Saturday, June 02, 2007
Anti-nuclear activists have started circulating an email alert (rather, an alert in the footer of every email they send) asking people to get a (they suggest) WordPress or MySpace blog and start blogging as a way to stop nuclear power. I see some good signs here.
First, a WordPress blog in its externally-hosted form is a technical challenge for people who aren't familiar with servers, and in its free form is not powerful enough to be effective in an actual campaign. You can't even change the HTML code. MySpace, however, is a joke. There's no point trying to use it; once you get past being a joke of a movement, you have to disassemble everything you did and start over on a real platform.
We didn't make that mistake, at least not that badly. Blogger, for all its faults, is extensible. And most importantly, we made our mistakes a while ago and are starting to recover while they dig themselves a hole. They don't know that it's easier to have a tech-savvy organization set up a community that activists can join than to try to make everything work together after six or seven incompatible systems are entrenched. It seems also that anti-nuclear pages are either sophisticated ASP jobs or hacks, with nothing in between; an anti-nuclear activist who is trying to do a good job faces an almost square learning curve with almost no help from their colleagues. They are forced to cut corners and further decrease compatibility (and thus interoperability--which is the whole point).
Second, they honestly think that NEI pays everyone off, and that we're all NEI employees. Wrong. They simply, honestly, and truly do not understand that there is a difference between the industry and the supporters of the technology. That leads them to think we aren't distributed and can be beaten easily by five or six dedicated people.
Third, they concentrate on RSS. Go chase RSS, guys. Nobody uses it. It's useful only as an aggregation tool for people with nothing else to do and when it is converted to an email alert system.
Fourth, they acknowledge that the anti-nuclear movement doesn't do blogging. The first three dedicated, sustained pro-nuclear blogs (NEI, Atomic Insights, and NIOF) started in a short period in 2005. Others came along later; a second wave came along in 2006 (Freedom for Fission, We Support Lee, Energy from Thorium, and ARDT), and a third wave came along in late 2006 to early 2007 (Pebble Bed Reactor, Idaho Samizdat, Left Atomics, Nuclear Australia, NNadir). I like the fact that that number is going up with each wave (and diversifying), and NIOF is working on making it easier for people to get started--and get started in an organization.
I don't see the anti-nuclear activists, who are new to this and learn tech more slowly, getting there any faster than we did. Accordingly, I (conservatively) conclude that the anti-nuclear activists are two years behind us.
We have a window, and we have to do something with it. This little smell of blood shouldn't lead us to believe that they're dead, but should inspire us to work even harder to kick their butts and make sure they don't get up again. We must do this by removing their base of support; using the internet's core competencies (as the UNIX-HATERS Handbook says of computers, "nitpickers with elephantine memories") as a tool (not a strategy) to accelerate the process of organizing college campuses. It is clear that to do that, we need a Nuclear Advocates' Declaration of Principles (or something else similar to the Port Huron Declaration; if nothing else, to put our opinions in writing to immunize us from allegations that we're being bought off), a web-based community platform, and an internal handbook that we can keep out of anti-nuclear activists' hands until they have their own equivalent (i.e., something we can keep close to our chest for two or three years). NIOF is actively working on the second part, after which we'll obviously do the third part, but pro-nuclear activists will need to call a conference to do the first part.
In short: they're a threat, but a foreseen threat. We know what timeline, roughly, they will be operating on. Our application of game theory to proliferation--and their disdain for doing so--helps us. We know exactly what to do to prevent this threat from materializing. We can do it, and I know we will. We must. Too much is at stake, environmentally and on a public health level, for us to not do anything about it, or to fail to do what we know we can do and operate at the high level we know we can operate at.
Get up and do something!