The emerging two cultures on the Internet
One of the high points for me of going to the Friends of O’Reilly camp in Holland recently was seeing Ben Hammersley in the flesh. He writes one of the most interesting Blogs around, is outrageously talented and unforgiveably young. And, like me, he likes fine cigars. Need one say more? This week, he’s put up two interesting meditations on something quite profound, namely the realisation that Internet users who do not protect themselves with firewalls and anti-virus software are almost as guilty as the creeps who pollute the commons with spam and malware. “People who can’t filter spam, or block pop-ups, or prevent viruses from spreading”, he writes, “are themselves responsible for these things. There are two cultures growing — those who can filter, and those who can’t — and it may well be up to us who can to help those who can’t to join the modern world, lest they drag everyone back with them.” Or, to put it another way, “Firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-malware systems aren’t for your own protection anymore, but for everyone else’s benefit instead.”
That’s one of the reasons my colleagues and I at the Open University produced an online course on the subject of understanding and combating malicious software. The course has just finished its first presentation and has had an astonishing (and gratifying) level of student interest and participation.