I am truly humbled. I knew Alon Shalev was writing this novel, Oilspill dotcom, and I knew he had aspirations to one day see it published, but I kind of had my doubts about the whole project.
Don’t get me wrong. The decision by Global Energy Development Corporation to sue my girlfriend, Suzie, and her colleague, Bill, was pretty stunning. That the British judicial system didn’t see fit to provide them with legal aid is still hard to believe; and, of course, the astonishing fact that this court case went on to become the longest trial in British history, is all worthy of being recorded.
What I find humbling is the fact that the author, Alon Shalev, saw fit to make me his protagonist. Certainly my role as the web designer is significant. The fact that Oilspill dotcom was probably the first ever interactive advocacy website, that it became a conduit for the flow of information on a global level, and that it enabled Suzie and Bill to act and respond at the necessary legal level without any formal training, is all amazing, especially to geeks such as myself.
But Shalev goes a step further. He is not content with the mechanics of the Information Highway and the work our Dream Team undertook. He seems fascinated with me personally and the process I went through.
Let me be honest: Before meeting Suzie, I couldn’t have told you the names of our government’s cabinet members. I knew more about Arsenal Football Club’s reserve side than our shadow cabinet and, being in opposition meant Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, not the Conservatives, Liberals and the Green Party.
I’ll be perfectly clear (I have been asked this many times in interviews): I only got involved because I fancied Suzie (love came along, but much later) and wanted to date her. I can’t tell you at what point I became politically aware, at what point it ceased to be personal.
This reckless multinational corporation hurt many people I loved and respected. My friends became victims to a business model that cannot conceive of the pain and destruction left in its wake, the devastating effect these companies have on the individual who willingly or unwillingly gets in the way of their profit highway.
Today I remain involved: being with Suzie, how could I not? My consulting agency is selective about which clients we take on and we have an internship program where we not only mentor students, but also have them work, pro bono, on projects that advance social justice and sustainability.
Not bad for a self-absorbed yuppie who was only out to get laid, huh? Only when I read Oilspill dotcom did I ever have any idea about the transformation that I underwent. I guess for this I should thank Shalev for writing the novel and giving me the chance to become who I am.
And if my story can in any way help someone else make the changes necessary to help this embattled world of ours to be a better place, well, I am proud to have been the protagonist of Oilspill dotcom.