The Taliban Versus the Jawa Report
"No joke, the Taliban have posted a message on a well-known Islamic forum addressing me, Rusty Shackleford, indirectly. In it, they gloat that their website is back online." And they challenge the Jawa Report to shut them down again. Rusty says:
The new website has a few more sophisticated safeguards, some of which we've already thwarted, but getting this new website shut down should not be that hard to do--with your help. The gauntlet has been thrown. The Taliban are practically begging for their website to be PWN3D once again. If you could please direct your readers to this post and to the complaint e-mails at the bottom of the post, I would be grateful.
Here's one more indication that the Internet is allowing, albeit in a desultory way, ordinary citizens to wage a "people's war" against the terror leaders. Without the blogosphere and people like Rusty Shackleford or Baron Boddissey, it is doubtful that "public diplomacy" and al-Hurrah TV could effectively wage information warfare.
But of course the Internet has empowered the Jihad too. For example ...
The Small Wars Journal thinks that the most avid users of forthcoming FabLab technology will be people from the Third World, some of whom will be terrorists. This technology, already bruited about under various names on the Internet, will allow hooked up computer controlled machine shops to produce machinery straight from a desktop design. Like an industrial version of Amazon.
A few years ago, a bunch of smart guys at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms decided to teach a new course ... called "How To Make (Almost) Anything" The instructors had developed a suite of off-the-shelf equipment that, when worked by those with a modicum of training, could enable students to quite literally make almost anything. They called it a "FabLab." The equipment and materials for one such Fablab cost around $20,000, and included such capabilities as the ability to print circuit boards, injection-mold plastic, and cut and fashion materials to exact tolerances. One of the professors, Neil Gershenfeld, went on to describe how the phenomenon played out in a book entitled FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop: From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication. Essentially, the professors were surprised to find that a large number of those interested in the course had nothing to do with traditional disciplines involved in designing and making stuff. Gershenfeld took his Fablabs on the road to a variety of settings -- a low-income neighborhood in Boston, developing areas in South Africa, Costa Rica, and India, and other places such as Norway. He discovered that with a tiny bit of instruction, even people with no engineering backgrounds were able to conceive of and create a number of devices and contraptions to enhance their lives in one way or another.
Ultimately, Gershenfeld envisions not a roomful of equipment, but a single machine that might sit on your desktop and be able to "print" complex objects in 3D. But this is far down the road and far removed from our concerns here ...
Who might be able to use such a setup? ... Seems like any of the following might have good use for a "Fablab" as described by Gershenfeld
- military engineers, such as Marine Combat Engineers or Navy Seabees
- Civil Affairs folks regular infantry and other combat units deployed to austere environments at the end of a long supply chain
- Special Operations Forces personnel who frequently have to fend for themselves in underdeveloped locales.
And of course, terrorists. Looks like the "people's war" has just gotten started. And it may be waged with weapons that nobody has yet imagined.