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Systems Assurance Institute to hold April 4 seminar
Systems Assurance Institute to hold April 4 seminarApril 01, 2003Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Joan Deppa, associate professor in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, will speak on “Ducking the Duct Tape: How to Create Distrust with Good Intentions” during an April 4 seminar sponsored by the Systems Assurance Institute. The seminar runs from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 395 of Newhouse II, and is open to the University community.
When the first Orange Alert was issued on Feb. 7, no instructions accompanied it. Three days later government officials held a press briefing on precautions the public should take in the event of a terrorist attack with chemical, biological or radiological weapons. The suggestions were not new–they had been included in a little-publicized document issued by FEMA shortly before Christmas. Most of the advice applied to other kinds of disasters including weather emergencies, but one idea was new to Americans: Buy duct tape and plastic sheeting to create a “safe room.”
“This suggestion for a do-it-yourself engineering project was well intended, but produced more laughter than action and more distrust than confidence,” says Deppa. During the presentation, she will address questions such as “How did the communications strategy undermine the effort to help Americans learn to defend themselves against weapons of mass destruction?” “Why did news organizations–and late night comedians–see this as a joke rather than a serious answer?” and “Should duct tape and plastic sheeting be seen as a practical response in scientific terms? If it is, why haven’t scientists and engineers stepped forward to address the subject?”