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American Diplomacy
Opinion and Editorial

October 1997

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A Bit of Boasting . . .

 Signs of Intelligent Life Out There!

by Frank Crigler

 

J o d i e   F o s t e r, the single-minded, highly unconventional astronomer in the film "Contact," relies more heavily on faith than on science in her relentless search for evidence that we human beings are not alone in the universe. But her tenacity finally pays off when Jodie detects and decodes signals proving (well, more or less . . . ) that someone out there not only is listening but is paying attention and wishing us well.

We at American Diplomacy experienced something of the thrill Jodie's movie character must have felt when we detected and decoded a signal from the Lycos internet search engine people that they had noted our presence in cyberspace, checked us out, judged us to be a superior form of net-life, and ranked our humble journal among the top five percent of all sites on the World Wide Web. For better than a year, we had been transmitting our messages into the electronic void, hoping that someone out there was reading and appreciating them. And slowly we began picking up scattered electronic responses, like bits of electromagnetic static, from places as far away as New Zealand, Zambia, and Singapore, showing there was indeed intelligent life out there with serious interest in the issues of diplomacy and security we'd treated in our first year's quarterlies. But, like Jodie, we had to depend a lot on faith and tenacity during the dry spaces between signals.

Then, like a radioactive starburst, came the message from Lycos:

Congratulations! Your sitehas been selected as one of the best sites on the Web by Lycos TOP 5%. . . . Lycos TOP 5% is the oldest and most prestigious Website directory. Since 1994, our expert reviewers have scoured the Internet to select only the finest sites, etc.

Lycos"Is it for real? If for real, is it free? If not, what's the scam?" asked Editor Henry Mattox, and frankly we weren't sure. Like Jodie's skeptical astronomer colleagues, we wondered about this lavish attention and generous honor coming suddenly out of nowhere -- were we merely being taken for a ride in cyberspace?

No, not at all. When we probed deeper, we found that somewhere out there, real human-like beings -- not mere web-running robots -- had actually taken note of our site and bothered to read some of the journal articles they found in our July 4th issue (Vol. II, No. 2). Not only that, but we found that others more familiar than we with the wonders of cyberspace placed real value on what the Lycos reviewers wrote and the ratings they assigned. So we were more than a bit pleased by their flattering description of American Diplomacy.

. . . Among the topics covered are the relationship between technology and war, and terrorism in Latin America. And a series on working in the foreign service is filled with fascinating tales of faraway places, including Shelley Mattox's charming "Adventures in a Cairo Souk," and Francis Underhill's musings on how Indonesians perceive time. . . .

Modesty prevents our saying more, but we hope our readers will place a bookmark on this page and surf briefly over to Lycos for a look the full review [which they may easily do by clicking here or on any of the Lycos award medals we've modestly arrayed along the left margin of our page]. Alternatively, perhaps they'd like to take a closer look at the earlier issues of American Diplomacy, in case they missed reading any of the articles the reviewers found so interesting [which may just as easily be done by clicking here to browse our archives].

Finally, serious movie buffs may wish to click on Jodie's photo at the top of the page for a larger version of the photo -- and, if they listen carefully, a sample of the message from outer space that has her transfixed!



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