NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Rumours take a backseat

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Rumours take a backseat

You'll have to excuse me, but somehow it does not feel appropriate to write a normal column this week. If you don't mind, rumours, gossip and humour must take a backseat for the moment.

As it happens, my deadline fell on the day after we all sat glued to the TV for hours, so you can appreciate that as I write this, I share with you a sense of loss and outrage over what happened. If you lost someone, I offer sincere sympathies.

We all have stories to tell from where we were when news of the terrorist attack filtered through. I was on a trip to the East Coast and landed in Boston at approximately 8:30am - around the same time the hijackers boarded their planes. In downtown Boston, as in many US cities, you could feel a sense of panic in the gridlocked streets.

So now, aside from trying to comprehend such a horrific tragedy, I hope you will allow me to share a few impressions I feel worth noting because I believe we must now move forward.

First-rate reporting

First, occasionally we all exercise our right to free speech and criticise the media, but as one of "them", I've got to say the live reporting we witnessed was remarkable in the face of crisis. It seems that endless hours of meaningless coverage of trashy scandals in this country has proved a worthwhile training ground.

Second, we are seeing that the Internet can handle a crisis of this magnitude; after all, it was built to withstand military attack. And companies such as CNN now understand what it takes to scale Web sites to cope with unprecedented traffic demands.

Meanwhile, kudos to the folks at eBay after reports surfaced last week that there were attempts to sell World Trade Centre memorabilia, including building debris. The auctioneer would have none of that. Shame on those who tried to profit from such things.

Next, the concept of IT security is now more real than ever before. Although recent events demonstrated the frightening capabilities of physical terrorist attacks, every day sees the world becoming more reliant on technology. The disaster plans set in place by the stock markets serve as a good example of the kind of precautions we need to take.

Meanwhile, an obvious word of warning for people marketing and selling security solutions. Do not offer cheap pitches on security and disaster-recovery solutions or else - like Network Solutions, whose credit card scams still dominate my e-mail - public humiliation will be yours.

Finally, I can't help but wonder if perhaps the most powerful reaction to an act of war endured by a nation "under God" could be one of some forgiveness. Is it possible that we could not retaliate with equal or greater acts of war?

Until next week, when we get back to business, send your thoughts and tips to

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