Sedona, Arizona, USA
By David Sunfellow
Thursday, January 13, 2000
THE BOMB THAT DIDN'T BLOW UP (SO FAR ANYWAY)
While it is still too early to know how much trouble the Y2K bug will ultimately cause, it is clear now that it won't live up to it's notorious reputation. Indeed, many of those who warned the world was headed for serious trouble (including yours truly), have now publicly admitted they were wrong: Y2K not only caused fewer problems than expected, but it seems unlikely that our global infrastructure will suffer any major outages in the near or distant future because of it.
Does this mean there weren't any problems?
If you've been gathering your information from the mass media, which has done a suspiciously poor job of reporting on Y2K failures, you would probably think NOTHING happened. That, of course, is not the case. For while nuclear missiles and power plants didn't blow up, there have, and continue to be, plenty of Y2K fireworks. I encourage you to visit the following links to find out what has been happening behind the scenes:
Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC):
Y2K Glitch Central:
Center for Y2K & Society: Y2K Problem Reports:
Michael Hyatt's Glitch List:
International Disaster Information Network:
Y2K International Watch:
Bug Bite 2000:
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING?
We published our first story on Y2K in June of 1996 (NHNE News Brief 18, June 28, 1996). A year later, we published our second story (NHNE News Brief 64, June 6, 1997). And, finally, in the summer of 1998, after repeatedly dismissing the problem for over two years, we stopped everything else we were doing and dove headlong into all aspects of Y2K: we published lengthy special reports, created a popular Y2K website, launched a weekly Y2K Report, began organizing our local community (and encouraging others to do the same), and helped produce the nation's one and only national grassroots community preparedness survey. I even managed to get invited to participate (via written testimony) in the U.S. Senate's Community Preparedness Hearings on Y2K.
All these efforts (and others like them) have been faithfully recorded on our Y2K-related websites:
The NHNE Y2K Report:
The Sedona Y2K Task Force:
The Nation's First Y2K Grassroots Community Preparedness Survey:
The NHNE Y2K Mailing List:
But so what? Wasn't Y2K much ado about nothing?
Now that numerous trigger dates have come and gone without causing any serious national or global damage; and now that we are two weeks into the new millennium with only minor glitches continuing to be reported, many people are wondering what happened?
Personally, I don't know.
What I do know is that my personal expectations were wrong (Y2K has not turned out to be as bad as I expected) and I need to take another look at how, and why, I misjudged the situation. (See "NHNE Y2K VisionQuest: Part One", <http://www.nhne.com/y2kreport/specialreports/srvq1.html>, for more discussion on how my/our biases distort our perceptions.)
On the other hand, I can't shake the feeling that my time has been well spent. For while Y2K didn't cause humanity, as a whole, to reevaluate the faulty ideas and practices that are endangering our species and terrorizing our planet, it did provide the vehicle by which many of us who are concerned about such things to gather together.
I have often thought about how South Africa rounded up the opponents of apartheid and threw them in prison together. The South African government did this, of course, expecting to silence the voices that challenged the oppression in their society. What happened instead was that all these folks had a chance to compare notes, build friendships, and remerge a more potent force than ever. In the end, apartheid was abandoned and the nation of South Africa is now ruled by the people were once locked away. Perhaps Y2K has provided many of us, who are normally constrained to the outer edges of society, a chance to create a more potent force for change than would have otherwise been possible.
Y2K also unleashed another chain of unexpected events: countries, corporations, small businesses, and individuals, all over the world, pooled their knowledge and resources to cope with what was perceived to be a common threat. In many cases this meant that people who are normally competitors, enemies, or rivals, set aside their differences and focused on the common good. Indeed, while the mainstream media has been trumpeting Y2K as the greatest hoax of the century, history will probably remember it as the first time in human history where the entire planet joined together, in a spirit of true cooperation, to deal with a common concern.
Not bad for a bug that didn't do what it was expected to do. And not bad for us either, to have played a significant part in helping humankind build stronger, deeper connections.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
At this point in the Y2K game, there are a lot of loose ends to tie up. We still don't know, for instance, if the Y2K bugs that remain will cause widespread, serious disruptions. We're still not sure why things went so smoothly. We also don't know how many failures have been kept a secret. Twenty years from now, will you and I be reading stories about how close our world actually came to a meltdown?
More important than wrestling with computer bugs though, it seems important to spend some time reflecting on what Y2K has meant to us while things are still fresh in our lives and memory:
What did we learn, as individuals and as a group?
What mistakes did we make?
What would we do differently if confronted with another problem like Y2K?
How have our core beliefs been affected by Y2K? Do we still trust ourselves? Our guidance? The guidance of others?
How can we use the relationships and networks we've built through Y2K to create a better world?
How does Y2K, and the other grave problems our planet presently faces, fit into the grand scheme of things? Where are we headed, in other words, and what are the roads we need to walk to get there in one piece?
To help us explore these issues, I've created a website to serve as a database for some of the best, most thought-provoking and inspiring commentaries on Y2K. I have included excerpts from some of the material on this new website with this report. I think you will be impressed with the depth, breadth, and heartfelt soul-searching that is reflected in many of these excerpts.
And now I want to hear from you.
I'm expecting some of you will have things to share that you would like to have posted on the new website, while others of you will want to keep your sharing private. Just let me know which camp you fall into when you write and it will be my pleasure to honor it.
Those of you who have something to share with the world, will need to include your name and where you live on planet Earth (city, state, province, country). I would also like to include your email address (and website if you have one), so those who are interested can write you, but a contact address is not required.
In either case (whether you've got something to share with the world, or simply share with me), please send your letters to:
Because NHNE has spent so much time on Y2K, I am also very interested in knowing how you felt I/we handled this situation. Were we fair, even-handed, balanced? Or did we go overboard? Were you inspired, informed, and empowered? Or did you feel like we took you on a wild goose chase? Let us know. Your feedback, as always, is very important.
Finally, if you are interested in discussing the issues raised by the many thoughtful comments on the Y2K AfterThoughts website, you are invited to join The Y2K AfterThoughts Mailing List. This list is composed of people who wish to build stronger bonds with one another while, at the same time, deepening their understanding of the true nature of Y2K.
To subscribe to The Y2K AfterThoughts Mailing List,
send a blank mesage to:
And that's it for now.
This has been quite a ride for me and, I know, for many of you. It will be good to compare notes and then move on, with greater knowledge, wisdom and experience, to the next adventure...
With Love & Best Wishes,