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Rebuilding Iraq's Internet 876

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the other-side-of-war dept.
Anselm writes "According to this article at Wired.com, "The war has left Iraq's Internet infrastructure in shambles. Now, a British ISP hopes to fund the reconstruction through sales of domain names ending in .iq." While I have no use for an IQ domain, the article does make me wonder: Should geeks around the world take the lead in getting Iraq back online?"
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Rebuilding Iraq's Internet

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  • Why don't we... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:08PM (#5702974)
    Try and feed them first.
    • by missing000 (602285) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:14PM (#5703047)
      Here's an idea:
      How about we give them food, PC's, cars, etc. in exchange for oil.
      This could be facilitated through an intermediate form of exchange we could call "money".
    • Re:Why don't we... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Beatbyte (163694) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:15PM (#5703069) Homepage
      internet will help with social unrest (hobby) and will also help with businesses (puts food on small business person's table).

      i am better at giving away IT help than food ;)

      besides.. i'd imagine the red cross and the humanitarian efforts around the globe are taking care of this problem.

      • Re:Why don't we... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:31PM (#5703261) Homepage
        Actually, the humanitarian problem right now is very, very bad. Water is in short supply everywhere, hospitals don't have sufficient power, there are no medical supplies to speak of (they're giving headache pills to surgical patients instead of anaesthetic), and there's no government to maintain any kind of law and order. The Coalition's going to have to pull something together quick.

        So no, in fact, humanitarian efforts around the globe are <i>not</i> taking care of the problem.

        I'd be glad to help set up Iraq's Internet and Wireless when the time comes, but I think there are more immediate needs that have to be met right now.
        • Re:Why don't we... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Beatbyte (163694) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:51PM (#5703466) Homepage
          well, either way, the article isn't about immediate telecom/internet infrastructure reconstruction. its about future preparation for it. in the end, would you agree or disagree that:

          a> Iraqi's are better off with the internet socially
          b> Business is easier done with the internet
          c> Business puts food on tables
          d> Freedom of speech is good, and a forum for Iraqi's would be great
          e> i know your root password
          • Re:Why don't we... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MAXOMENOS (9802)
            Agreed on A and B. If you're trying to say that Internet is more likely to put food on Iraqis tables than lack of Internet, I'm really not so sure. It would certainly feed the people who work for Internet companies.

            D depends on how much control the future government will have over Internet. It could be free like Canada or highly restricted like China.

            Go ahead and post my root password. :)
        • Re:Why don't we... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by FatherOfONe (515801)
          Lets see. The war has lasted around 20 days and the regime has collapsed. This was done this with minimal civilian casualties, and very little civilian structual damage, and most importantly little coalition deaths. The former government thought it would be a great idea to mine their own waters... knowing that this would NOT stop the coalition military BUT prevent significant aid from reaching it's own people. The coalition has mentioned that it is one of their top priorities in getting aid to the people
        • Re:Why don't we... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by buffy (8100)
          Actually, the humanitarian problem right now is very, very bad. Water is in short supply everywhere, hospitals don't have sufficient power, there are no medical supplies to speak of (they're giving headache pills to surgical patients instead of anaesthetic), and there's no government to maintain any kind of law and order. The Coalition's going to have to pull something together quick.

          Ok, dude...give them a chance. They regime fell, what...yesterday? Geez.

      • i am better at giving away IT help than food ;)

        Now I know there's a stereotype about IT workers being obese, but do you have to be QUITE so obvious in reinforcing it??? ;)

    • Re:Why don't we... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by capnjack41 (560306)
      Try and feed them first.

      True, but there are non-geek groups already doing that. It wouldn't hurt helping them out a bit, getting rebuilt technologically.

      Besides, technology -> jobs -> money -> food. Hooray for more places to which the US can outsource work :-p!

      • Re:Why don't we... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by kableh (155146) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:29PM (#5703236) Homepage
        It also wouldnt hurt to FUND THEM, something we've forgotten about in Afghanistan.
    • Re:Why don't we... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:17PM (#5703102)
      I most especially love how a British firm is looking to auction off Iraqi web addresses to British and American firms. Apparently anything and everything the Iraqi's have is open to being sold off by the US and UK and is now justified as payment for their liberation.
      • Re:Why don't we... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ponty (15710)
        It's sickening! How does this help Iraq? It helps a British ISP make money/name on products enjoyed by other Western customers.

        Rebuilding Iraq's Internet? How about exploiting something that nobody else has exploited yet.
        • Re:Why don't we... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:03PM (#5703587)
          It helps a British ISP make money/name on products enjoyed by other Western customers.

          See this story in The Register: Iraq, its domain and the 'terrorist-funding' owner. [theregister.co.uk] This has a lot of background on the current owner of .iq (in jail) and what could or might happen to the TLD. It also dismisses the British ISP mentioned in Taco's lead.

          A race will soon be underway to get to Baghdad first. One IT contractor in Britain has already put together one bid for the domain, albeit laughably amateurish, but others will soon follow. While the US government has ultimate power over every aspect of the Internet and could redelegate .iq to whomever it pleased, it is very unlikely to want to be seen to be doing it. As with Afghanistan - when some suspicious paperwork suddenly saw .af transferred to the US-backed new administration - we may well see the same thing again.
      • I have first dibs on low.iq :)

        Nathan
    • Re:Why don't we... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Carbonite (183181)
      I find it rather sad that an AC has one of the few serious comments. Buying "somethinginane.iq" isn't going to help Iraq. The coalition ensuring that food shipments reach the people will help Iraq. Much of the food that was sent as part of the "Food for Oil" program ended up spoiling in warehouses guarded by Iraqi goons.
      • by gpinzone (531794) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:23PM (#5703165) Homepage Journal
        Much of the food that was sent as part of the "Food for Oil" program ended up spoiling in warehouses guarded by Iraqi goons.

        Not anymore.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:18PM (#5703110)
      Food, water, Internet pr0n.
    • Re:Why don't we... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bingo Foo (179380) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:32PM (#5703272)
      Why don't you examine your Maslow's hierarchy for a minute to see that it doesn't jibe with history or human nature.

      People would rather communicate ideas freely than eat three square meals a day. This is true from the streets of Mosul to your Mountain Dew fueled 36-hour LAN parties.

      The food will come, but don't discount the importance of providing channels for truly free (as in libre) communication. Liberty is not a luxury to be had on top of material subsistence, it is the foundation that allows people to make their own subsistence.

      • "Why don't you examine your Maslow's hierarchy for a minute to see that it doesn't jibe with history or human nature.

        People would rather communicate ideas freely than eat three square meals a day."

        OK, Maslow's is all about NEEDS, and you're using the phrase "WOULD RATHER". It has nothing to do with preference.

        You're missing the whole point of Maslow's Hierarchy. You don't need the higher levels until you satisfy the needs beneath it.

        1. The lowest level is physiological needs. This means oxygen, food,
    • Re:Why don't we... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iabervon (1971)
      Network infrastructure will help in keeping track of where the people who need food are and where the food they need is. It's not like you can walk up to the Iraqi border and drop the food there. Getting the food together is actually the easy part; the hard part is getting each individual's food to them, which is an huge problem in routing.

      For that matter, the Iraqi food supply is holding up reasonably well, because people stored enough food. The problems are medicine and clean water, and also the safety o
    • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:36PM (#5703323) Journal

      Okay, good post, but I think it would be good for us to rebuild their communications infrastructure as soon as possible since our stated goal is to bring democracy to the Iraqi people. It's sounding more and more like Iraq will be ruled temporarily by an American viceroy until "things settle down". This is quite likely to piss off a lot of Iraqis and make them feel like they are being ignored and don't have a voice. I think making sure they have a communications network that lets the average Iraqi let his voice be heard would at least make them feel good. We can argue all we want about whether that will actually make any difference, but I would argue that it would be a huge morale boost for the Iraqi people to feel like their opinions are being heard by someone -- for the first time ever.

      Yes, I did read the article and, yes, I do realize that selling .iq domain names doesn't automatically ensure that Iraq will have a viable internet. What I'm saying is that I think building up the ability for average Iraqis to communicate on a grand scale with one another will really open their eyes to the possibilities of what this new era can bring for them. Since Iraq has no experience with democracy, they really have little idea what Bush is talking about when he claims that this is some new glorious era for them. All they know right now is that they are thrilled to be rid of Saddam. But that excitement won't last and when they see American troops in their country six months from now with no sign of leaving anytime soon. We need to give them some indication that progress is being made and that Iraqis DO have a voice in what's going on. Building up good internet access for all would have significant psychological benefits for this very wounded country.

      GMD

    • Why don't we... (Score:3, Insightful)

      and then let them build it themselves.

      the iraqis are intelligent, educated, and there are 4 million expatriates living in the UK, US, and throughout europe.

      and they're sitting on the world's second largest reserves of oil.

      all they've been lacking is a little good government and that seems about to change.

      if they can govern themselves, they can feed themselves, and build their own infrastructure.

    • "Why don't we...Try and feed them first."

      There's a massive effort underway to get them fed already. The problem is that food and water are not the only things they need. They also need access to information. They've spent the last several years watching Iraqi gov't controlled TV. Wouldn't it be a nice break for them to have access to Al Jazeera, CNN, and other views of the news world?

      I guess my point is that you can't just focus on one detail. The rebuilding of Iraq needs work on multiple fronts. One
  • Alright! (Score:5, Funny)

    by freeze128 (544774) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:09PM (#5702986)
    Who wants to be the first to have www.high.iq?
  • I wonder... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Da Fokka (94074) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:09PM (#5702995) Homepage
    Is the Tar.iq domain already claimed? I want to set up a fan site :P
  • The problem is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KDan (90353) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:10PM (#5703003) Homepage
    There's only so many funny domains you can make that end in IQ, cause there's only so many pun sentences with IQ in them... And even if you multiply them all by $15 I doubt that's enough to make a difference to Iraq's internet infrastructure (it's a big country). Probably one single oil well will (literally) drown this tiny contribution - and they have many.

    Daniel
  • yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by phil-is-math (602835) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:10PM (#5703004)
    Yes, I would like to play counter-strike against them.
  • by TopShelf (92521) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:10PM (#5703006) Homepage Journal
    I think they could use safe water, power, infrastructure, etc. before www.cnn.iq!
    • by Anonymous Struct (660658) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:15PM (#5703062)
      They can buy all of those things on ebay once they all have broadband, right?
    • by Skreech (131543)
      While your statement is dramatic, it's also illogical. Of course there are people working on these important utilities. But in order to get things done as quickly as possible, many people are working on as many things as possible. Food, water, and electricity are not going to be "forgotten." I'm sure that the work going into getting the internet infrastructure back up in Iraq isn't work that has been taken away from getting other necessary utilities running. Those engineers would probably be twiddling their
  • Come one (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joshuah (82679) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:11PM (#5703011)
    Boo freakady who. Iraq has so many other problems right now. Why dont geeks send MONEY, FOOD to local companies like CARE that help the people of Iraq. By providing food, 100% of the people can use it. how many iraq's have a computer much less have ever been online? Yeah, in a year or two from now, when people are feed and they are dying for disesases, then worry abou rebuilding the internet systems...
    • knowledge is power (Score:5, Insightful)

      by e2d2 (115622) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:22PM (#5703147)
      No one said they should spend the money they receive for food and health instead on Internet access. They simply want to build the Internet infrastructure in Iraq into something that can be used by the masses. I would say freedom of information coincides quite nicely with the coalitions effort to build Iraq into a land free people. Pulling these people out of the knowldege embargo imposed by Saddam Hussein and his regime will help freedom survive in an area of the world that is known for it's denial of free information to citizens. Knowledge _IS_ power. When Iraqi citizens can get equal acess to information they can see other side of the coin, instead of the state controlled side only. Why do you think so many totalitarian governments want to control the Internet access to their countries (CHINA)? So it does coincide with the freedom initiative quite well.

      Besides you have to start the plans now to rebuild if you want to get it done later. This type of rebuilding is going to last a lifetime and take a tremendous amount of planning and effort.

      • by jefu (53450) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:07PM (#5703643) Homepage Journal
        Clearly things like food, water, medical support, electricity need to be the top priority.

        But I'd say that access to information and freedom of speech/press are also essential parts of a healthy democratic society - and I'd even suggest that the lack of such is usually a major factor in the survival of totalitarian regimes. It is not coincidence that early symptoms of a government in the process of becoming fascist include restrictions on what people can say and to whom, the construction of an information monitoring infrastructure to spy on what people are thinking, and increasing numbers of things (rules, groups and the like) which are maintained as secrets.

        Selling ".iq" domain names though is just a transparent way for some company with no other products worth selling to make a quick buck or three.

        Somehow though, seeing things like the Patriot Act and Patriot II, I doubt that the current administration has any more interest in supporting free speech in Iraq than they do in the US.

        <personal-odd-note>
        I suggested rather a while back that it might be an interesting alternative to war to find an effective way to increase free speech in Iraq (and Afghanistan) by building and distributing simple/cheap internet access devices along with a robust network and sufficient encryption to foil attempts by the totalitarian governments to block/intercept communications. Undoubtedly a completely crazy notion. But I look at what must be done to produce and maintain a stable democratic government and believe that education and freedom of speech are surely essentials. So I wonder if its probably not more effective to try to make a totalitarian regime difficult to maintain (or to build) than to need to destroy it afterwards. (Isn't it generally cheaper to provide vaccinations than to have to cure a disease?)
        </personal-odd-note>

      • I would say freedom of information coincides quite nicely with the coalitions effort to build Iraq into a land free people.

        I would remind everyone that freedom of information existed long before the Internet.
    • Re:Come one (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Xerithane (13482) <xerithane@nerdfa ... g minus language> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:26PM (#5703201) Homepage Journal
      Boo freakady who. Iraq has so many other problems right now. Why dont geeks send MONEY, FOOD to local companies like CARE that help the people of Iraq. By providing food, 100% of the people can use it. how many iraq's have a computer much less have ever been online? Yeah, in a year or two from now, when people are feed and they are dying for disesases, then worry abou rebuilding the internet systems...

      I'm sorry, but an ISP is not geared towards providing humanitarian aid. They are geared towards providing internet access. Is it a priority? Not really. Is it something for them to expand their market capital? Yup. Is it still a good thing? Yup.

      They are a business, that is doing business things, in a business world, to enhance their business. This is like getting upset that Microsoft is not going to send all of their resources and money for food and aid.

      Businesses make money. That's what they do. In fact, it's almost the very definition of "business." All the threads saying that it's not a priority, you are right. This isn't about a priority. This is about a business venture.
    • Re:Come one (Score:5, Funny)

      by AndroidCat (229562) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:26PM (#5703205) Homepage
      how many iraq's have a computer

      Well, from the pictures of the looting, a lot more than a couple days ago.

  • GeekCorps (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AbdullahHaydar (147260) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:11PM (#5703016) Homepage
    Geeks should definitely get involved and they should do it through GeekCorps [geekcorps.org] since that works through the PeaceCorps and international organizations.
    • Re:GeekCorps (Score:3, Informative)

      I had dinner with Ethan Zuckerman, GeekCorps' founder, a couple weeks ago. He explained to me during a discussion of another underdeveloped region that GeekCorps was aimed primarily at places with almost nothing - places like Ghana and Mongolia that for-profit companies would not touch.

      Iraq has an internet infrastructure, a modern economy... There's money to be made there, and they are hardly backwater. They're not really GeekCorps territory at all, so don't expect to see them there.

  • First things first (Score:5, Insightful)

    by igaborf (69869) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:13PM (#5703032)
    Should geeks around the world take the lead in getting Iraq back online?

    Yes, because, God knows, getting on the 'Net is every Iraqi's first priority at the moment.

  • by cmburns69 (169686) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:13PM (#5703037) Homepage Journal
    How does this help the Iraqi people? All this does is give the rest of the world more domain space, while not giving Iraq the full value of their "property".

    Why couldn't it be an Iraqi company that sells the domains? This would allow the country to keep all of the proceeds, instead of only getting some of the value.

    I'm not against the UK, the US, France or anybody, but I think this might be one area where this company is being opportunistic.

    An online Starcraft RPG? Only at [netnexus.com]
    In soviet Russia, all your us are belong to base!
  • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Evil Adrian (253301) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:13PM (#5703040) Homepage
    I thought Halliburton had a lucrative contract to do this too?
  • by u19925 (613350) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:16PM (#5703083)
    i went to war to "liberate" iraqis, and all I got was this lousy.iq
  • Won't work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LowneWulf (210110) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:16PM (#5703086)
    Doesn't rebuilding the Internet in Iraq require other critical resources first?

    You know.... like ELECTRICITY?

    Seriously, this is pathetic! Basically some company trying to profit off selling country code domain names to sites not in the country, while there's still too much chaos for anyone inside the country to take notice!
    • Re:Won't work (Score:4, Informative)

      by Skyshadow (508) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:32PM (#5703271) Homepage
      I think it's a mistake to take a short-term view when talking about rebuilding a country.

      There are obvious short-term needs which must be met, such as food and water. This is a no-brainer. The difficult part to rebuilding a country is taking advantage of the fact that you're essentially creating from whole cloth, and thus have the opportunity to either do things very right or completely cock it up.

      Therefore, this is the time to talk about rebuilding Iraq's internet, especially given that the sort of freedom allowed by the internet could conceivably be an effective force for continued liberty in that country.

      Iraq is a potentially wealthy country; I'd like to see that used for good things (net) rather than bad (weapons, oppression of its people, enriching Dick Cheney's friends, etc).

  • by Otter (3800) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:17PM (#5703091) Journal
    the article does make me wonder: Should geeks around the world take the lead in getting Iraq back online?

    You're asking one of two questions:

    Q) "I'm planning to do something to help rebuild Iraq's communications. Is that a good idea?"

    A)That's great! Bless you!

    Q) "Should "we" / "the community" / hackers / geeks do something to help rebuild Iraq's communications?"

    A) Uhhh, sure. Go open a Sourceforge project.

    Re: .iq domains -- I can see high.iq and low.iq going, and probably sex.iq. I suspect oil is going to continue to drive their economy, though.

  • by JoeBuck (7947) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:22PM (#5703148) Homepage

    If people in the US and the UK value their lives, they will resist the impulse to try to turn Iraq into a colony that is run for corporate profit. (And yes, that's what this is, even though these guys are masquerading as a charity: they intend to take a cut from selling the "high.iq" domain). Iraq's domain namespace belongs to the Iraqi people, not to a clever British IT consultancy. Similarly, the decision as to whether to deploy GSM or CDMA belongs to the future Iraqi government, not to a congressman in the pocket of Qualcomm [internetnews.com]. Next, we'll see a bunch of Midwestern farmers clamor to get the government to buy up their grain and dump it on Iraq, thereby setting back efforts to rebuild Iraqi agriculture (which employs far more Iraqis than the oil industry does).

    We're now at a tipping point: we can either insist that Iraq be run in the interest of Iraqis, or we can allow it to be taken over by a bunch of cronies and lobbyists. If the latter happens, we'll generate so much hate that it will be unsafe for Americans and Brits to travel abroad.

  • The .iq TLD.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by molo (94384) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:23PM (#5703170) Journal
    The .iq TLD should belong to the people of Iraq. They should have the final say as to who gets access to it. Selling it off like .tv and .cx today would basicly mean that this ISP is taking advantage of these people because their government is in shambles. Shame on them.

    -molo
  • Let them do it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gclef (96311) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:23PM (#5703171)
    Why should "geeks around the world" take the lead on this? Why shouldn't we let the Iraqis do this? Granted, the present owner is having issues...one of the technical contacts for .iq is presently being held by the feds for contact with Hamas, but I really think that this would be better handled by the Iraqis themselves.
    If they want help, we should absolutely offer it, but I don't like the implied statement of "Let's take this thing of the Iraqis, make something that we think is cool out of it, and then claim we're helping them with it."
  • by peterdaly (123554) <petedaly@ix. n e t c o m.com> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:26PM (#5703200)
    Would make for great datacenters. Does any other place in the world have a higher density of nuclear resistant underground bunkers?

    I am sure the US bunker buster bombs didn't get them all.

    -Pete
  • by aengblom (123492) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:32PM (#5703266) Homepage
    FOOD/ELECTRICITY FIRST!

    Well, duh. But Iraq is no third or fourth world country. This is a fairly rich country with a pretty educated work force. Do they need Internet first? No, but will internet infastructure improve life? YES.

    Internet access is very much like phone lines. It's not just for leisure anymore-it moves information REALLY efficiently.

    Anyone who suggests otherwise should get their heads out of the 90s.
  • by Phoenix (2762) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:35PM (#5703303)
    I'm quite sure that people are aware of the fact that damn near all of the Iraqi infrastructure is pretty well hosed.

    We're not that dumb.

    Instead of pissing and moaning about a company that seems to be acting like vultures circling over roadkill, perhaps consider the possibility that they might be looking into the long term?

    Yes the Iraqi people need food and water, that's a given. Yes they need stable power before the 'net can be rebuilt (that qualifies as a "no shit Sherlock"). But these are short term goals. If you want stability in the area you need to build (or in this case help build) a stable government and you need an economic foundation.

    It's a wonderful thing that SoDamn Insane is either dead or so far in hiding that they have to import sunlight. It's the greatest thing in the Iraqi world since sliced bread that the regime is falling down under the "Rolling Victory" of the US/UK troops. It's a blessed thing that food, water and other humanitarian aid is starting to trickle in as areas get cleared out.

    But without some way to build an economy, then it's all for naught. The Iraqi love us now. If we left them as a bombed out huck of a country then the attitude would change, they would hate us and we would probally end up once again with another warlord like Saddam and more terrorist acts against us.

    Frankly I'd like to think that by helping them re-build and to become a player in the global economy (for which the internet is a damn handy tool), then the goodwill for the US/UK will grow and we'll have another ally in the middle east.

    Or did you think that we'd just go over there, blow a whole lot of shit up for fun and oil profits then bugger back home in time for the summer trips to Disney World?

    Phoenix
  • by Call Me Black Cloud (616282) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:42PM (#5703370)
    I mean, really.

    First of all, the war is not over. Yet.

    Second, what the hell kind of question is Should geeks around the world take the lead in getting Iraq back online? "Take the lead"? Yeah, let's all go to Home Depot and pick up spools of cat5e cable and get on one of those "human shield" buses that aren't needed [capmag.com] any longer and get to stringing. Not only are there many other priorities as others have pointed out but more likely than not you're calling on people that don't do volunteer work in their own communities to do some unspecified good deeds far far away.

    You don't need to ask slashdot if there are things to be done. If you want to help, then help, but you're asking the wrong people. You need to ask the Iraqis what they want and need (see above link on human shields). Perhaps you can contact the Iraqi Forum for Democracy [iraqifd.org] or take a look at iraqipages.com [iraqipages.com] for other contacts. If you are of a mind to do good works, help in your local community [pointsoflight.org], which probably needs it since international attention is not focused on it and there are no lucrative contracts to be had.

    I'm not knocking your willingness to help. I think it's great. I think posting here is barking up the wrong tree though. Perhaps you can find out what really needs to be done and make a page for others to visit and contribute what they can.
  • by forgetmenot (467513) <atsjewellNO@SPAMonebox.com> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:43PM (#5703391) Homepage
    I don't understand the sentiment of posters who complain that this is a dumb idea because they need help with food/water first, etc... blah.

    The best way to help the Iraqi's is to contribute whatever you can the best you can. If you're a skilled IT professional who can donate time to help rebuild their IT infrastructure.. GREAT! Why should anybody be complaining about that?

    Sure they need food. But there are PLENTY of agencies that can help with that and if you can donate some money to that cause, wonderful. It shouldn't stop you from contributing your niche knowledge too.

    When it comes to hands on skill I'll bet the vast majority of the /. readers wouldn't be able to physically help deliver meal packets or dig wells (ay least not as ably as the Red Cross or United Way could), so why not do something else that you CAN do?

    As a community the readership does have a skill in a particular industry and to suggest that the Iraqis won't need that kind of help because of other problems is nonsense. The sooner everyone does what they can according to their abilities the sooner we'll all be better off.

  • damn people! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ender Ryan (79406) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:44PM (#5703400) Journal
    Why is it that every other post is some self-righteous tirade about how Iraq has so many other problems right now that people shouldn't be concerned about things like this.

    Sure, they need food and safe water first, but there is a future in Iraq that people can think and talk about. There's already huge aid packages being put together.

    Iraq needs an economy in order to become self-sufficient. Things like this ARE going to be important. Let's try to make Iraq into a prosperous country.

    • Sure, they need food and safe water first, but there is a future in Iraq that people can think and talk about. There's already huge aid packages being put together.

      Sort of like driving your SUV to the WalMart to buy cheap shit made by sweated labor while talking on a cell phone to your therapist about the American Dream? Don't impose your cultural values on them. That is the worst kind of imperialism. But wait, we kicked their ass so they better buy in to the plan....
    • Re:damn people! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JoeBuck (7947)

      So how does turning over their national domain to a British IT consulting firm contribute to the rebuilding of Iraq?

  • by Joey7F (307495) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:59PM (#5703535) Homepage Journal
    I have seen too many people making references to Iraq by appending other country's values to it. So read this from the CIA

    http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ iz.html [slashdot.org]

    It has information like literacy rates, religions, etc. I was surprised by a few things, for example, I thought all Iraqis were Arabs, but it turns out there are a fair amount of Turks, Assyrians etc.

    I hope they can become a shining example of democracy in a region that is dominated by dictators.

    After all, Italy, Germany and Japan have it pretty well now!

    --Joey

  • by Gray (5042) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:03PM (#5703591)
    Just last night I was listening to the shopping list of problems at Baghdad hospitals right now and thought to myself "well, I'm no help with that, but if they've got IT problems, I'd go help."

    I realize there are far bigger issues in the conflict, and the world; but as another poster said, I'm a lot better at fixing technology then at fixing people or giving away food.

    I'm not sure if there really is a requirement for an IT Peace Corp, but it's a nice idea. Post-war nerd squad to setup communications infrastructure. Internet, TV, radio, cell phones, we can do all that stuff.

    Geeks Without Borders. Attractive idea.
  • by Znonymous Coward (615009) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:12PM (#5703691) Journal
    From the office of Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf (aka Baghdad Bob):

    "Republican guards have secured in Iraqi Internet services!"

    More at 11.
  • stumbling blocks ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Combuchan (123208) <sean AT emvis DOT net> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:16PM (#5703722) Homepage
    I think before CITRI plants their flag in Baghdad, they might want to consider the fact that somebody already owns the .iq root server [iana.org].

    From linked page:

    Sponsoring Organization:

    Alani Corp.
    c/o InfoCom
    630 International Parkway
    Richardson, Texas 75081
    United States

    I'll pass up expected comment about Texans owning a chunk of Iraq... </troll>
  • Priorities (Score:5, Informative)

    by 90XDoubleSide (522791) <ninetyxdoubleside@nOSPaM.hailmail.net> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:38PM (#5703940)
    Should geeks around the world take the lead in getting Iraq back online?

    Absolutely, but not before giving at least a small contribution to the World Food Programme [wfp.org], which is in desperate need of funds to combat starvation in both Iraq and sub-Saharan Africa at the same time. Then there will be enough people alive to use the internet!

  • doomed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ralphclark (11346) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:54PM (#5704101) Journal
    This embarrassing project is doomed to fail for two very obvious reasons:

    1) Very few (non-Iraqi) people or organizations will want a domain name visibly associated with an ignoble war, death and destruction, and a long-term dictatorship.

    2) Very few people (and I include the members of Mensa which are mentioned as an example in CITRI's web page) will want a domain name that broadcasts how proud they are of their ability to pass standard intelligence tests. You see it's just not cool to be clever. Not that way, anyway.

    I suspect the only takers - at a knock-down price - will be the tasteless owners of shoddy porn, gambling and con-merchant websites. And spammers great and small.
  • by Dagmar d'Surreal (5939) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @03:08PM (#5704257) Journal
    This is absolutely disgusting. These people are clearly taking advantage of someone else's (Iraq's) misfortune to try and make a buck. This group does not already control the .iq domain, but they know that if they can steal it, it'll be like having a licence to print money. Absolutely nothing is being said on their website about how much of this money they're collecting would actually be going to Iraq, and frankly, I suspect that "paying big salaries at Citri" will somehow also be considered to be an important part of the general welfare of Iraq's IT infrastructure.

    Let's see, there's also the small matter of it's not necessarily the desire of the Iraqi people that their domain space be sold off to people outside Iraq. For all we know, they could want a more conservative approach to be taken with it, and have it only be allowed for use by companies and organizations that reside within Iraq.

    From their web page:

    "The auction is set to continue over an intense two month period, after which funds will be called upon from the winners of each bid, and registrations formalised."

    Translation:
    s/auction/looting/;

    "In the case that a registration is not successful, no funds will be charged, unless the individual wishes to make a donation to the fund."

    Translation:
    "If the piles of money offered for domains doesn't change the minds of the people in the IANA and get us Iraq's domain, then you won't be out a penny."

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