hugely labor intensive.
Fellows of the Council that studies that are already doing a lot of what you were describing also. They are out talking, you know, responding to media requests, speaking to journalists. And that’s part of what they do in their process.
So this is really an incremental addition to what the organization is already doing in a big way. So I don’t think it’s perhaps as major a departure as you are describing.
BURTON: Very good. Perhaps you could continue that conversation over the break afterwards.
We’ll take some questions from this side of the room. And if we could maybe take three here on a roll. If you could each stand up and state your question briefly, we’ll get three of them.
QUESTIONER: Jim Dandich (ph) of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training at the Foreign Service Institute.
I was very interested in the panel’s observations on the use of the Internet for public diplomacy. And I would like to get your reaction to possibly the reverse use of the positive effects of Internet in a closed society, as opposed to what we would normally expect from an open society.
And I speak specifically about China, where the Voice of America has found that it is probably more effective to broadcast by way of the Internet than by its traditional forms of broadcast. And the Chinese government, of course, is very concerned about this intrusion among the masses to the point that it tries to control it.
The public diplomacy—
BURTON: Can I—I’m going to have to interrupt there because we’re trying to get a couple of questions in. I’m delighted you’ve raised the question of China and the Internet. I was hoping someone could do that, so we’ll get to that.
Could we have—next question, gentleman here with the yellow shirt.
QUESTIONER: Quickly, because this in a way follows on it. Gary Mitchell (ph) from the Mitchell Report.
I want to also touch on the public diplomacy question and observations made by Andrew about how—my question is, in your view is there something about the Internet that inherently favors the underdog, the challenger and the revolutionary as opposed to the big—you know, the big dog? Or is it not more a question of the big dog learning how to be better at crafting messages?
BURTON: Super question. Yes, ma’am.
QUESTIONER: Pauline Baker (ph) from the Fund for Peace.
I wonder if the panel would address the question of how to retain the vibrancy and excitement of the Internet, along bazaar metaphor and at the same time deal with the negative uses of the Internet, as a tool for terrorism, pornography for children, criminal—distribution of criminal facilities—that deal with—how do you treat that balance? And are we going to have the same battles in the Internet field that we have over free speech, censorship and so forth in trying to regulate those?
BURTON: Very good. So we have a question on the Internet and China, a question of the Internet inherently favoring the underdog and how do we retain the positive aspects of the Internet and keep the negative ones undertow. So if we could have responses to those three questions, please.
CALHOUN: Okay, I’ll shoot really quickly.
On China first, China’s already a lot less closed than it’s been at a variety of points. The Internet is there. There is a lot of active use. There is certainly government efforts to control access to the Internet.
I think the public diplomacy point that we made before would sort of stand, that making news content available, terrific. Trying to really control the message from our end is going to be really problematic and undermine the efficacy of making more factual information available.
The same problem is faced by the Chinese government, which is going to use control, which is a tricky sword there, for them. It’s very hard to completely control this. I think we have a lot more success trying to spin and trying to provide competing information. Blocking site by site and controlling is hard. Big targets like Voice of America they can try diplomatically to control—negotiate with the U.S., but there are just lots and lots and lots of sources. If you look at something like the rise in environmental activism in China, you see an enormous range of work coming in there.
So there is, I think, a huge opening up that the Chinese government can’t control.
On the other hand, it’s an urban intellectual elite that they deal with they deal with and (certainly an urban polity ?). It’s not the mass of the Chinese people yet. There are a lot of qualifications on that.
Secondly, on the—well, I’ll—(inaudible)—the question directly for Andrew, but I think the issues of free speech and all of the possible debates around negative uses of Internet are already there. Yes, we’re going to have those. We’re going to have them in spades. There’s going to be lots and lots of these debates, and they’re already there.
The one quick foreign policy lesson I would say from that is, in order to deal with these things—Internet security, uses by terrorism, child pornography, et cetera, all of these problematic uses of the Internet—we need multilateral relations. There are no unilateral solutions to this.
The way in which the U.S. has pursued its role in Internet diplomacy, if you will, the regulatory world, is potentially a problem because the only way we can deal with those is through building multilateral relations. And so we had better be creative. Those friendships networks better have something closer to the ICANN model that Andrew was talking about in that.
And relatedly, and this touches on the question of Google, and I don’t know if it’s things that Andrew can say—(inaudible)—publicly, but I’ll say it, which is that there is a big tension between a complete IPR approach a fair-use or even an open-source approach to a variety of issues on the Internet.
One of the things that comes up is the importance of having real support for fair-use doctrines in all of this arena and figuring out how they relate to intellectual property rights. And we’ve got an approach to the Internet diplomacy which is assumed that our national interest is mainly around protecting intellectual property rights. And it’s not so clear that our national interest lies mainly there rather than in a variety of forms of open access, which may not be nurtured primarily by intellectual property rights or at least by a very strict commercial interpretation of them.
BURTON: And underdog—Internet inherently favoring the underdog?
CALHOUN: I’m not of the opinion that the Internet inherently favors the underdog. I’m of the opinion that the Internet sort of splits on this, that there is not a strict technological determination. It enables the powerful to do a variety of things with their power on the Internet, and it enables a lot of small entrants to do things.
Let me use the language question as an example that came up before about languages. I think the Internet is bad for French. And so all those years I spend learning French, right, unfortunate investment in this. (Laughter.) I think the Internet is—right—the Internet allows—is good for only one set of monolingual folks, and that’s English speakers. But it is relatively good for a variety of potential multilingual communities around the world.
It makes it easier for them to have a mastery of English, and it actually is relatively good for putting up material in these other languages. Now whether there’s the economic resources and the capacity to put up the Igbo material that Andrew refers to is a question. But there are a variety of small language groups that are using the Internet effectively—indigenous people around the world who are getting up websites and are making effective use, not only to present their case internationally, but to keep alive and available text and languages where there is otherwise not much access.
So for those who are going to be multilingual, and that’s one kind of underdog, and—(inaudible)—a lot of small language groups, there is something good. But does that mean that there is not a huge built-in advantage for English? No.
So the big dog gets something here. The underdog gets something. In the middle, right, the other claimants to being a really powerful potential monolingual language or the language of diplomacy or the language of international affairs are in a different situation.
BURTON: Very good. Now we’re going to have to give Andrew the last word here. But with so many journalists in the audience, we have tomorrow’s headline, which is, the Internet is bad for French. (Laughter.)
So Andrew, do you want to make final comments. And fortunately, we have a buffet dinner afterwards, so there will be plenty of time to talk individually with the two panelists.
(Inaudible)—China, underdog and good versus bad.
MCLAUGHLIN: So a couple of quick points. Thinking about repressive societies in general, there is—was a great phrase that was coined by a professor named Jamie Boyle, who teaches law at Duke now, a couple of years ago. He talked about the libertarian gotcha. So the libertarian gotcha in the context of the Internet is, the Internet is a powerful tool for communications and commerce, and its fundamental nature is such that efforts to control it destroys the thing which makes it economically worthwhile.
So if you try to control it and you try to apply rules and laws and so forth, you destroy the very value of the thing itself. So it’s too valuable for you to destroy, so therefore you can’t control it. That’s the libertarian gotcha.
And I think what’s interesting is that a number of countries have attempted to thread the needle—you know, sort of thread the needle—of this gotcha. And China is one. So China wants all the benefits of the Internet. They have opened their networks. They take traffic in and out. And at the same time they have rules about content—things that you are not supposed to say or talk about, which are—they’re considered harmful to society by the authorities in China. And so they try to think of ways to enforce those rules in the context of this open Internet, and they’re finding it very difficult to do that. They’ve been successful in some ways; they’re finding it very difficult in other ways.
If you look at the speed with which news travels through China right now, it’s incredible. You know it used to be a truism that if you were living in Beijing you would hear nothing about what was going on in Hangzhou or in Chengdu or in Shenzhen. Now it’s a simple SMS message from your old—relatives in the old neighborhood to you in the capital city or you in Shanghai. And news travels like that. People pass messages around very quickly.
So you know, there are, you know—with—governments are able to try to maintain the kinds of controls over the flow of information that they’re used to. There have been some successes. But I think the libertarian gotcha is too strong—kind of works here.
You can see by the way that the Internet is vastly less significant in countries like Saudi Arabia, for example, which have not warmly and whole-heartedly embraced the economic side of the Internet, right? So they’ve managed to sort of like keep it out and keep it restrained—keep it restricted—to a very small urban elite, with limited success economically.
So in other words, they have not bought into the Internet. And I think once they do, they’ll find it similarly difficult to actually exercise control through it.
On the question of, does the Internet inherently favor the big dog—the underdog—over the big dog? I agree with Craig on this one actually. The answer is no. There is nothing inherent about the Internet that does that, except two things: One is the distributed nature of the net and lack of any gateway that you have to get through in order to post things. You know, you can post your information on all manner of websites and groups and things like that.
It does allow the underdog to get out there in some way, shape or form, and the big dog can’t silence them. So unlike in the TV or the radio world, they have an inherent in to the global conversation—the global dialogue—that is the Internet. But it doesn’t inherently favor their point of view in such structural senses.
Culturally, though, there is a culture of the Internet, and it is different. It is a harmonized global culture. And so a 14-year-old—again, this is one of those areas of we only barely begin to understand what’s going on. A 14-year-old Korean kid who loves to play video games, and a 14-year-old American kid who loves to play video games have got a lot in common. And they’re probably playing against each other right now.
Their spaceships are killing each other. I can’t resist telling this one—
BURTON: This is your last comment,
MCLAUGHLIN: My last comment, so I can’t—
BURTON: It’s your last comment, Andrew, so make it good.
MCLAUGHLIN: I can’t resist telling this one little anecdote, which is, there is all of these massively multiplayer online games that are incredibly popular across Asia, and they are becoming more popular in this country. You log in; it’s a whole universe; you sit in your spaceship; you fly around; and you are zooming past ships piloted by kids from India, China, the U.K. and Argentina and literally thousands of them all at the same time.
So the funny things that happens is, in these games, people get really good; they get really bored. So one game that started to emerge in a game called Starcraft a couple of years ago was, the really good people would wait for a newbie to show up and then they would waste the newbie mercilessly over and over again, capture screen shots, send it with a ha-ha mocking message by instant messenger and, you know, do this kind of ruthless sort of brutal killing of the new people.
Some group of players gets outraged by this behavior, and they then decide that their mission is going to be, protect the new people from these bad old people until they can get good enough to, you know, survive on their own in this Hobbesian environment.
So then the funny thing that happens, and this is just, you know, priceless in terms of the sociological data that this represents about human beings and how they behave in the state of nature. Then the next thing that happens is, mafias develop. And there are protection rackets, and you can pay people hard dollars—real money—thanks to PayPal. (Laughter.) You can actually transfer bucks to people. And so then, you know, when you show up they’ll be like, gosh you look awfully vulnerable. (Laughter.) It would sure be nice if somebody was protecting you, and here is my e-mail address if you want to send me some money through PayPal.
And so then eventually you have these sort of notions of justice in this game environment that emerge. And the thing that is incredible about this—and this is a good note to end on. The thing that is astonishing is that the people who are behaving in this way are genuinely the next generation of kids from all over the world that are learning to do things with each other, play games against each other, cooperate with each other and to vindicate ideas of justice and social organization that never would have been possible before the Internet.
And that is something that ought to give all of us hope.
BURTON: Very good. (Applause.)
BURTON: I’d like to thank our two panelists. I’d like to thank the Council especially for the website that they provided us. And I think it’s only appropriate that we ended up with the video game analogy for foreign affairs with this topic.
Nancy, thank you.
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