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Information, Technology, and Innovation: Resources for Growth in a Connected World by John M. Jordan

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CHAPTER 34

Conflict

As the basis for daily life, first-world economies, and much of the world's innovation moves into the world of information and communications, it's inevitable that bad guys and bad actions migrate there as well. The term “information warfare” doesn't really mean anything specific, so it's worth looking at a few of the ways computing and communications are reshaping crime and conflict. These areas might represent business opportunities for some, risks for others, and points of departure: Innovation is occurring on the dark side as well as in the light.

The intersection of technology, economics, politics, and violence that occurred in the summer of 2011 was nothing short of a milestone. When young people used Facebook and Twitter to organize riots in London, the social media tools were frequently blamed for the violence. Given the wide scale of the events of August and the diversity of participants, such an explanation is insufficient. Certainly, communications tools including BlackBerry Messenger were used to coordinate sometimes-professional criminals who were looting from prearranged lists. Other violence was copycat, undoubtedly fueled in part by hot summer temperatures, high unemployment, and political alienation. Once more, the superb effectiveness of mobile and Internet technologies in facilitating group behavior was on display, in the service of various ends: After the damage was done, the most popular Twitter term over the four days of rioting was “riotcleanup.” ...

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