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Important Y2K-Breakthrough Articles

(There are many more articles than this on this site, but I consider these the most important, overall. -- Tom Atlee)

See also scenario articles below and
note the lists provided elsewhere of Y2K articles about
community, the environment (and sustainability),
food and agriculture, media issues, the deeper meaning of Y2K

(!!) The Year 2000: Social Chaos or Social Transformation by John L. Petersen, Margaret Wheatley, and Myron Kellner-Rogers. A powerful, well-referenced description of why Y2K is serious and what collaborative approaches we might take in dealing with it.

(!!) What I most want to communicate about Y2K by Tom Atlee explains how Y2K arises out of a deep cultural flaw that generates most of our social problems and makes them very difficult to solve. It is a flaw that we can correct.

(!!) All Together Now: The "Y2K Neighborhood" takes on the "Millennium Computer Bomb" by Larry Shook. This article is as emotionally compelling and inspiring as the Petersen/Wheatley/Rogers piece is convincing and visionary. This is what it feels like on the inside, to wake up to the reality of Y2K. Shook explores how the media has missed this remarkable story of human challenge and human healing that is unfolding in our communities. Also see Media, The Millennium Bug & The Stories We Tell in which Larry tells the stories he couldn't put in "All Together Now" -- and explains why he couldn't.

How to Think about Y2K -- for those who realize it is going to be a pretty big deal and who've always wanted a better world by Tom Atlee. Because the structures of "business-as-usual" will probably be seriously interrupted by Y2K, there is an opportunity to "move the rudder" of our civilization towards community, resilience, justice and sustainability. This article outlines why and how this can be done. Another similar vision is provided by Thomas Greco in Sustainability, Y2K, and the New World Order. A specific vision for a specific town, that aligns with this analysis, can be found in Protecting Ithaca from Computer Chaos by Paul Glover. In Y2K and Our Big Bet, Larry Shook provides exciting evidence that we can establish decentralized, sustainable agriculture and energy systems throughout the U.S., if we just decide to do it in time. Also Let's Use Y2K as a Doorway to Resilience and Renewal by Tom Atlee.

Why the Year 2000 Problem is an Environmental Issue by Tom Atlee. A broad overview of a dozen major opportunities and dangers that Y2K presents to the environmental and sustainability movements (as well as all the rest of us!). Also see the rivetting Challenge to the Environmental Movement by Jim Lord, with Tom Atlee's comments. Many more environmental/sustainability articles can be found on the Y2K Environmental/Sustainability materials index, particularly the extensive Year 2000 Problem and Sustainability essay. Let's Use Y2K as a Doorway to Resilience and Renewal by Tom Atlee. Adventures in a permaculture site provide insights into the nature of resilience and how to build it in communities facing Y2K. Also Y2K, Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power (from the Nation magazine) warns us that Y2K could trigger nuclear accidents.

(!!)The Y2K Nightmare by Robert Sam Anson. The best short history of Y2K that we've seen,published in the January 1999 Vanity Fair (if the link at the beginning of this sentence doesn't work, try this). Anson tells how major efforts to establish 4-digit-year standards almost 30 years ago were scuttled by the Department of Defense who, with the most computers, would have had to pay more than anyone else to upgrade their code. This is not a matter for blame; it is a problem with the system. This history should give us pause. How many catastrophes do we have to create before we realize that short-term bottom-line thinking cannot sustain us?

Synergistic Mitigation and Contingency Preparation
by Harlan Smith. Most Y2K resources are being spent on remediation; a few on community preparedness. The former cannot be completed in time and the latter will be useless when Y2K strikes unless minimal support systems ("austere infrastructure" for food, water, etc.) are in place. We need to define what those systems are and focus remediation efforts on them. This is a vital, urgent job for governmental leadership.

Dealing With The Year 2000 Problem: The International Compliant Community Initiative by Steve Davis. A suggested framework for a National Public/Private Year 2000 Partnership approach to minimizing the impact of the year 2000 problem. This is presented now in draft form for comment and discussion. The part of the program concerning the role of local government, written for local government officials, is explained in greater detail in Davis' What Local Government Should be Doing about the Year 2000 Problem.
Eight Steps to U.S. Y2K Food Security: An Open Letter to President Clinton by Carla Emery. In this letter Emery, who has been telling people how to get back to nature since the '70's, offers a detailed and do-able plan to prepare for Y2k and reduce starvation and panic.

Your unique role in addressing Y2K by Tom Atlee. With Y2K, interconnectedness is both the problem and the solution. Find out how your connections and capabilities are the key to addessing this issue.

Finding each other in hard times by Cynthia Beal. This is a time to realize that vitality and hope reside in our connections to each other in our communities. Our success will lie in expanding our self interest so far, and in preparing our communities so well, that everything goes so smoothly that we look foolish to have thought there might be problems. We will be left with nothing but real community.

The Hidden Side(s) of Y2K, by Jim Seymour (from PC Magazine, February 10, 1998). A mind-boggling mia culpa straight from the heart of the computer industry, followed by Y2K v. 2: Time for Triage (June 30) -- an insider's view of the excruciating process of Y2K triage in corporate offices around the world.

Y2K Movement Analysis and Recommendations by Laurence Victor. This book-length manuscript describes what it would take to midwife a new, sustainable post-Y2K civilization that is prepared for more collective challenges in the coming century (such as radical global climate change). Victor poses the need for personal and group learning and co-evolution, as well as task-orientation. He includes deep theoretical material as well as extensive programmatic recommendations. A must-read for activists. Also read Larry's Community Preparedness: Phase One, an excellent brainstorming list of outreach activities a local Y2K group could do. The Challenge of Nurturing Self-Organized Y2K Responses is Tom Atlee's analysis of the dynamics used by the Y2K movement to organize itself.

A call for a progressive Y2K Agenda (in progress) by Tom Atlee. Liberals and progressives have a vested interest in how the Y2K crisis unfolds. Very good or very bad things might happen. This article describes those dynamics and how they play out in each of more than a dozen progressive issues -- from sustainability to feminism, from workers' rights to spirituality. (See also The social/ environmental implications of Y2K by David La Chapelle and Y2KO:  the Year 2000 Computer Crash -- Knock Out for Industrial Society Or Merely a Global Depression? by Mark Robinowitz - a strong progressive introduction to Y2K, unique in its description of environmental disaster possibilities and what could be done to prevent them. Includes links and quotes.)

The Real Year 2000 Crisis by Michael Maynard. We are as afraid as the people 1000 years ago, but our fear has a different source. There are serious questions we need to ask about what computers have done to our lives, our relationships, our communities. The fact that these questions are being asked here by a computer professional makes them all the more compelling.

Government's Role in Reducing "Year 2000" Risks by Leon A. Kappelman, Jerry L. Johnson and Kathy Rosmond. This excellent article lists eight specific steps governments can do, and describes the sorts of problems that may crop up in fourteen critical areas -- justice, electric power, emergency response, etc. -- and what the agencies responsible for these areas need to attend to.

Is this Y2K problem for real? compiled by Tom Atlee to overcome skepticism by presenting a convincing set of authoritative quotes, fully-referenced research evidence, and real life stories to make the case that we should all be taking Y2K seriously. I hope this raw data will be useful in creating materials to organize local community meetings and to engage community leaders and government officials. [Much in the original article may be dated and can be updated from theWild2K site, our favorite.]

Why Are Year/2000 Projects so Difficult and Risky by Ed Yourdon. An absolute must-read article by Ed Yourdon, providing an indispensable lens through which to view the cheery "everything is right on schedule" pronouncements of Y2K project managers and media hacks.

On Why We Need Y2K Lifeboats by Rev. Dacia Reid. A Unitarian sermon about the role of Y2K in our collective lives. It provides a very accessible introduction to Y2K and community preparedness. Also see Is Heaven Y2K Compliant? a Rosh Hashanah commentary Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement; A United Methodist Perspective on Y2K by Ezra Earl Jones; New Age Perspectives on Y2K;

Y2K Karuna (Compassion) by Karuna Thal. Using one's spirituality to move from fear to compassion to creative action and preparation. For explorations of the nonviolence and self-defense during Y2K, read The Life and Death Clarity of Y2K by Laura-Lea Cannon.

Why Community-Based Responses Make More Sense than Survivalism by Tom Atlee. The title says it all. Also see the detailed analysis of Y2K's impact on intentional communities, The Transformational Dance Between Communities and Y2K by Tom Atlee.

Fear and Empowerment Work by Tom Atlee. People can be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the Y2K threat, making action difficult. Methods exist to address these emotional issues.

Personal stories of deepening and transformation in response to Y2K by Ed Alpern, David LaChappelle, Rick Cowles. Moving stories of how wise individuals came to realize -- often through spiritual deepening -- that they needed to work with their communities instead of just seeking a survivalist solution for themselves.

The Year 2000 Problem, a Critical Survey by Mason Mulholland, with links to others. What makes Y2K more than just a computer problem? You'll find vivid, accessible answers here. This is the introduction I used for months to introduce my friends to the problem.

Interdependence: Our potential strength and current weakness by Robert Theobald. Technological and economic interconnectedness are what make us so Y2K-vulnerable. Community interconnectedness can make us more resilient. (This is only one of a number of good articles by Theobald you'll find on this site.)

Routine that became a meltdown by Sue Ashton Davies. This article in The Australian describes how 12 programmers worked for 9 months making the computers at one of Australia's largest manufacturers Y2K compliant. Then they set the dates forward, and started up the programs. Within minutes 750 programs crashed. Had this happened in real time, instead of in a test, it would have thrown the company into bankruptcy. It gives one pause to extrapolate this to all the companies who won't have completed their testing by the end of 1999.....

Andrew Tobias on Y2K. Two articles from the popular financial advisor, including his list of preparations.

For a further list of significant articles, see Rev. Dacia Reid's site.

Scenario articles

The Year 2000: Who will do what and when will they do it? by Douglass Carmichael. A sophisticated look at what could happen, under a variety of conditions, sketched out by an experienced, high-level scenario-spinner. From his scenarios, he derives a set of recommendations and some Y2K-breakthrough issues we need to wrestle with. You can request Doug Carmichael's insightful, free Y2K weekly news-and-thinkletter by email.

For a specific vision of how a specific town could make it through Y2K towards sustainability, see Protecting Ithaca from Computer Chaos by Paul Glover.

Several papers by Dennis Grabow, including a paper concerning the potential shifting of wealth to the less developed countries as a result of the impacts of Y2K.

Millennium Tragedy in Urbanville: A Report Highlighting the Impact of the Year 2000 Crisis and Its Effect on Public Safety with Greater Urbanville" is a hypothetical Y2K scenario written by Martyn Emery It is "written" in February of 2001 looking back at what happening and analyzing how the impacts of Y2K could have been minimized.

The economic impact of Y2K by Steve Davis. A calendar of future events to alert us to what might be possible. Although it doesn't go very far into actual effects on people's lives, it does give a relatively sober (and sobering) picture that will speak to business people and government officials.
SF Bay 2000 User Group Awareness information page. Their list of articles and links includes a whole section on scenarios (under "S")

Ian Hugo, Assistant Director of British Y2K group TASKFORCE 2000, has believes 10 percent of all failures have already happened; 60 percent of failures will occur in1999; and only 30 percent will occur in 2000. A "big danger zone" is April 1999, the time when many organizations begin budgeting and scheduling for 2000." Computingnet News

Best Case Scenario by Stefan Stackhouse. A sobering picture of ecomonic and political disruptions.

Ready for Chaos or Community? by Sharif Abdullah. Three very plausible scanarios of what could transpire on Jan. 1, 2000. The third is very inspiring.


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