Virtual Uprisings

Thu, 14 Jul 1994 13:50:41 -0500

Re David Houston's speculation on netters responding electronically
to developments on the net that they don't like, I've been following
the USENET newsgroup with some fascination over the last
week. Evidently someone posted a request for info on a company called
Airhitch; several very negative evaluations, including a report of a
claim in court against them, rapidly were posted. An "aliased" supporter
began posting in reply, getting more and more vituperative in support
of the company. The upshot is, through the diligent efforts of former
disgruntled customers, a few business students specializing in airline
companies, and enthralled hackers and onlookers, the anonymous supporter
has been unmasked as the founder of Airhitch; the convoluted non-profit
status of the company behind Airhitch has been exposed; an Airhitch FAQ
is going to be made available; many people seem to be interested in siccing
the IRS onto the company because of their seemingly suspect non-profit
status; and helpful netters have re-posted the whole sordid correspondence
on to various other legal and business oriented newsgroups.
It's not exactly bringing the financial world to a screeching halt,
but netters may succeed in driving the company out of business. What
was so breathtaking about the whole affair was the speed with which
it happened; it all unfolded over the space of about three days. And for
sheer narrative drive, surprises and detective work, it sure beat reading
_The Alienist_!