The reaction of Marten Mickos, CEO of Scandinavian open source company MySQL, to the destruction of the World Trade Center is typical of how some members of the international community viewed the attack.
Mickos, who is Finnish, was about to fly home to Helsinki after a meeting at his company headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. On his way out the door, he heard employees commenting on a fire at the World Trade Center in New York and assumed they were referring “just a scenario or a joke.” At the airport, however, he fired up his laptop to make sure.
“I checked CNN at the airport. I was shocked. It touched all of us very closely,” he said. Once he was home, he said, he found a lot of subdued and informed comments about the WTC attacks on the sometimes rambunctious open source community site, Slashdot.org. “There were no wild comments,” he noted. He also went to Scandinavian new sites, the BBC and military information site Janes, all of which contributed to his understanding of what happened.
He then used both the telephone and e-mail to contact friends and relatives, particularly friends in the U.S. “If the U.S. does nothing, that would be very bad. And if it retaliates, that could be very bad also. All of Europe and even Russia believes that some firm action must be taken,” he said two days after the event. “You have our sympathies.”
Asked if the communication and community-building allowed by the Internet might reduce the risk of such an event recurring, Mickos said: “The lack of trust and understanding between people is just genetic. I dont think computers can help that very much.”