“If you got any political clue at all”
The title is an introduction by Bob Dylan during a live concert to his protest song “Hurricane”. He says: “If you got any political clue at all then you can help us get this man out of jail, back on the streets”.
A little background to this song: in 1966, the African-American boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was doubtfully convicted of an alleged triple murder for which he later proved to be innocent. The entire process was, according to a federal judge in New Jersey “based on racism rather than reason and concealment rather than disclosure”. Even nowadays, this sad story contains so many facets still understandable to me. Fact remains: Carter was deprived of his liberty for nearly 20 years…
The reason I’m touched by this story certainly has to do with Bob Dylan’s words prior to playing the song “Hurricane”. I’ve been a huge fan of him and I often listen to his live performances. The line “If you got any political clue at all” strikes a nerve. Of cóurse I have an opinion; I dó have a clue of what is happening around the world, right?
What do you think of Julian Assange, Francisco?
At the time Julian Assange was arrested, I was often asked by friends and relations “what my thoughts were on that situation?”. This was partly because he has been a speaker at Hack In The Box and everyone knows my fondness for the world of hackers. For those who have no idea who Julian Assange is: he’s a journalist, hacker and internet activist. This turned out to be the ultimate combination to get one into trouble. Assange is also the founder of Wikileaks; if you don’t know what Wikileaks is, then I recommend you google it.
My first reaction to this question is always the same: to form an opinion on Assange, I should have an opinion on Wikileaks. Now my feelings are twofold here: on the one hand it’s great there are individuals who keep us on our toes, both when it comes to news and certainly when it comes to companies, governments and individuals that might have a ‘darker’ side.
On the other hand, I fear Wikileaks endangers more than we can handle. Overall I agree with Wikileaks, because governments, in any form, always tend to empower themselves more and more when they are not counteracted. It seems almost natural behavior.
Regarding Assange’s approach: I stand in favor of it, although I would have never acted this way. For one, I’m not willing to sacrifice my life; of course this says more about me than him. The point is, he’s not stuck in England because the Americans want to talk to him (and they do). No. The Swedish police issued a warrant for his arrest in 2010 because he’s under the suspicion of raping two women.
Now if these suspicions are valid, my opinion is simply: “Send him to the U.S.A.”. Oh. But hang on a minute. What did Bob say again….? The story appears to be more complex. The warrant for his arrest was withdrawn by the Swedish chief prosecutor after a number of days only to be issued again by someone else. Meanwhile, Assange claims it’s a smear campaign. You might say: “The solution is simple: why doesn’t he go to Sweden to defend himself and prove he’s innocent?”. Although he might be acquitted in Sweden, once he does he would be sent to America straight away. And make no mistake: he would never be a free man again. So, not that simple after all.
I think it’s a tricky subject, but I still think he’s a hero. I would just be more certain if the suspicions regarding the rape case would prove to be unfounded.
But what do you think of Snowden then, Francisco?
There are no dubious suspicions regarding him, so is he your hero then? Well, I’m not sure yet. There is a difference between a journalist and someone who gets hired, only to gain access to company data and to go public with it. I question his motives: are his actions about ego and personal gain or to make a point of some kind?
There’s no discussion he did make a point. Moreover, none of his revelations surprised me one bit, which probably says a lot about his story. Because, let’s face it: everyone already knew these things take place. Apparently we all just let this happen and accept it. And whether it’s the Americans, the Chinese or the Dutch: given the opportunity, we’ll listen in on everything. It’s just that in the Netherlands we can’t. Or maybe we don’t dare to.
Personally, I believe Snowden didn’t speak up for his ego, but to make a point. So, a hero after all.
The Zeitgeist is a factor too
I think a decade from now, Assange and Snowden (and others like them) will be regarded differently by the general public. The following comparison must be placed in perspective (because I think this man is truly a hero), but Nelson Mandela wasn’t considered a hero back in the 60s. Although he was an anti-apartheid fighter in South Africa, few in the Netherlands considered him to be a hero at the time.
Of course nowadays, thanks to media we know more about things and learn about them faster. But isn’t that a danger as well? We instantly want to form an opinion on things. You almost can’t say: “I’m not sure about this”. Is it really that desirable everyone has an opinion right away? TV programs are full of ‘experts’ who state this and that. It’s quite rare however to confront them with their statements for evaluation at a later point in time. Perhaps it’s just todays fashion to have an opinion on everything.
So, why this blog post? Oftentimes I’m asked: “What do you think of cloud (SaaS) applications?“. Of course, the concept is ingenious: no more hassle with infrastructure, no worries about updates, you can work everywhere, etc. But there are also several disadvantages.
A large number of companies are able to distinguish themselves by deploying their own specific applications. Can you still distinguish yourself if you and your competitors both use the same applications? Banks have beautiful ‘portals’ to offer insights to your personal matters. I know people who have picked their bank for these reasons. But what if all banks start using the same SaaS application? What will remain for them to compete on? Exactly: prices. I don’t think you want this for your organization. Right?
And I haven’t even mentioned the power a SaaS supplier holds on an organization regarding their competitive advantage. Technology is moving forward rapidly at the moment, but occasionally suppliers make mistakes and take a wrong turn. And then what? What are the consequences for the customer? An additional disadvantage is “vendor lock “, though dismissed by suppliers. Just try to migrate your data from a true SaaS solution (I’m not talking about dropbox and your mail). I also foresee a challenge when it comes to bankruptcy. A SaaS application is a shared solution and companies do go bankrupt sometimes. What happens to your data when your SaaS vendor is going bankrupt?
I have many examples, but I think I’ve made my point. Think carefully about possible consequences. Suppliers are best at explaining why you should do something, not why you shouldn’t.