Terrorism and New Media

There has been much talk about terrorism getting a new edge with new media. In Singapore, recently, a well-educated lecturer in a local polytechnic, Abdul Basheer Abdul Kader,  has been arrested for having extremist ideologies and supporting terrorists. His ‘Islamic teachings’ came from pro-terrorism websites he read on the Web. 

Terrorists have gone global in their reach. Not only are they getting their hands on those near to them, they are also getting the attention and support from those far away and in the comfort of their own homes, to such a ‘unlikely suspect’ as Abdul Basheer. 

In the article, The new face of extremism: Young, Internet-savvy and easily duped, we are told that the usual stereotypes of the terrorist as someone who is a “misguided religious zealot”, “someone raging at perceived injustices” and “a school dropout with little to lose” has changed. In today’s high-tech world, think instead, of “Internet-savvy teenagers lapping up the errant ideology of the likes of Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)”. 

In particular, teenagers and young adults are most likely to visit radical websites and have “a shallow understanding of religion” and thus could easily be persuaded by warped ideologies. 

In Singapore, the Muslim community and the government have been trying to reach out to youth by dealing with contemporary issues and making sure that the correct teachings are imparted. 

Not only that, the battle to counter ‘cyber-terrorist’ attacks and influences has also gone high-tech, with the launch of the portal (www.singaporeunited.sg). The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore has started a forum at www.iask.com.sg to respond to queries and clarify doubts regarding Muslim beliefs.

Also, local terrorist research analyst, Ustaz Muhd Haniff Hassan has created an anti-terrorism, counterideology.multiply.com  that contains resources such as blog entries, videos, etc that help dispel myths about certain misguided beliefs. British Islamic scholar, Aftab Malik also has his website at www.amalpress.com to denounce terrorist ideologies.

Let’s hope that with the terrorism taking on a new cyber frontier, online users will be savvy enough to go back to basics, ie discern right from wrong. 

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Email Bankcruptcy

Email reply to all: Leave me alone

Recently, venture capitalist Fred Wilson declared a “21st century kind of bankruptcy”. In a posting on his blog about technology, Wilson announced he was giving up on responding to all the e-mail piled up in his inbox: “I am so far behind on e-mail that I am declaring bankruptcy,” he wrote. “If you’ve sent me an e-mail (and you aren’t my wife, partner, or colleague), you might want to send it again. I am starting over.”

What he did is not uncommon. Last September, the recording artist Moby sent an e-mail to all the contacts in his inbox announcing that he was taking a break from e-mail for the rest of the year.

Some days, I feel like doing the same. While email is supposed to bring convenience to communication, it also brings a lot of junk mail, and alot of stress as well. How many of us are unable to not reply to an email. When you see an unread message in your inbox, it just irks you to let it sit there. You just have to open it and then read it, and respond to it, or delete it or file it! You just have to do something with it. And if you are away for even a day, you will be swamped by an often unmanageable number of messages. It’s really hard to ignore email, and you feel somewhat guilty if you don’t respond once you read a message!

“The volume of e-mail traffic has nearly doubled in the past two years”, according to research firm DYS Analytics. And with so much spam and viruses, many users have started to swear off email! While a few brave ones go cold turkey, most tend to delete all messages and start with a clean slate. 

“E-mail overload gives many workers the sense that their work is never done”, said senior analyst David Ferris, and with never-ending streams of emails, many feel like their work is never done, which can be too much to bear. 

The term “e-mail bankruptcy” may have been coined as early as 1999 by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies the relationship between people and technology. Professor Sherry Turkle said she came up with the concept after researching e-mail and discovering that some people have fantasies about escaping their e-mail burden.

There could be something good coming out of this. Not using the email could force people to talk on the phone, or meet face to face, making communciation more human-like, enriching you in other ways!