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Dateline: 22 February 2000 Early Edition
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A Culture Clash?
Here's a puzzle for you... as the Net changes from being the exclusive domain of geeks, academics and keen hobbyists into a highly commercial environment that looks set to be overwhelmed by slick-Willies in pinstriped suits and patent leather shoes, how will the two distinctly opposing cultures co-exist?

The reason I ask is that I've realised just how much of a role this culture-clash has played in creating the huge rift which started tearing apart ISOCNZ right from the day it was formed, and which has more recently seen a defamation suit filed and a number of members (representing much of the country's core of Internet skill and expertise) preparing to either call an SGM or stage a mass walk-out.

In the case of O'Brien versus Brown -- the comments leveled by Alan Brown would have been easily shrugged off by any long-term Net user as just another flame. Flaming and being flamed is behaviour as old as the Net itself and until the "suits" arrived the general rule of thumb was that you simply ignored any insults that came your way -- or if you were spoiling for a fight you were entitled to give as good as you got.

There was an unwritten gentlemen's agreement which said that neither party would even think of taking legal action -- if you couldn't stand the heat then you'd simply get out of the kitchen.

Unfortunately the new-boys on the block (easily identified by those suits and patent leather shoes) tend to be easily offended and have no respect for the unwritten rules by which the Net has quite successfully operated and grown for more than 20 years.

On the one hand it could be argued that for these "suits" to barge into the domain of seasoned Net users and blatantly violate the rules in favour of their own set of standards -- as defined by the laws of one particular country, is simply arrogant and outrageous.

On the other hand it could be argued that it's about time the long-term Net users woke up to the fact that the profile of the Net community is changing and the old rules may no longer apply.

From where I sit there are valid points to be made on both sides ... what do you think?

Send me your opinions and I'll summarise the general feeling and perhaps quote some of the more interesting arguments. Please be sure and select "For Publication" or "Not For Publication" depending upon whether you are happy to have your comments published. Names will be withheld on request.

As always, your comments are gladly received.


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