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Do all roads still lead to Rome?

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

  1. Pookeyhead

    Pookeyhead It's big, and it's clever.

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    Nexxo had a good point I felt.

    It's all very well having a democratised, bottom up hierarchy of information... but...

    According to a survey by the Office for National Statistics (2010),

    98% of people with an income over £41,600 had used the internet.

    The rate of Internet use decreased in line with income: 69% of adults with an income of less than £10,399 had used the Internet”,
    and perhaps more startling, “45% of adults without any formal qualifications had used the Internet, compared with 97% of those with a degree.”


    These are 2010 statistics!.


    I teach on a HE under graduate course, with a mix of students from 50 to 19. The 19 year olds are often just as clueless about IT as the 50 year olds. I'm not joking. We have all assumed that because we on here intuitively use technology, that we all do. Not so. It's also a myth that it's an age barrier, a lie perpetrated by people like Marc Prensky and his ludicrous digital natives theory.

    Also, don't let that first statistic fool you either... as bad as it looks, it's actually misleading, because out of the 98% of high earning, educated people who have used the net, the stats are measuring only that: Use of the net. Not how knowledgeable they are... merely it's USE. Even that 98% are probably giving their bank details to Nigerian Christian Businessmen :)

    It stall makes a valid point though: That until the ability to access the information is equal, a bottom up model will still be hierarchical, but based instead on one's means to access this "free for all" information.

    The problem is schools. Teachers who know barely enough to operate a Promethean board, and have no passion for IT are teaching the subject. I sometimes think the worst teachers are those who's passion is teaching, not the subject they teach.


    Anyway.... the problem with the bottom up, free info thing is......

    You'll just create an information divide, and apparently, also a class divide if you look at the stats. In other words... you'll be back where you started :)
     
    Last edited: 5 Dec 2010
  2. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    Although I tend to take Mensa's tests of cognitive ability with a little salt (I also used to be a neuropsychologist), basically yes, you may be more suited than most MPs (check politics; does most of it strike you as the acts of rational, wise and insightful people?). Although it is important to keep in mind that Sarah Palin and George Bush notwithstanding they are a self-selecting sample of relatively bright people also.

    Says the man who joined Mensa! It is (and I will be saying this a lot) More Complicated Than That.

    To put it as simply as possible: the majority of humans are not that bright. This brightness, incidentally, is not easily defined or measured and is not necessarily about intellect, but like love, we all sort of know it when we see it. Peoples psychological maturity, their emotional intelligence, is in part --but only in part-- associated with their cognitive ability --you need Theory of Mind to empathise, for instance. But it is also related in arguably more significant ways to the emotional intelligence of their parents and how they were raised --think attachment. Peoples social skills and engagement (and empowerment) are related to their attachment orientation. Peoples moral reasoning is associated with all of the above --you need reasoning and empathy and a sense of social engagement to make sound moral judgements. Now cognitive ability is partly a product of nature -you are born with a certain range of ability which is why some people are referred to as gifted, and it is nurture that either maximises that range or does its best to pound it into submission. Emotional intelligence, social intelligence and moral reasoning follow suit.

    The most important cultural factors are language (the words you use determine the way you think) and tribal bonding (which includes religion, customs, roles deemed valued or appropriate and concepts of society), but environmental variables like abundance or scarcity of food, stability or the four horsemen (war, famine, plague, death), social inclusion or marginalization/deprivation also play a role.

    That is as much of an oversimplification as you accuse me of making. "The Man" is an end product of the essentially childlike human wish for instant fulfilment. Whether it is a light switch, running water from a tap or a TV remote-- we are driven to create for ourselves a magical world that will fulfil our needs instantly, like our mom used to do when we were infants. To an extent we've never wanted to move on from that. Commercial business makes a living from promising to fulfil those child-wishes (or do we really need a car that does 120mph? Do we really need HDTV? Do we really need 50mbps broadband and 3Ghz CPUs to browse the net? Do we really need 2Tb of HDD filled with thousands of MP3s?); politicians get voted in by promising to be our Big Daddy who will make it all alright. The less mature people are, the more they fall for that wish. To blame one woman (Thatcher) for the breakdown of society is to blame one man (Hitler) for Nazi Germany. The truth, as we know, is More Complicated Than That.

    What are you talking about? The Chinese invented print before us (between the 4th and 7th century AD; movable type in the 11th century; inexpensive printed books became widely available during the Song (960-1279) dynasty) and never experienced such things. I guess it is a bit More Complicated Than That...
    Sorry: more reductionist thinking. See the above. It is a bit More Complicated Than That. People eat junk food because it's all that is accessible --because it is all that is affordable, it's all they've ever known, it's the norm in their social environment, it fills a hungry tummy and with its garish, childish tastes comforts a deprived soul that has no access to other comforts.
     
    Last edited: 5 Dec 2010
  3. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    Thats actually the purpose of this thread...to figure out what it might look like

    I'm not promoting an anarchist state: I'm simply musing the extent to which technology can decentralize roles currently held by government.

    I am not suggesting that security forces should be affected by this. In situations where quick and decisive response is required a heirarchical system is more effective than a commitee.

    I am promoting transparent and direct self-governance where it is appropriate, so it is no longer so prone to corruption and back-room dealings.

    I'm a programmer. If I need to extend a complex piece of code that isn't mine I'm initially overwhelmed on reading the code. That is until it clicks; Until I visualize it. Once I've visualized what it does it's very easy to understand the complex system in place. We are all visual thinkers. It's why bit-tech uses barcharts for benchmarks. It's where infographics dominate news channels. If we, the people, have raw data that means anyone can easily use data-visualization tools to convey even the most complex of ideas. Certainly the transition from data to visual is prone to manipulation to support an agenda, but the populous will quickly become sensitive and attuned to that potential, just as the chinese can now easily identify agents of The 50 Cent Party.

    Before refrigerators street vendors sold ice. They'd have a big block of ice on a cart and they'd chisel some off so that their customers could keep food frozen for a while. They don't exist anymore because technology overtook them; Refrigerators were invented.

    The same is true of the broadcast industries. They are distribution middle-men. As people become more internet literate they will see this. Piracy will increase and the artists themselves will revert to patronage-based systems as they did before mass media.

    This problem is temprorary. The real problem is time because the technology is still in it's infancy. For example, a prerequisite of current voting protocols is literacy. It took time to build the infrastructure to ensure universal literacy, and we're still only at 99%. We still vote however, without bemoaning that marginalized 1%.

    Certainly no system is perfect, but it can be improved upon. And I will assert that our countries low rates civic engagement (and self-improvement) is due to how centralized all forms of power and opportunity are increasingly becoming.
     
    Last edited: 5 Dec 2010
  4. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    It can't. Decentralised government happened in the Wild West. It happened in tribal Africa. No technology involved.

    Neal Stephenson posits that decentralised government is a function of commercial privatisation. Once you are paying for your own health care, your own education, your own welfare insurance, your own housing and utilities, your own security, your own food and goods, your own transport etc., why would you still want to pay taxes? Why would you still need to? Eventually, all your practical life needs that have been privatised might as well be rolled up in a single package. A company buys land, and provides its infrastructure. You buy citizenship with the country-company that best suits your needs and lifestyle.

    For that to happen people need to be empowered, but also honest. Information does not empower people in politics any more than it empowers them to take control of their health. it does not make them any less self-centered and selfish. Again: more Complicated Than That.

    No we are not, sorry. It is another one of those cognitive abilities that people have to varying degrees (but those who don't may have other ways of thinking that you and I are crap at).

    You are getting too hung up on information = informed decision making = power. It is (yeah, you guessed it) More Complicated Than That. There are things like understanding and emotion and motivation and coping ability. People do not make wise decisions at the best of times. Sometimes they can't be arsed at all or they are too scared to. There are a lot of reasons for this, and lack of information is just one of many.
     
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  5. Valo

    Valo Active Member

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    I think it is worth pointing out several factors that affect the way users consume information. I think there are two main drives that influence our information selection that I know of (there might be more, but that just proves my point which I will explain in a sec)

    The first one would be bias. The researchers at Harvard university and MIT have tried to find the correlation between the political views of newspapers and the political views represented by their readership. It turned out that there is no non-biased source of information, what is more, we select the sources of information we used based on our preconceptions and own viewpoint. In essence, we demand bias which in turn is supplied to us by various information outlets.

    The second one would be our tendency to reduce cognitive effort. Another Harvard fellow, Leonid Perlovsky, put forward a theory which indicated that we have varying levels of Knowledge Instinct -the drive to find out about things in detail and from different points of view. The higher it is the more likely we are to dwell upon an issue and see it from different perspectives, which results in more informed decisions and better insight into how things work. To explain it simply, most people have a rough idea of how atoms work, similar to the one of Democritus who first put forward a notion of an unbreakable particles about 2500 years ago. However the information about atomic theory is so readily available that according to ViperGratitude's theory, we should all know at least a little bit about particle physics as well. Yet you can easily find adult people with next to no knowledge of what atoms are!

    This suggests that people are only seeking information that is either:
    1. easy enough for them to comprehend, i.e. their knowledge instinct is relatively low to that of the scientists, researchers and thinkers in general
    2. the information they seek has to comprise of notions that are familiar to them and demanded by them (this is especially true in case of politics or creationism)

    Why do creationists claim that it is a valid theory, despite of plethora of sources that explain what is a scientific theory, how do you trial it, what is a valid evaluation? They even have their own "scientific" sources! Same goes for homeopathy, crystal healing, any non-scientific shenanigan of your choice.

    The Internet only strengthens that situation in a sense, by making it much easier to find information that both is easy to comprehend on one's intellectual level and caters to his demand for bias. This is also why I said I only know about those two factors, any other information has not come into my information network yet (quite similar to social network), I may find out about other stuff by various interactions, however it is not certain that I ever will.

    This leads to another point, you claim that we are visual thinkers - I would say the opposite, most of us aren't, but we haven't come up with an alternative method of data visualisation that would appeal to wider audience. I have seen people who do not understand bar charts, or graphs. Many people do not understand pie-charts! The way wiki-leaks is presented, in a way determines its audience. Some people will just never get to read it. The publicity on the news helps it spread, but it may remain inaccessible for many people forever, or at least until it is presented in a way that can be consumed by them.

    Some designers would even claim otherwise, most of us are verbal thinkers, which is why we use words to express the percentages ratios and all proportions. Why do you think all charts are labeled with values? Do you think you could really tell the difference between 30% and 33%? Wouldn't a pie chart displaying differences between proportions be enough?

    What do you think has greater influence on elections - newspapers or fox news? I think the answer is quite obvious, television direct-feeds people a processed stream of information that does not require drawing conclusions or cross referencing pieces of text. I am 20 years old and most of my peers, despite attending really good universities (I don't think I know anyone whos in a university that is not in world top 100) have no interest in politics, asked about their voting preferences know very little about their politicians' policies, yet they claim to make informed decisions. If it is so easy to read up and gain more power by making more conscious decisions, why do they not do that? Again, it is lack of will to make cognitive effort.

    Information on its own is unlikely to cause any major changes to the way the society works, as it has been available for quite a while now and the way people consume it seem to prove that they do not really care about maximising the amount of information they have in their possession. Quite the contrary, we try to limit our information intake to reduce our cognitive effort in everyday lives. As I pointed out in another thread, most people at one of the top British universities I attend that doesn't do liberal arts have no idea who wrote "Les Miserables". Why is that? Is that not a famous book? Is it difficult to find out who wrote it, or even read it? No, they just don't care, it is not in their information network and they do not need to know it. It is the same with WikiLeaks, it is not that they lack empowerement or anything of that sort. It is just unnecessary effort.

    It is quite lengthy and I apologize for that, I will try to find the links to articles mentioned when I have abit of time.
     
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  6. Attila

    Attila still thinking....

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    The second part of this is a little off topic but has some relevence to the discussion.

    I couldn't agree more. It just doesn't matter how ubiquitous information is or gets,
    most people just don't care how their car/computer/TV/oven/government etc works.
    You learn how to use it and when it breaks, you throw it out or get someone to fix it.
    That goes for government as well, when it breaks you throw it out. I'm dreading the
    day newspapers die (and not just because I work for one). The depth of analysis that
    is provided by a good newspaper as well as the spread of views by intelligent and well
    informed writers is very expensive. Investigative reports, sometimes taking months of
    painstaking effort by a team of driven writers, huge pools of foreign correspondents,
    these all require large budgets (the foreign correspondent budget for the NY times is
    sixty million dollars). If the proprietors of the great papers of the world can't work out a way
    to sufficiently monetise their internet presence then a lot of crooks are just going to get away
    with it much more often than now happens.
     
  7. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    Valo's post is excellent (+ rep) and drives the point home:

    We tend to perceive and seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs, and ignore information that challenges them. The reason is that we are confronted with information that contradicts our internal model of the world all the time, and since that model is built on years of experience and vital to our ability to make sense of, and function (and survive) in the world, we like to hang on to it unless it gets challenged repeatedly and thoroughly. Else we'd live in cognitive chaos.

    We also tend to seek and perceive information that we feel is relevant to our model of the world. Most people don't need a thorough knowledge of particle physics or French classical literature to function (unless it happens to be their job or interest). We select lest we get overwhelmed with irrelevant information. Of course, cognitive abilities are a significant factor in this, and so is motivation.

    Although the printing press and now, the Internet make information more accessible, it will not change these fundamental biases in what information people seek and take on board, and in how they make sense of it. The Internet is like coffee: it allows you to be stupid faster and easier, and it allows you to do it from the comfort of your own home. Exhibit A: 4Chan...

    Decentralised government starts with people who are both empowered and responsible ('cause with great power comes hot bitches great responsibility, remember?). You get those by raising them to be confident, self-sufficient, inquisitive, social and altruistic; basically by raising people with a secure attachment orientation --oh, look, it comes down to good parenting again...

    Else you get people who are immature and unable to regulate themselves, egocentric, insecure and distrustful, with a sense of overentitlement or no entitlement at all, and clinging to their child-wish for a parent figure to look after them and make their world better --now, please. And of course you get commercial businesses and politicians who will make a living off promising to do just that --even though they are just as immature and egocentric, etc. and not the wise and caring parents they are pretending to be and the population is colluding with them to be.
     
  8. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    Information is fundamental to freedom, and to individual self-direction. Information makes people better able to do things for themselves, and less susceptible to manipulation by others. An example would be this site. Information about computer hardware makes us better able to build our own computers, rather than pay twice the price for a similarly specced computer that is "On Sale" at PCWorld.

    You need only look at China's efforts to control information to see that by controlling information you control people's freedom. How a society structures its information environment is intrinsically related to that society's capacity for self-direction.

    Pre-internet we had an industrial information economy. We recieved wisdom passivlely from mass-media. Now we have a networked information economy, giving us the freedom to actively contribute to our own cultural enviroment. We can find out more about what goes on in the world from multiple sources, and share it more effectively with others. We can check the claims of others and produce their own, and they can be heard by others, both those who are like-minded and opponents. At a more foundational level of collective understanding it opens the possibility of a more critical and reflective culture. Economic opportunity and welfare today—of an individual, a social group, or a nation—depend on the state of knowledge and access to opportunities to learn and apply practical knowledge.

    I did not create this thread to promote anarchism or a "Wild West". I do believe that many policies currently handled by central government would be more appropriately decided through referendum, where they are not so suseptible to interest groups e.g. The Digital Economy Act, in part, authored by lobbyists from a doomed industry which criminalized a large percentage of the population.

    Perhaps I do have a naive faith in humanity to suggest that it might one day be possible to defer most, if not all, policy to referendum by empowering voters and making politics increasibly more open, transparent and most importantly, relevant. Perhaps this hope is fuelled by the fact that Sarah Palin might one get her mitts on the nuclear football, whereas a strucured levelling of policy would negate extremism on either side of the bell curve...or that a publicly unqualified and opaque statement of institutional "recieved wisdom" such as "Iraq is in possession of WMD's" might again lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

    So far the objections raised have been of qualification and engagement, and rightly so, these are problems to be addressed. However I'm also sure that these very same objections were levied 80 years ago to Universal Sufferage. However, behaviours can be socialized to a desired outcome - We do it to our children every day, and the government does it to us through social engineering (e.g. tax incentives for married couples or public smoking bans). In this case the question is - How do you promote social responsiblity through empowerment?

    Yet, the fact remains that information (and the societal organization of information) is intrinsicly related to self and consequently collective direction...I created this thread to contemplate the design of our institutional response to the present technological perturbation in order to improve the conditions of freedom and justice. So let's hear some solutions...
     
    Last edited: 6 Dec 2010
  9. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    I am not disputing that information should be free. I agree that it is necessary for more informed public involvement and empowerment in political decision making. I am just saying that it is not sufficient.

    You also need to promote a sense of social responsibility, as you say. The last voter turnout suggests that people are not exercising even their basic empowerment. Perhaps voting should be legally required, but that just guarantees voting, not sensible voting.

    The answer lies in good parenting. But what political decisions have been made lately to promote that? What do we as citizens do in our own sphere of influence to promote good parenting?
     
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  10. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    The last left wing government was right wing because the influence of corporations far outweighs that of the people the government is meant to represent. I believe the reason people are not engaged in politics is because the effort/reward ratio is unbalanced. You can campaign tirelessly on an issue for no result.

    My thinking is that by opening policies to structured referendum it would balance out that effort/reward issue - Vote "yay" or "nay" and you've done your part. As for informed voting, and organized activism, I believe that would emerge naturally. Say what you want about Wikipedia but it is undoubtedly a massive display of social altruism...and sometime mischief, admittedly, but on the whole it is a perfectly adequate source of accurate-enough information. Create a culture of social responsiblity, empower people to make a difference with a realistic amount of effort, and the individual social responsibility will follow.
     
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  11. supermonkey

    supermonkey Deal with it

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    The ice vendor in the street didn't go away, he just adapted his business model. Why would I buy a bag of ice if I could just make it in my freezer for free? The same reason I would buy an album or individual tracks off iTunes when I could just pirate them. It's convenient, and inexpensive enough for me to overcome the opportunity cost of making my own ice (takes a day to create the same amount of ice) or pirating media (finding a source, and making sure that you don't download a virus with that catchy Bieber tune).

    The internet won't kill off the old broadcast entities, they'll adapt to it and use its ability to deliver content. Who owns the majority stake in Hulu? NBC, Fox Entertainment Group, and ABC. What's on tap for this season's Must See TV? Check the Facebook page.
     
  12. zatanna

    zatanna New Member

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    i work as part of a team that provides civil legal information and education to public interest lawyers, the low-income public they represent, and their elected officials. informing these groups is certainly not enough to fully accomplish our mission (access to justice), but it is bedrock to our efforts and there has been no greater opportunity to more successfully leverage life-changing information than now exists.

    using the information we cull to then educate those we serve is understandably frustrating with the supposedly educated just as difficult to teach as their lower-literary counterparts. working both sides of the class/education divide has certainly given me perspective, and I’ve found more similarities in how both use or don’t use available information than differences. as nexxo and valo emphasized, even the educated (yessiree, even our elected officials) still want big daddy to provide without too much effort on their part. yes, it’s painfully apparent that we need to work on our parenting skills if we hope to raise the next generation of empowered and responsible citizens.

    but what of the great opportunity to empower, engage and transform that exists right now for those adults who have, somehow, managed to stay even slightly ahead of the curve whether by nature or parental/self- nurture or both?

    good questions. some of us have been fortunate to learn that if we change the way we think, we can change the way we feel, a skill which has long-lasting implications for us personally and collectively. if we can endeavor to help people change the way they think about information and how they use it to shape the quality of their lives (nexxo, i think this is probably something you do on a daily basis in your work), the importance and kind of information we expect will change, and with it our economies and politics.

    i think those of us with even a tenuous hold on the vague notion of contributing to social or political change are stymied and overwhelmed at every turn. we live in a culture that actively discourages engagement. it’s why wikileaks is spurring these kinds of discussions.

    for instance, we’re apathetic because we’re discouraged from interacting with government. the general public are intentionally excluded with jargon, sub-committees of sub-committees, vague information about how to participate, lengthy forms, and a general air of secrecy about routine matters that should be transparent. to keep pursuing inclusion when it’s obvious one is being intentionally excluded is hard and demoralizing work.

    our public spaces (tv, billboards, print) are dominated by private interests with the most money, with election campaigns arguably the most obnoxious. one need only think of this year’s supreme court case allowing corporations to spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and congress. the web is the one exception at the moment. this is where non-profits and public interest groups are starting to get a foothold.

    the mainstream media is intentionally elitist in its political coverage and never encourages joe citizen to contact their representative or band together with like-minded individuals to object. clearly it sends the message that no one in power cares what you think and you won’t make much of a difference anyway.

    “the people” are not encouraged to act as leaders partly because of our warped ideas about what leadership is. achievement is always collective and true leaders are fallible and voluntary. it’s not the glamorous picture most people have. leadership is about having a vision, gathering the tools and people you need to make it a reality, preservering and seizing opportunity.

    so to answer vipersgratitude's question above, we start removing (objecting to) obstacles to political and social engagement wherever possible.

    and nexxo's, we start actively engaging in our own spheres of influence, in creating and promoting good parenting models.

    check out this short TED talk by dave meslin on redefining apathy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuHNVYW4tW0
     
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  13. liratheal

    liratheal Sharing is Caring

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    Information does allow people the chance to be better educated within the subject matter they are reading about, but as has already been established, people don't often want to trawl for information.

    We're used to it being presented to us by journalists and reporters, via television news, newspapers, news websites, and other digitised formats. We have, mostly, relied upon someone else doing the digging for us, and presenting it to us on a platter.

    While that's not a failing on our part - Although it could certainly stand to be altered - I think that the failing falls squarely on the shoulders of the journalists and reporters. We expect them to have done the hard work for us, and when we buy newspapers, we pay them for their work, or through the license fees for the television (Or advertisements on non-BBC channels).

    However, I genuinely believe that journalists and reporters are no longer doing an effective job, especially with regards to the world of investigative journalism (I'm not alone here, see The Bureau of Investigative Journalism). We have, numerous times, been in situations as a nation where the government has been caught with its pants down long after the event took place - IE: The Afghanistan/Iraq wars - In situations where documents existed long before the wars started, and that only really emerged after it was too late. Where were the journalists doing the digging in the lead up to the war? Writing sensationalist stories, rather than hard hitting, pant wettingly excellent stories that would doubtlessly propel a career more so than the latest "shocker" about the NHS not having enough baby incubators.

    With the advent of Wikileaks, we've been presented not with the journalism, but instead, with the raw information. It's good, don't get me wrong, and it is a step in the right direction - A big step - But it isn't what we, as the public, need. Most media outlets will report the very general outline of the leaks that make it to Wikileaks - Which are typically in the thousands of documents - Yet, very few (if any) will actually report on the content that isn't sensational, or that can be edited to be sensational. None, I don't believe, will bother looking hard enough to find something worth following up on.

    As a general populace, our laziness (Or, arguably, lack of free time) is contributing massively to our inability to sift through the information we can now access through the internet.

    I don't believe, though, that it's too far-fetched to expect that journalists should be there to analyse and report the important pieces of information that undoubtedly exist in the reams of it that float around on the net.

    I am upset, mainly, that the investigative spirit has died so utterly. It may be alive and well in small pockets, but considering the number of things in recent years that simply should not have been allowed to happen have, in fact, happened. Well, it's demoralising that our journalists are so hoodwinked by the "free and open society" crap that they don't question what they're fed by the government, or major corporations (Even minor ones). We may have freedom, we may have freedom of speech, but we are lied to on a regular basis by our government, and most certainly by corporations.

    I know, I know, I sound paranoid - But you only have to look at what's happened in the last ten years and think "What else are they lying to us about" to genuinely want the likes of Bernstein, Woodward, Dowie, and Hersh back in journalism. Our governments should not be able to lie to us so often, and nor should they be able to spin such fat whoppers that land us in roles of the bad guy, albeit the slightly less bad bad guy (Our role in the middle east). Our representatives are not representing the country correctly, and the lack of readily available - And more importantly - Easily digestible facts is crippling our chances of electing the right people for the job.

    In my opinion.
     
  14. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    As soon as you blame someone else for not living up to your expectations, there may be some double-think going on here. Yup, journalists are getting lazy. Yup, they are catering to demand. Newspapers with sensational headlines sell better. We want Story, not facts.

    Wikileaks is the antithesis to that: no story, no Op-Ed; just the raw facts. Given it's popularity and somewhat earthquaking reverberation through the news, perhaps it may inspire some journalists to remember what the job was all about again. Perhaps we get another Woodward and Bernstein. Although I wonder how far they would have gotten if their editor had objected to publishing their Watergate story because their information was obtained through security leaks, and hey, you can't undermine our government while there's a war going on...

    Face it: journalists don't have the balls for the truth anymore because we don't.
     
  15. Cthippo

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

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    Part of the problem is that news is now business, operated to make the largest possible profit for shareholders. investigative journalism is slow, tedious, expensive, and in the end there may not be a story there after all.

    Lets say you do break a huge story, but then you will have it for only one news cycle and then everybody will be running it and no one will remember you got it first. If you get too controversial, advertisers will pull their ads and you lose even more money.

    I agree, it's a crappy state of affairs, but I think it's debatable to what extent it is a cause and to what extent an effect.
     
  16. liratheal

    liratheal Sharing is Caring

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    I understand that we can't sit idly by and say "Oh, that was someone elses responsibility, not mine" and expect things to change.

    By the same token, though, it isn't easy for single figures to do the kind of work that an investigative journalist stands the chance of doing - They have a name, and with any luck, a paper behind them that'll get them to people that would otherwise hang up at the first utterance of a question.

    It is incredibly unfortunate that the world has twisted and changed to how it is now, as to how it should be.

    I must confess, I don't see how - Or more importantly when - The public lost the balls for the truth sufficiently for journalists to rest on their laurels, so to speak.

    It's certainly a combination of factors that has lead to this, and it is horrifically unfortunate that so many factors combine to remove the chance for the truth being outed.
     
  17. Valo

    Valo Active Member

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    The biggest complaint I would raise with the posts above is - "WikiLeaks is raw information"

    They never claim it to be, it is likely that it is not! Look at the submission process for wikileaks and how they process any materials submitted to them.

    Another thing, news has always been business, it has been business since the biggest newspapers went private at the beginning of the 20th century. There is no reason to blame newspaper business for lack of investigative journalists. It is just that we don't really demand them. And for good reasons, compared to Nixon's times, US government actions are way more transparent than back then, in addition, people get their share of political drama in the form of tv series and films, they cannot be really bothered to read up another story, because what it boils down to in the end is - just another political drama. People feel safer nowadays, we dont live in the times of cold war and Doomsday clock, the context does not really suit investigative journalism.

    I would also hazard a guess that if something fishy is going on, the bigwigs in the government are probably way better protected than back then, again because of the fact that Watergate has already happened.

    What was also unique to watergate, was the fact that it dealt with problems on the American's own ground. Iraq and Afghanistan are some remote places that no average US citizen is concerned with, Watergate revealed problems that affected people directly.
    I am not saying that lack of investigative journalism is good or bad. What I am trying to convey is the fact that unless wikileaks come out with some properly shocking news, affecting the western world directly, there's little chance it will make a large impact on our society.
     
  18. Cthippo

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

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    I don't know for sure when it happened, but I remember the first time I realized that it had.

    The Alaska Ethics Commission had just released their reports saying that Palin had acted unethically and abused the power of her office, but that her conduct probably did not raise to the level of actually breaking the law.

    Not 20 minutes later she got up on National Television and said "I'm so glad that the ethics commission has exonerated me on all charges".

    Right then I got it. The truth doesn't matter anymore in American politics. During the Bush presidency the truth still mattered some. Bush said crap and people called him on it. People paid attention to the fact that he was being called on it and consistently being proven wrong. That was considered news.

    Now, people can say anything they want and no one cares enough to call them on it, or if they are called on it they ascribe it to xxxx-wing bias and ignore the facts.

    Things got better journalistically after '06, but then went way down hill in '08. I wish I knew what happened.
     
  19. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    America lost faith in itself, probably. It's like the drunk priest in disaster movies. It still goes through the motions and preaches the sermons but its heart isn't in it anymore. Deep down it has lost its self-respect and its identity.

    First America elected an idiot for president, then he was found to be a corrupt idiot. Terrorists could fly in, literally, and take down the icons of American capitalism, and all that America could do was flail uncontrollably in response. The evildoer was never caught and brought to justice. Iraq was a hollow victory. America became the monster itself. Then not only its icons, but capitalism itself collapsed. Another corrupt old White man vied for the throne. Another idiot was to be his second-in-command. More dirty tricks and dishing the dirt on each other, sullying the competition for the highest office in the country. America's noblest achievement, democracy, reduced to a Jerry Springer slugfest. No wonder a Black guy got voted in: who else is left to vote for except the last guy you'd vote for?

    Neil Gaiman said that America was a bad country for gods. Nowadays it is a bad country for Americans. The drunk gets maudlin' about the good old days and tries to convince people that he used to be a contender, that he used to be somebody. Another drink will dull the pain, perhaps, until like a priest performing the last rites on himself, America covers itself with the dark blanket of oblivion and gently closes his glazed, unseeing eyes for the last time.
     
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  20. Cthippo

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

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    Wow, that was poetic.

    Have some rep (not that you need any more :p )
     

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