Wikileaks, education cuts and Saga wars
In my role as teacher of A Level students of IT (ICT) the Wikileaks story is a gift. To say that it is exemplar material for the ‘internal and external threats to security’ section of the syllabus is an understatement. I have milked it unmercifully in an attempt to be ‘relevant’ and ‘happenin’’. However even though I am hugely intrigued, even fascinated by the saga, my young proto-geeks have sobered me up quite a lot. The key word is saga. Wikileaks’ cyber-war would be better dubbed saga-war on account of the age of the protagonists. At 39 yrs old Assange is the boy-band spokesperson for a shadowy group of core-crusties who average age I think is about 50. In my final (A2 year) group of 18 year old students, two had not a clue about what had been happening over the past weeks re Wikileaks and on being enlightened (at length) remarked variously (adopt v worried expression) ‘Does this mean that the Americans will close down Facebook?’, ‘they’ll just spoil everything’ and best of all, ‘they did not have the Privacy setting right’...how true. The more pugilistic members of the groups ventured some supportive opinions in that ‘they are fighting for freedom’ and less promisingly ‘no one beats the Government in the end’s In my apologia to them I described the activities of the ‘hactivists’ in an attempt to tap into the youth of the patently very young ‘Coldblood’ (who had had coverage on the radio) explaining how Anonymous worked: no result. Some had heard Coldblood and agreed he was young but ‘sounded weird’ and that the hackers who attacked Mastercard et al were just doing it for fun, a term they did not relate to in this context, but it was probably like the fun had by those that played ‘War of Warcraft (sic)’ . Finally, building on the bravado of the freedom loving section of the group I mentioned the world wide personal web bot DDoS attackers
whoops a step too far ... no takers here for sure. To cut a long story short the only resonance I really got was a general agreement that the original ‘leak’ of the 1.6gb file was an example of incompetence and ‘one gets what one deserves’. Maybe the kids are right, all this freedom protest stuff is for oldies only? Then the penny dropped. What I was picking up was the fear of loss. You only have to watch the footage of the student protests over University Fees to notice that the ‘generation-that-never -before-had-so-much’ faces a future where they will have less than their elders. In the past Student-age folk were pretty fearless having little to lose as they had little to start with. The old codgers of Wikileaks and OpenLeaks merely threaten to irritate further the establishment that is already taking from a pampered generation that has much to lose.