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The Firewall in the Mind (Slide 3) What's a firewall?

I've been asked how I came up with the title to my talk and what it meant exactly. One question is, what is a firewall? OK, a firewall is a bit of software that checks what's coming into your computer and filters out anything that might be undesirable. A business might set one up to protect sensitive data on its network from being accessed by unauthorized users, for example. So it's a barrier to data getting through to parts of the network

That's the computer connection in the title, but the wall I actually had in mind was the one in Berlin. I was fortunate, and I think I can use the word 'fortunate' to refer to an opportunity taken while it was still possible to experience it ... I was 'fortunate' to visit Berlin while the wall divided the city and to travel under it by day and over it on the last S-Bahn out just before midnight one evening, and to see firsthand what an impact it had made on the people of that city, on both sides of the wall. I easily made friends in East Berlin who took me to a night club where the young people there tried to convince me that the wall was necessary and an improvement on the situation before when so many of their fellow citizens were slipping away to the west and being therefore lost to the communist experiment which was clearly the way forward as they saw it. I was even more fortunate to have visited Berlin again in 1989 and to walk freely where the wall had been back and forth from the east to the west side. Although the wall was gone, there emerged an expression in German, a reference to 'the wall in the mind', to describe how some people were not able to break out of the mindset of distinctly east and west German ways of doing things. In other words, though the wall was no longer there, many were accused to behaving as if it were still there and, as far as they were concerned, always would be.

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Last updated: May 23, 2001 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0