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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek technology

DECEMBER 17, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 50

From the Web
A Digital Demonstration

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Multinational corporations are using the Internet to create a borderless economy, to operate unhindered by national frontiers. Well, two can play at that game. Or rather 50,000 can. That's how many people hit the streets of Seattle to protest against the World Trade Organization. And they used the Internet's global reach to fight the corporate vision of globalization.

With similar protests carried out as far away as London and Manila, the events of Nov. 30 were probably the first globally-organized digi-demo. For the last year activists have been building a mini-web of information, setting up sites online and signing off e-mails "see you in Seattle." The hub of the effort was www.seattlewto.org, which carried news alongside a handy protest planner so everyone could come and join the fun. That site is not to be confused with www.wtoseattle.org, the conference organizer's site last seen complaining about "illegal attempts to knock us off the Internet." Throughout the conference, thousands of protesters logged onto official WTO sites in an attempt to crash their servers.

Around the world other groups joined the fray, from mainstream activists, such as the Penang-based Third World Network (www.twnside.org.sg), to fringe elements like the Berkeley, California-based civil disobedience body The Ruckus Society (www.ruckus.org). Anarchists hatched plans in a surprisingly organized fashion on www.anarchy.org while the so-called electrohippies logged on to www.greennet.org.uk and got ready to "Reclaim the Streets" of London. Grassroots media center www.indymedia.org covered it all from the barricades, where Seattle-based www.historylink.org also placed webcams while it exulted in the city reclaiming its Vietnam-era mantle as the Pacific Northwest's protest central.

Proving that the keyboard is mightier than a brick through Starbucks' window was (r)(tm)ark, whose pixel-perfect parody of www.wto.org (still online at www.rtmark.com/wto) irked WTO chief Mike Moore so much he issued a press release condemning it. No surprise there, (r)(tm)ark are professional pranksters whose fake George W. Bush site prodded the U.S. presidential hopeful into blurting "there ought to be limits on freedom." Anyone who tuned into the WTO site's dreary webcast of over 130 officials taking turns on the podium might agree with that one.

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