The key to adjusting to changes within one's big picture is to understand the important connections from the various points within the image.
In most competitions, there is always an exchange of point/counterpoint.
Every strategic move has a counter move. The understanding of the big picture always enables the consummate strategist to create a countermeasure (on time and on budget) that causes a strategic impact with a long time line and a minimum use of his/her resources.
The following story is a good example of disruptive technology that causes social-economic havoc. (This is a favorite topic in our virtual office.) The opposition immediately counter the disruptive technology with a countermeasure.
S.F. techie helps stir Iranian protestsMatthew B. Stannard, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
6-16) 20:52 PDT -- Little about Austin Heap's first online venture, a site hosting free episodes of the cartoon "South Park," suggested he would one day use his computer skills to challenge a government.
But for the past few days, Heap, an IT director in San Francisco, has been on the virtual front lines of the crisis in Iran, helping people there protest the presidential election, which opponents of the incumbent regime maintain was fraudulent.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets since Saturday, organizing and sharing news on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The Iranian government, in response, has blocked those sites, along with mobile phone service and other communications tools./
But Iran has the highest number of bloggers per capita in the world, said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University, and they were undeterred. "People used Twitter, and people used their cell phones and used all kinds of mechanisms."
Heap, 25, has never followed Iranian news much. But as reports of the election began dominating Twitter - but not, he believed, American mainstream news - Heap felt the same defiant frustration that led him in the past to butt heads with the music and movie industry associations by creating file-sharing sites.
"I believe in free information," he said Tuesday. "And I especially have no room for a tyrannical regime shutting up a whole population. I was 13 and able to take on a huge company like Comedy Central from my bedroom. With a computer, everybody has the power to do that."
Proxy server a weapon
Heap's weapon in the past few days was the proxy server, a computer configured to act as an intermediary between a computer user and the Internet. Such servers have many legitimate functions, such as speeding response times, and some illegitimate ones, such as helping spammers hide their identities.
What interested Heap was the use of a proxy server to bypass censorship. Properly configured, a proxy server could identify Web surfers in Iran and route them to Twitter and other sites the government had restricted.
People around the world were posting network addresses for such proxies on Twitter and elsewhere, Heap said, but there was no organization and the servers were unpredictable.
Simple first effort
Heap's first effort was simple: a list of working proxy servers that he published Sunday afternoon. Almost immediately, those servers began to vanish. Perhaps spammers or pornographers, who constantly cruise the Internet looking for open proxies, were overwhelming the system, he thought.
It was only later that Iranians on Twitter warned Heap - and others publishing lists of open proxies - that by posting public lists they were exposing those proxies to attack.
"I really didn't expect their government to be this on top of it," he said. "I know everybody knows about Twitter. But I didn't think it was going to be to this extent."
So Heap took another tack, creating a password-protected list of proxy servers and giving only a handful of people access to each, reducing the possibility of a widespread attack. On his blog, he published simple instructions for configuring proxy servers.
Heap wasn't the only techie setting up or promulgating proxies, but his easy-to-follow instructions quickly spread through Twitter and the blogosphere.
/* That is a good example of our API (Assess, Position and Implement) process. Heap assessed the grand picture, positioned himself with a plan and then a tool and finally implements his tool. After a while, the competitor assessed the grand picture and counters his move. Heap adjusts by repeating the API cycle.
Suddenly, people were sending him addresses for new proxy servers in Australia, Japan and Mexico. Traffic on his blog grew from a couple of dozen unique users a day to more than 100,000 in 24 hours. A woman in Canada asked him for help getting her Iranian family back online.
On Twitter, a Tehran resident posted: "@austinheap Thank you for all you are doing to help my people. This support and kindness will never be forgotten."
'Almost made me cry'
"Most of the reactions from Iran have almost made me cry," he said. "Having somebody tell me that their family thanks me - that's the power of the Internet."
The last 24 hours have been less fun, Heap said. He's had to figure out which of the professed Iranians contacting him he can trust and which might be seeking access to a proxy service to shut it down.
Monday night, his site came under a denial-of-service attack - a flood of phantom file requests from the United Kingdom designed to bring his system to its knees. Tuesday morning he received his first e-mailed threats.
Still, he thinks he's doing the right thing.
"If I can help them get their message out and help them tell the story and step back, that's my job," he said. "(But) my mom is terrified right now."
By mid-Tuesday, Iran appeared to be blocking all non-encrypted Internet traffic, making the 1,600 new proxy-server addresses now in his in-box temporarily useless. But Heap was working with other professionals and companies seeking new ways to reconnect.
"I haven't been in the middle of an outpouring like this, ever. And it makes me incredibly proud of the IT community," he said.
While it's not clear how much impact Heap's efforts are having, history may look back on his tweets about proxy servers as a profound moment in political evolution, said Stanford's Milani.
"The regime probably doesn't recognize it, but I can tell you, the marriage of civil disobedience with the social networking savvy is the death of despotism in these places," he said. "If you combine these two, you have a very potent force."E-mail Matthew B. Stannard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle#