Confused by any of the jargon you see below? Check the Y2K Glossary!
On the internet itself, I said many times I was not particularly influenced by the unofficial doomer websites. (I was mostly influenced by government stupidity. More on that in a second.) But there is no question that many people were influenced. Those most influenced stampeded based on the idea of roving mobs and Hollywood horror. They do not have a very good opinion of us, and they used Y2k to exploit fear and advance that opinion.
I like the idea that alternative voices can be heard on the internet. I like the deregulation. But there are limits even in a free society (although Y2k does not provide the best example.)
The best examples are the child pornography, the whacko racists, the bomb makers and all the rest. My answer would be for the government (and public) to give a very explicit description of the kinds of material that should not be on a website, and those ideas should be placed in the code of ethics of the Guild that represents IT.
I want to broadcast the idea that I think Bill Clinton is an idiot? Fine, those views are protected. I build my website, expound on my views, but I get it notarized by a professional before I am allowed to mount it on a service provider. At least then there is someone to hold accountable if the website advocates the assassination of the president.
Obviously the public must have a free and open debate about the nature of those restrictions, but restrictions there should be. On that one the Guild should be very open to the public input. Most, perhaps all, Y2k websites still would have been acceptable. Yourdon’s for example. I castigated him for his Hollywood Horror (New York into Beirut indeed) but his views on the Y2k issue were perfectly valid. North’s website might be approved with the disclaimer from the IT who notarized the site, “Most software professionals reject the description of the Y2k problem as presented on this website. For additional information and a more realistic approach to the problem, see...”
Put that on every page of the website, and see how effective a platform Gary North has.
Tom Benjamin, comp.software.year-2000, 01/15/00