Sunday, January 3, 2010

Social Networking

Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, GovLoop..... which one? All of them? None of them?
How did we ever make friends growing up? Do you ever wonder?

In the playground of digits and keyboards, social interaction has become an avatar and screen time. Not face-to-face interaction but acronyms and shortened phrases that our parents won't recognize. Conversations are short and to the point and meeting people has become an electronic game of who knows who.

I can remember when my sorority sister met her fiance through an online dating service and all of us were appalled. Being from the south, it was unheard of. Simply not done. To put yourself out there without the protection of your sisters. Entirely too independent. The safety net of the flock nowhere to be found.

Now it seems the way to find a job, a colleague, information for your work project is to post it out on Twitter or Facebook or LinkenIn and see who can help you. It's fast and efficient and who knows what matter of expert is out there to assist you.
The way we work has changed and the way we make friends has changed.

And I like it. There are people all over the world and social networking has opened up avenues so far beyond the backyard playground that our experiences can expand so far past what we once knew. Exposing ourselves to other cultures and ideas that the possibilities are limitless.

So I say pick Facebook to reconnect with your hometown buddies, LinkedIn for your professional life, Twitter to stay on top of things, GovLoop if your a DC careerist and use Google or Yahoo if none of these work for you. Cynic? Privacy feign? Look into them. They have the settings and you determine what you want to put out there.

This is just the tip of the iceberg folks. Those silicon valley basement geniuses will come up with something even better next.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

'Get the Terrorist' Program for All

Flight 253 from the Netherlands to Detroit - One 23-year old Nigerian is taken out by passengers Alain Ghonda and Jasper Schuringa. That tells me that maybe what we need is to take the 3 oz bottles out of the little plastic baggies. Keep our shoes on and leave laptops in the bags. I'm pretty sure the marmalade I brought back from Barbados wasn't loaded.
But instead how about training all passengers on self-defense?

Let's forget forboding, irritating security at all airports worldwide that is obtrusive, annoying and evidently not working. Forget massive amounts of troops overseas for years on end that seem to result in Al-Quaida moving training camps to more fertile breeding grounds (read Yemen.)

Let's put our effort toward training every day Americans on thwarting threats. Rather than relying on ill-trained TSA guards or putting our faith in drones flown out of Nevada, how about we each take a little piece of responsibility in our own protection?

So here's my idea: a two-day "Get the Terrorist" program. Teach regular Americans how to identify suspicious activity, radicalism, fundamentalism and how to report it. Volunteers of course. This should also teach the difference between a regular Joe and fanatic. Obviously this isn't easy. But if you notice someone who checks no bags, pays with cash, wears a skull cap and shouts "Allahu AkBar" as he boards your plane, I might reconsider my trip to Aunt Bessie's and call my local FBI agent.

Of course, if all of this gets missed and you end up on the plane or bus or train or some very crowded public place that could cause mass casualties with a person like this, then the program should teach you how to take this person out. Just like Alain Ghonda and Jasper Schuringa had the nerve to do. Just like the Flight 93 passengers had the nerve to do. When it comes to terrorism on American soil, our military is not going to be there to do anything about it.

We, the American people, are going to be there. We need to be able to do something about it. And we need to be able to recognize the difference between a bottle of water and the PETN that this kid exploded in his pants - or at least be able to put it out, take him down and land the plane safely.

(Time Magazine article in the link above on What We Can Learn from Flight 253)