Digilante-ism?

There has to be an answer to the current violence London and around the world. It is not going to go away in a hurry and I believe we all have a part to play in sorting it.

I have gone through various reactions recently. Apprehension after the first bombs in London mixed with fascination at people who can have such strong religious or ideological beliefs that they can override the normally strong instinct for self preservation.

I then felt resigned to more years of worrying about bombs on the underground. I have lived with the threat from the IRA for the last twenty years and you get used to it - life has to go on.

With the second set of bungled attacks my mood switched to anger and defiance - who do they think they are putting innocent lives at risk - lives from all backgrounds and "faiths" including their own.

But we can't afford to get angry. Our response to this situation matters SO much. How we react will determine whether we manage to turn things around and preserve the very fragile but immensely valuable tolerant, mixed, vibrant society we have in the British Isles, or descend into some paranoid, violent, controlled nightmare from which we struggle to emerge for years.

So what to do about it?

Let's face it all the rhetoric about war on terror is so "old world". There has to be a new way of working together to deal with this. An interconnected way, an internet way, a peaceful way.

Much has been written about how Al Qaeda work in sophisticated, networked ways and make use of the internet to build loose, non-heirarchical, and devastating capability.

Some of us bang on about the internet's power to route around damage, to bring people together and to accelerate evolution.

I personally believe that mankind has does have the ability to live together without knocking lumps off each other if we reject ideas of separation, scarcity and difference and seek to understand each other and preach tolerance.

There has to be a way of pulling all this together.

Someone once said to me of the blogosphere that you can't have this many bright people talking together with such intensity about meaningful subjects without something really incredible coming out of it. Maybe this is the time to start putting this to the test?

We have enormous energy and inventiveness going into tools like Friendster or Orkut but what if we spent less time on setting up social networking tools targeted at getting inside each other's knickers or selling drugs and more time on working out ways to create real networks, just like Al Queda are meant to have done - only this time in support of finding peace, understanding and a way of living together.

We have to engage with those people in our midst who hate us enough to blow themselves and others up. We can't fight wars with them. We can't kill them all. There has to be another way.

These are just rambling thoughts at the moment but as someone who supposedly has some modest influence in this new connected, internet world and who believes passionately in its potential to do good I have to take responsibility for building the future.

We all do.