Conferencing is serious business.

Businesses love to save money, which seems logical enough. Especially in large corporations such as Cisco Systems, a huge amount is spent on flights for representatives to meet other representatives in different countries. Not only is this expensive, it’s not a fantastic solution to helping nature. However, the annual costs have slowly decreased thanks to technology. This technlology in particular is the webcam, allowing people to talk with each other in the comfort of their own computer screen. Video conferences have quickly replaced the traditional face-to-face meeting, because they are accessible anywhere. One problem that does come up is the lack of human emotion, which is apparently taken away when speaking in front of a monitor. How is this problem solved? Make it look like the conference is all happening in the same room!

Using a panoramic view, three webcams record and display on three different screens. This allows an extremely wide view so a whole room can be shown in one shot. Even better, the recieving end sees the screens on the other end of a circular table. This gives, somewhat, the illusion than everybody is sitting at the same table. It also allows far more people to talk with each other while remaining on-screen at all times. It looks very impressive and is surprisingly effective in the way it functions, especially with its high video and sound quality. It’s a great way to have a debate over WikiLeaks (which Wikimedia would kindly like to remind you is not associated with).

Once we connected with the opposing team (which I shall call Team Anti-WikiLeaks), I was surprised about how quickly we began the debate. Our side (Team Pro-WikiLeaks) started first, with Nabsuh listing out a few points to begin with. We expected some counter-arguments, but Team Anti responded with a presentation they had prepared beforehand.1 They were basically introducing all of the events that were worth debating over. While we had one speaker to represent us at first, everybody on their side explained a few slides. I suppose we should have undertaken that job as the first ones to speak.

However, Team Pro was ready to take on the opposition’s arguments. They had mentioned the release of a 39 minute video involving helicopters gunning down some armed ‘insurgents’ in Iraq. They explained that releasing this information may be harmful the the United States, even if they gunners were laughing at death. However, they were sneaky enough to leave out the fact that those killed were, in fact, a group of journalists carrying cameras. I confirmed this with Nabsuh, which quickly ended that agument from Team Anti.

The next big topic was the release of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s Yahoo! Mail account, and its contents. The main intenion was to reveal some spiteful comments from this intelligent woman‘s messages. Although this was successful, Team Anti argued about other emails having nothing to do with the 2008 presidential election, including family pictures. However, WikiLeaks was not the first to recieve the information. The contents were first posted on the forum 4chan, before WikiLeaks took advantage of them.

Team Pro argued that even if WikiLeaks did post the information themselves, the emails had already been leaked beforehand. It even sends a message about how easy it is to obtain the contents of an email account, without any true hacking skills. The so-called “hacker” passed Palin’s password recovery system by answering simple questions about her birth-date and education. This quickly lead into the laws of the Internet, or the lack of them. We stated that, perhaps, nothing should be censored or removed from the Web.

Even child pornography? Team Anti left us speechless on that comment, mainly because it was so unexpected. Team Pro repsonded by mentioning that there are no laws on the Web, but other people can still act upon your crimes. Websites are allowed to enforce their own rules and every moderator will quickly act upon CP. Does that mean all cheese pizza is not truly illegal online? You can try, but your government won’t be very happy. Even the person first responsible for Palin’s email details was arrested from national governmental law.

The debate kept moving back and forth between laws online and in different countries. The argument ultimately discussed the relations between what is shown online and how it should be acted upon. It was difficult to defend a website that keeps breaking laws in most countries, especially from their informants. However, we all secretly agreed that WikiLeaks was doing a good job against the governments who were keeping secrets from us. Their current head may be under a manhunt from multiple countries, but even Team Anti thought he was doing a good thing.

Does that mean we won? Of course we did.

1 I noticed that their layout was strangely similar to Wikipedia’s information on the topic.

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