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Do all roads still lead to Rome?

Discussion in 'Serious' started by VipersGratitude, 3 Dec 2010.

  1. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    I've been trying to participate in the Wikileaks thread. However, every time I try to articulate my opinion it turns in to an entirely new topic. So, rather than derail the thread I'm starting this one. I don't expect this thread to be popular because on this topic it will be impossible to regurgitate rhetoric; In this thread you will have to actually think!

    Tools affecting the dissemination of information have had profound effects on society. Each innovation loosening the grip on knowledge held by the elites - The democratization of knowledge. Until recently these tools have all relied on hierarchical distrobution. Oral tradition, through writing systems, to the printing press have all been centralized top-down systems - The "wiseman" would pass on stories; An institution, such as a church, controlled literacy; A publisher controlled writing material.

    Now we have the internet, which changes the everything. It is not a centralized, top-down, hierarchical system...Instead it is a decentralized, bottom-up system. This technology only really became ubiquitous in the last 10 years, yet it is already decimating traditional top-down industries whose business was the dissemination of information - such as the newspaper and music industries.

    Ten years ago people were vigorously debating the merits and demerits of Napster on discussion forums; These days it is hardly ever mentioned because we have realised that the discussion is moot. Napster was replaced by countless other file-sharing outlets. - We can't stop the sharing of information unless we turn off the internet. File-sharing (or information-sharing) is an inevitability and no amount of discussion will change that. As John Gilmore quite eloquently put it "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." And this is why I haven't engaged in the Wikileaks thread. It's pointless; Wikileaks is the Napster of the day, and it is undermining government.

    My question is this - Where will it end?

    The role of government is essentially a top-down paradigm to control and maximize the means of production. The internet enables and coordination of social production, again undermining the role of government. Do you think, after the internet has time to mature, it will eventually negate the need for traditional governance just as it has negated the need for broadcast industries?

    In closing I'll leave you with a quote from John Stuart Mill

    “Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing.”

    “Such are the differences among human beings in their sources of pleasure, their susceptibilities of pain, and the operation on them of different physical and moral agencies, that unless there is a corresponding diversity in their modes of life, they neither obtain their fair share of happiness, nor grow up to the mental, moral, and aesthetic stature of which their nature is capable.”

    - On Liberty (1859)
     
  2. kenco_uk

    kenco_uk I unsuccessfully then tried again

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    The only thing I had previously associated to John Stuart Mill is the following:

    That, of his own free will, on half a pint of brandy, was particularly ill.

    Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

    On a serious note - one fairly recent example is the stalking of the woman who dropped a cat in a bin. That quite literally went up like a firework. When you have an anarchic group of people who come up with meme's galore, some pretty funny stuff and then some of the sickest images/ideas you've ever seen have a love for cats so much that their attention is diverted to a single aim of finding out where someone lives and tormenting them, it's a little worrying tbh.
     
  3. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    It will end with the individual's capability to understand and use the information.

    Information should be free. It will be nice when it is. But then you are faced with a new top-down hierarchy: those who understand the information, and thus can make good use of it, and those who don't, and therefore can't.

    Check out the computer revolution: it is us geeks who understand computer technology and therefore can really make use of it; who can hack it and tweak it and bend it to our will. The muggles just look on a bit mistified. Is that pop-up window warning you that your PC is infected real or just a clever internet spam message? Is that e-mail attachment harmless or infected? Did you really win a million dollars in that lottery you didn't know you had entered, and just how dangerous can it be to send them your name and address and bank account number? Is that nice Christian Nigerian businessman really prepared to offer you a few million to help him out?

    "Here [on the internet] there can only be lies." --Pat Cadigan

    It's not just that: patients can access the British National Formulary, the standard handbook for medication prescription in the NHS. But can they make sense of what they can read? Can people interpret statistics? Tricky.

    This does not mean that information should not be free, but don't attach too much significance to it being out there. No matter how much bandwidth it has, it still has to squeeze through the bottleneck of human understanding.
     
  4. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    Don't be short-sighted. My 70yr old father has fallen for a few of those scams. I, on the other hand, have not. The reason is that I have spent most of my life on the internet, and he has not. Every generation entering adulthood from this point onwards will have grown up with the internet, and won't be so naieve.

    Can politicians make sense of what they read? Can politicians interpret statistics? For that matter, is there any single person with a complete understanding of the BNF without refering to other reference materials? No...Just like Jimmy Wales isn't an expert on every article on Wikipedia.

    Think it through. The reason central govenment was the only practical solution is because to print and distribute information costs time and money. It simply wasnt economically viable to inform and enlighten every citizen so that they might self-actualize. Now it is. The information will still have to squeeze through the bottleneck of human understanding but unless a central government is made up of non-humans then I fail to see the validity of your argument.
     
  5. supermonkey

    supermonkey Deal with it

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    True, the internet has allowed for the widespread distribution of knowledge. You could perhaps argue that our extelligence grows as more information is posted online. However, to expand on the point Nexxo made regarding a person's capability to access, read, process, and finally understand the information provided, I would argue that the internet has also allowed for the expanded distribution of misinformation. For every document that Wikileaks posts, there will be a corresponding blog post, Facebook post, or Tweet offering a rebuttal or spin of the information.

    The internet may have democratized information, but it also democratized propaganda.

    Furthermore, as good as it may be for organizations to share as much knowledge as possible, governments also have the tools to fight back through deliberate cencorship of internet access, coordinated DDOS attacks, political pressure to stop hosting questionable or embarrassing content, or arrest of the people sharing the information.
     
  6. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    Well, obviously. Propaganda is merely a species of information.However it is infinitely more preferable to an information oligarchy. Fox news, anyone?

    Again a moot point as "the people" have that power too, and are arguably more agile and innovative than slow, bureaucratic behemoths.
     
  7. Archtronics

    Archtronics Well-Known Member

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    The centre of the systems of life is language

    essentially the internet just another system only different from others in that is more easily available so no real change.

    just my 2 cent
     
  8. zatanna

    zatanna New Member

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    going with @vipersgratitude here. the more democratized information is, the more quickly propaganda will be identified and eliminated.

    learning curve notwithstanding, more access to information means "the people" learn and adapt faster. and yes, existing power structures will be dismantled, which they will fight.
     
  9. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    Now who is being short-sighted? I only mentioned it as one example, and yes, there are even young people who were born after the Internet who barely know how to operate a PC, do mental arithmetic or read at a comprehension level above that of a twelve-year-old.

    Thing is: 75% of the population is dumber than you. The average reading age is eight. If you want to get an idea of the level of sophistication of comprehension of the majority population, read the Sun.

    The reason we have central government is because most people are too psychologically immature to regulate themselves. We didn't need Wikileaks to tell us that our government is corrupt, inept and slowly eroding our human rights. But how many people last came out to vote? How many people are actually actively involved in the community in which they live? How many people are involved in the school where their children are taught? Why does the media keep dumbing down and sell story rather than facts?

    Information may be more accessible, but nobody's reading.
     
  10. Cthippo

    Cthippo Can't mod my way out of a paper bag

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    I'm sure your grandfather was anything but naive in his day. Just as the world we live in now does not resemble the one he grew up in, when you're 70 the world will look completely different and there will be new scams we cannot now conceive of. The geeks of today will be the has-beens of tomorrow. Granted, your experience now may put you at the technological heap at the nursing home, but you too will be out of date some day.

    I foresee a backlash against the heavy handed tactics being used against wikileaks. Sooner or later it's going to click that these releases really aren't a big deal, the world is not ending, no one is getting killed because of them and then they are going to start getting pissed at the draconian nature of the response. Even some of those who may not approve of the release are likely also not approve of the response to it. The right wingers calling for Julian to be hunted down and killed (Palin) or arrested as a terrorist are really not helping their cause in the court of public opinion.
     
  11. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    Exactly. Information never changed anything. Let me repeat that: information never changed anything. Goetenberg may have invented the press and made books more available; Luther spearheaded the translation in a language ordinary people could read. Still we have the Catholic Church. Still we have fundamentalists --even though they read their Bible or Qu'ran in their native tongue. We also have had public libraries since the 1900's, and education for all so people are literate enough to use them. Has that made people wiser and more enlightened? No. People still believe in anthropomorphic authoritarian deities (as opposed to the much more sophisticated spiritual conceptualisations of 'God' that Kayinblack could tell you about), UFOs, crystal healing, conspiracy theories... Information gets used to bolster a priority beliefs such as creationism turning into intelligent design. Now the Internet has come along. Does that change anything? No. Information may be even more accessible (to those who know how) but people again just grab and propagate the snippets that bolster their a priority beliefs.

    As a clinical psychologist I am all too aware how health information programmes have failed dismally to change people's lifestyles and health behaviours. The assumption used to be that if you only tell people how unhealthy certain behaviours are, and only tell them how to live healthily, that, rational and intelligent beings that most of them are, motivated to avoid illness and extend their (quality of) life, they will use that information and act accordingly. We now know that is not true. People still smoke and drink and eat junk food and just rationalise it in some other way --if they feel the need to rationalise it at all. As Jamie Oliver found when trying to change school dinners, people are mostly emotional beings, not rational ones.

    Information alone does not change anything. Those who seek to suppress it are still living in the cold war era of the 60's and 70's, when my colleagues thought that just giving people health information would change their behaviour. It doesn't. People are way more complicated than that, take it from the guy who makes a living at it. Similarly Wikileaks is not going to make us more politically informed and empowered voters. We have to be able to understand the information, and then we have to be motivated to do something with that information. And that is a lot more tricky.
     
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  12. eddtox

    eddtox Homo Interneticus

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    Still, information is a step in the right direction. One can hardly hope to understand something without any information of said thing.


    Just like the invention (?) of currency, the information age will have far-reaching consequences, but ultimately it's role will always be that of an enabler. Information will change everything but the changes are likely to be subtle and gradual, rather than a revolutionary toppling of traditional power structures.
     
  13. sp4nky

    sp4nky BF3: Aardfrith WoT: McGubbins

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    This is very true. WHen you're looking at the subject of health inequalities - a topic that's close to my heart (and work) at the moment - you see that putting out all the information about how to live more healthily only helps those people who already want to change their lifestyle, to becoming more healthy. It doesn't touch the people who need it most, the ones killing themselves and others through alcoholism, smoking, obesity etc. so all the money that's being thrown at this idea that we can change people's behaviour, it's all being wasted. The people who want to change already have the tools to do it at their disposal and the rest won't change no matter what. It'd be better to focus the money elsewhere.
     
  14. Cthippo

    Cthippo Can't mod my way out of a paper bag

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    On the other hand, those who are able to comprehend and interpret the information are better served by having more and more accurate information. Those in the society who serve as leaders of opinion are only as good as the information they start with.

    I may expound on this later when I wake up some more. :yawn:
     
  15. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    Indeed, freedom of information is a necessary condition. But it is not sufficient.
     
  16. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    98% of the population, actually. I joined Mensa 20yrs ago. By your rationale I'm potentially more fit to govern than 637 of the current 650 MPs.

    I cannot believe you're advocating intellectual elitism, just as I cannot believe that someone of your academic background fails to see that our population's lack of engagement with society and self-empowerment is down to nurture, rather than nature.

    The reason people don't vote is because they are disenfranchised. The reason they are not actively involved in the community is because of the dog-eat-dog influence of free-market capitalism (Thatcher essentially broke the belief that community-based activism can make a difference). The reason parents are not involved in schools is because their despondency extends generationally. The reason the media dumbs things down is because it's quicker and easier to digest - a necessity when you're trying to pay a mortgage and raise two children on minimum wage.

    The reason is The Man, be he in the private or public sector, is too powerful to engage. The reason is not - People is dumb, innit?

    What are you talking about? You're middle class! The printing press essentially created the middle class. Print also enabled The Reformation, The Enlightenment, Mass Literacy and Industrialism. We could not have this conversation except for these events, all enabled by a revolutionary information distrobution system.

    People don't eat junk food because they're stupid. People eat junk food because they get dopamine rewards upon eating it. People who think they can effectively reverse thousands of years of evolution a survival imperative with a health campaign - they're the stupid ones.
     
  17. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    Anyway this thread is digressing in to one of qualification. However, I still assert that the proletariat's apathy is informed by the system they inhabit, as Zimbardo might argue ;) Given the chance I believe they would rise to the challenge

    I feel there are two economic terms that I need to explain - Rival and Nonrival goods.

    Rival good - Is something that can only be used by one person at a time. e.g. a car
    Nonrival good - Is something that can be used by many people at once. eg an mp3

    Central government was a necessity because information is required to run a country. While information is a nonrival good, until recently it had to be distributed on a rival good - paper. In the pre-digital era I would have to have secretaries type out 650 memos for 650 MPs to distribute just one memo - A laborious, costly, and time consuming process. To scale that up to the entire population and it becomes unrealistic. This is the reason central government was the only practical choice.

    Etymologically Democracy is from the Greek "Demos" and "Kratos" - "Common people" and "Rule", respectively. This is the true spirit of democracy - That the common people, you and I, should be masters of our own destiny.

    Central government was required due to the technological and economic restraints of distributing information as a rival good. This is no longer the case. Society now has the tools through which to directly govern themselves, as opposed to governing themselves through proxy.

    For all the objections so far, the dissolution of centralized power would reduce corruption. It would spell an end to back room deals, corporate lobbyism and fraternal organization affiliations.

    Discuss.
     
  18. thehippoz

    thehippoz New Member

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    probably overdose of information.. I mean look at this story on operation mincemeat

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11887115

    they used to use magicians and puppetmasters.. that's genius- nowdays they'd probably brute force the way in and wonder why it didn't work.. or throw more money at the problem

    think our fathers and their fathers were just wiser people than this generation of flapjacks.. my girl teaches- and even she says she's glad she won't be around when they get older.. I mean one of these clowns is going to be president someday.. scary thought
     
  19. Cthippo

    Cthippo Can't mod my way out of a paper bag

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    I'm trying to figure out what a test of that theory might look like.

    It's true that much of what goes on in the sphere of "politics" has very little bearing on our day to day lives and so many people feel like they have better things to do than to pay attention. There is also the reality that even in a perfectly democratic system, our individual votes and voices don't matter much, and the current system is far from perfect.


    I see it differently.

    The primary purpose of society is to protect us not from outside threats, but from ourselves. By setting and enforcing standards of behavior we control the worst and most destructive aspects of our own nature, including the inherent desire to dominate others. Tyranny is what happens when someone is given power without being held accountable.
     
  20. supermonkey

    supermonkey Deal with it

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    I wasn't suggesting that one is more preferable than the other. As you and Nexxo have pointed out, at least half the population won't know what to make of the information they find on the internet, whether it's from Wikileaks or the Westboro Baptist Church. The internet will continue to mature and raw information will continue to be available, but most people are just going to ask their chosen leader what it all means. And their chosen leader is going to tell them whatever they want to hear to help them feel safe at night.

    I was just re-reading your original post, and I caught the following bit that I admit didn't entirely register the first time:

    Why do you think the internet negated the need for broadcast industries? The music and newspaper industries were slow to adapt to the internet, but don't be surprised if they figure out how to monetize their online content, even if it means charging for access to certain articles.

    To answer the direct question: No, I don't think it will. Again, most people don't know what to do with the information they are given. Once a society reaches a certain population, you have to have some type of governance to ensure that people play nice together as much as possible, even if we exclude everyone from the left of the bell curve. For what it's worth, one of my good friends is a member of Mensa. He's also a devout conservative Baptist. Judging by the general tone of his posts, I gather that Nexxo wouldn't have much respect for him and his anthropomorphic authoritarian deities, despite his apparent brainpower.
     

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