[Air-l] vampirefreaks et al

Jonathan Sterne jonathan.sterne at mcgill.ca
Thu Sep 14 14:00:55 PDT 2006

Hi All,

I've been on the phone with reporters on and off today and am struggling a
bit with the whole event.  Mostly, the questions are about the "impacts" of
various technologies, to which I respond that the technology with the most
impact yesterday was a gun.

But I just had a long back and forth with a reporter from the National Post
who was saying "the guy had this website, why didn't anybody do anything?"
I tried to explain the subtleties of goth subculture, darkness and all that
to no avail.  The old "most of the people on this website never do anything"
argument wasn't washing either.  My line was that the responsible people for
doing something were the people close to the shooter, whether they be online
or offline friends.  The reporter then turned it back on me and asked
whether that wasn't simply dismissing online communication as a serious

Sooooo, I'm turning the question around to you: at what point do people have
a responsibility to "intervene" in something they see online and if that
point comes, what form should their reaction take?

I write this noting that there was just a big report (I think I saw this in
the paper a day or two ago) by the Canadian anti-defamation league about the
proliferation of hate websites and governments being unable to regulate


Jonathan Sterne
Department of Art History and Communication Studies
McGill University

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