Conspiracy Theories (2/1/2001)
This week on NetCafé, we'll show you several web information sites that are examples of how anyone can start a conspiracy theory because the Internet provides an open and free forum for these theories to proliferate.
4consipiracytheories.com on the website 4anything.com is a perfect place to begin searching for conspiracy theories online. 4anything.com is a search engine that allows you to find all kinds of rumors that circulate about current events, political figures and Hollywood stars. Mark Langsfeld talks about the popular conspiracy subjects you can find on his site such as the JFK assassination, Elvis, Tupac, Princess Di, TWA 800, WACO, Clinton and Papa Smurf the communist.
Then, a San Francisco Chronicle religious journalist discusses the spiritual interpretations that surrounded the Y2K bug. Don Lattin explains how, for extreme Christians, Y2K was a symbol of the apocalypse in the book of revelations. He also discusses the various theories regarding Digital Doomsday and the Internet as the antichrist. Lattin says many different kinds of religions, from Christianity to New Age look for a breakdown in society so that something bigger can emerge and technology can become a substitution for that breakdown.
And if the mainstream media is not covering enough news from the fringes of society, then two web sites will make sure the public is aware of these revolutionary ideas. Srini Kumar works with disinfo.com that actually combats disinformation by presenting optional information such as position papers with radical political views that incite people into action. Kumar's other site is unamerican.com where he makes as much of a political impact on society as a guy in an apartment can. His goal is to let people know how they can use the political system to their benefit. Also on this site are posters, stickers and t-shirts that sell the truth in 10 words or less.
Often, conspiracy theories are actually urban legends and David Emery specializes in exposing these legends as the folklore guide on about.com. Emery defines an urban legend as a story about one person that is heard from a friend of a friend and also conveys a moral message. He says these stories reveals our deepest fears that we are often afraid to talk about and uses the legend about a man whose kidneys are stolen to show how we are afraid of strangers and trusting people we do not know.
Finally, UFOs and Aliens are perfect subject matter for any conspiracy theorist. Joe Firmage expresses his theories about extra-terrestrial beings visiting Earth on his site, thewordistruth.org. Michael Fitzgerald is a journalist from zdnews.net who has covered the website and Joe Firmage. Fitzgerald explains Firmage's background starting a software company and his current endeavors publishing ideas that beings from out-of-space have given us technologies such as the transistor. Fitzgerald says Firmage's philosophy is that we are in a period of evolutionary change that will see us come to huge leaps in understanding of physical sciences, our historical role, religion and laws of gravity.
Net Cafe was the world's most widely distributed television series covering the Internet revolution during the height of the dot com boom. The series was broadcast throughout the United States and in more than one hundred other countries for six years, from 1996 through 2002. It was hosted by Stewart Cheifet, Jane Wither, and Andrew deVries.
The weekly program went behind the scenes of the World Wide Web to meet the people and explore the culture of the new "wired" generation. The series featured Internet tips, a guide to the best web sites, a preview of internet startups, and interviews with the movers and shakers behind the Internet phenomenon. It introduced many new web sites to the public which are now household names such as Yahoo!, Google, and eBay.
The series has been recognized for its journalistic excellence, winning a variety of prestigious broadcast awards. It was produced on location at various internet cafes around the Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Stewart Cheifet has been called “the original TV techie” and “the dean of television computer journalists”. He pioneered the field over twenty years ago when he created and launched the award winning public television series “Computer Chronicles”.
He served as host and managing editor of “Computer Chronicles”. He also anchored another public television series devoted to the people, culture and business of the Internet, called “Net Café”. Both series were broadcast nationally and throughout the world in over 100 countries.
Stewart has been a guest commentator on technology for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and he hosted a weekly web-radio talk show called “Talking about this Week”, produced by About.com in association with Broadcast.com. He also wrote and anchored a syndicated radio series about the Internet, “CyberTraffic Report”.
He has been a commentator, anchor, and emcee at many major technology events including Comdex TV News, the Computer Museum’s Computer Bowl, Discover Magazine’s Technology Awards, Upside’s Showcase, Upside’s Digital Living Room, Windows Magazine’s Win-100 Awards, and the Codie Awards for the Software Publishers Association and the Software Information Industry Association.
He frequently appears as a moderator and speaker at corporate events in the technology field, having worked with such companies as Acer, AutoDesk, Bay Networks, Boeing, Cable & Wireless, Commerce One, Hewlett Packard, IBM, KPMG, NetSuite, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Sybase, and others.
Stewart was formerly a correspondent for the PBS “Nightly Business Report” covering high-tech in the Silicon Valley and the Pacific Rim. He has worked in various capacities for ABC News and CBS News in major locations around the world, including New York, Los Angeles, London, and Paris. He served as President of PCTV, a company focused on media and technology and was also CEO of WITF, a diversified broadcasting and media company. He was also a Director at the Internet Archive, responsible for all audio and video content.
He has won numerous awards for his broadcast journalism work, including twelve awards from the Computer Press Association (CPA) and the CPA award for Best Individual Technology Television Program of the year. He was named by AdWeek magazine as one of the five most influential broadcast journalists in the field of technology.
Stewart wrote the foreword for the recently released book “Tech Trending”, published by John Wiley & Sons. Has also written for publications such as Windows Magazine, PC Magazine, Silicon Valley Magazine, Apprise Magazine, and Digital Video Magazine.
He is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in mathematics and psychology. He also holds a doctorate in law from Harvard University and he was a Benton Fellow in technology journalism at the University of Chicago.