Tommy, Can You Hear Me?
Norimitsu Onishi's article in the New York Times entitled "Japanese Find a Forum to Vent Most-Secret Feelings" is fascinating. According to Mr. Onishi, "In a society in which subtlety is prized above all, face-to-face confrontation is avoided, insults can be leveled with verbal nuances and hidden meanings are found everywhere, there is one place where the Japanese go to bare their souls and engage in verbal combat: Channel 2."
What is "Channel 2"? Simply an anonymous Internet BBS where secrets can be unburdened and read by others without retribution. Unlike American "talk radio", where people actually want to be known, Channel 2 is a way to reveal oneself and others with no concern for social or business status.
"In the United States and Europe, a community spirit was behind the growth of the Internet and remains a force. But in Japan, which was late to the Net, it has been almost exclusively business driven." And this explains why a BBS would have so much power in Japan.
John Brunner, in his 1975 book The Shockwave Rider described a repressed networked society who vented their frustrations by talking to "Hearing Aid", a one-way communication mechanism where real people would "just listen" and nothing would be recorded - somewhat like Channel 2. I read it while being driven to Berkeley to enroll in summer session before my freshman year.
Given the pending google IPO, is the info-futures betting pool - the "Delphi" of the future - actually a precient analysis of the advent of IPO dutch auctions on a mass scale?
Brunner died in 1995, never achieving the real fame that soft scifi writers have received. The inventor of many of the terms, from worms to viruses to agents, of computer security, he's known by the people who bring you this stuff. He built up an Internet five years after the Internet was invented by Dr's Cerf and Kahn.
But that's old stuff right? Now it's bioengineering. Brunner covered that as well in his book - biogenetic manipulaiton of the gross form is done as part of a genetics cold war, to maintain an edge. Funny, that's also the big area in investment right now. Maybe he was on to something?