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[P]
War on the Internet: an Information Problem

By ariux in Op-Ed
Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 12:05:32 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Much has been made of the Internet's power as a vehicle of worldwide siblinghood and understanding. How can people who can speak directly to each other, at will, ever hate or fight each other? One usually hates only that which one does not know.

However, if one looks at the first round of results instead of the high expectations, they weigh heavily against this theory.


The Internet, on its arrival, struck many as a great vehicle for the conveyance of information, opening up vast new realms of knowledge and understanding for all the people of the world (or at least those with access to it). This is close, but not quite accurate. What the Internet conveys is not information but assertions.

That is, anything can be said there (and is), but there is no way for any reader - not being there him- or herself - to determine whether or not any particular statement is true.

Information brings people together only in a context where it's possible to tell whether or not it's accurate - this forces everyone to agree more or less on one version, establishing a kind of bond of truth and basis for interaction. Without this ability, instead of bringing people together information fragments people and drives them apart, acting as a Rorschach test of their sympathies and prejudices and smashing objective truth into as many warring fragments as there are people.

On discovering this, people seek a proper crucible in which to test assertions for truth; but, on the Internet as before, it eludes them. If specific individuals or organizations are allowed to "filter" the data, it is not tested for truth but is instead molded to fit the purposes of the editors. Review and highlighting by groups or communities leads to groupthink and the expression of group, rather than individual, preconceptions. Trusting individuals like columnists (of any stripe and venue) or news anchors to "get it right" leads to a truth that is only as informed and trustworthy as the people who issue it, which is to say - usually, in practice - not at all. Treating the most visible and pervasive positions as accurate leads to a mob's "truth of the loudest."

Indeed, the only area of life in which things are really agreed to by everyone is that of the specific physical behavior of objects, which can be objectively tested by anyone at any time. In the foggier areas of history and politics, where the issue at hand is usually who did what at which moment in the past, and why, we are still, in these modern times, on our own.

As a result of this continued lack, discourse over the grand new medium of the Internet fragments into little isolated chunks caught between preaching to the converted and heckling, with no way for any question to be resolved in any way but by intentional, social consensus, unrelated to any notion of truth. This happens on a grand scale, not just in specific forums like Slashdot and Kuro5hin. In such an environment, there is no direction for discussion and conclusions to expand in except that of increasing vehemence and militancy of existing (and conflicting) opinions, prejudices, lies, and rumors.

In a recent column linked to by Slashdot, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times tried to make this point, but then torpedoed it himself with a slanted choice of examples and a vaguely implied fondness for an "editor" solution (which was picked up on by a suspicious audience). However, he was wrong, not in the main point, but only in the opinions with which he surrounded it.

I can read today, on the Internet, that Arabs are all a bunch of baby-killing fanatics, that 4000 Jews were warned to leave the World Trade Center before the Mossad blew it up, that Kashmiri guerrillas are wholly directed and controlled by Pakistan's policymakers and that such guerrillas are entirely unrelated to Pakistan, that rampaging Hindu mobs in Gujarat torture and murder thousands of innocents and that "these Muslims just don't want to live in peace"; that Iraq is a growing military power bent in the near future on nuking American population centers, and that Iraq, disarmed for a decade and brutally tormented by powerful, sadistic enemies, wants only to be left alone. It appears that millions of people around the world fully believe and earnestly intend to act on all these things. May the God of your choice help us all.

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Related Links
o Slashdot
o Kuro5hin
o recent column
o linked to by Slashdot
o Arabs are all a bunch of baby-killing fanatics
o 4000 Jews were warned to leave the World Trade Center before the Mossad blew it up
o Kashmiri guerrillas are wholly directed and controlled by Pakistan's policymakers
o such guerrillas are entirely unrelated to Pakistan
o rampaging Hindu mobs in Gujarat torture and murder thousands of innocents
o "these Muslims just don't want to live in peace"
o Iraq is a growing military power bent in the near future on nuking American population centers
o Iraq, disarmed for a decade and brutally tormented by powerful, sadistic enemies, wants only to be left alone
o Also by ariux


Display: Sort:
War on the Internet: an Information Problem | 94 comments (87 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Very good article (1.85 / 7) (#1)
by mattwnet on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 07:37:43 PM EST

+1 FP.

Ending the cycle of crap.

Direct link to NYT story, no registration required (4.42 / 7) (#3)
by RegisteredJustForThisComment on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 08:13:49 PM EST

Direct link. That runs a script that automatically generates an NYT account for you using random garbage data, and takes you directly to the story. Bookmark the generator here and use it every time you want to read an NYT story.

Hate the unknown (4.30 / 10) (#9)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 11:07:54 PM EST

I know it's popular to echo Yoda and say that hate comes from ignorance, but it's easy to find instances of neighbors that hate or have hated each other:

India and Pakistan
Israel and Palestine
France and England
Catholics and Protestants in N. Ireland

No, not all people from these groups hate or hated each other.  Nor do all the people who hate wish for violence.  But the point is proven that communication doesn't spontaneously bring peace.

In many cases... (3.71 / 7) (#11)
by aziegler on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 11:25:02 PM EST

...even in the list that you provided, much of the hate does come from ignorance and misinformation. I'd argue that some of it also comes from wilful ignorance.

Group hatred is not based on knowledge; individual hatred may be.

-a

[ Parent ]

I hate the Nazis. (none / 0) (#65)
by truth versus death on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 08:44:54 AM EST

And other groups based on my knowledge of their group's beliefs and practices. I rarely hate individuals.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Not quite what I meant... (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by aziegler on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 03:25:23 PM EST

Earlier, I said:
Group hatred is not based on knowledge; individual hatred may be.
Apparently, you took this to mean your (individual) hatred of particular groups. This isn't quite what I meant, and I should have been clearer. I believe it is relatively well-accepted that there is such a thing as a mob mentality, and that while individuals may rise above that mob mentality, most often that mob mentality shares and teaches its hatred through misinformation, disinformation, and lack of information about other groups.

That's the key point -- my statement isn't about individuals so much as it is about groups, or at least group-think. Your hatred for white supremacists and their ilk is not particularly group-think1, but it is an individual approach.

When individuals have strong feelings about something, those feelings may be well-informed or ill-informed. When groups have strong "feelings" about something, those feelings -- the group-think -- are almost always based on misinformation, disinformation, or an entire lack of information. At least, that's the way that I see it.

-austin

1Indeed, I don't necessarily think that society as a whole hates <fitb>-supremacists, and sadly I think that a significant minority of any society at least tacitly approve of such organisations. I'll also be honest enough to state that I don't hate these organisations or their members -- I just don't have that much energy to spare on them. I have no like for them, and I think that they, their stated beliefs, and their practices are dispicable and should be countered with the truth at every possible point, but I don't have enough energy worked up about them to hate them.


[ Parent ]
Religion (3.80 / 5) (#23)
by rdskutter on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 06:18:46 AM EST

Much of this hatred comes from over-reliance on religion. People are blinded by their own religions.


If you're a jock, inflict some pain / If you're a nerd then use your brain - DAPHNE AND CELESTE
[ Parent ]

Hate ( not only, but also ) the unknown (4.50 / 4) (#27)
by nr0mx on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 09:02:43 AM EST

IMHO, Hate comes from not being able to force your viewpoint down the throat of others. ( This is but one way of looking at it :P )

Resistance to change an example, and Fear of the Unknown is an extension of the same phenonemon, where losing control over the future is the dominating fear.

As I see it, there is no unifying 'reality', but instead groups of people promoting their version of the same. And what the internet has done is made all these versions accessible to you, so you may pick and choose. But it cannot change the basic fabric of 'reality', it cannot guard against your resistance to any particular version ( 'wilful ignorance' as someone put it ).

AFAIK, You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Internet provides you alternative pools of information from which to drink. What more can you expect of it, or any other information medium ?

--
"Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions."
- Terry Pratchett, The Truth



[ Parent ]

Difference? (4.15 / 13) (#10)
by rusty on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 11:24:35 PM EST

How is this different from any other form of human communication? It isn't. You could write this article about any medium that people use to communicate.

That is, anything can be said there (and is), but there is no way for any reader - not being there him- or herself - to determine whether or not any particular statement is true.

We do hope you enjoy your stay with us here in this universe. Please keep your traytable up and your seatback in its full upright position.

____
Not the real rusty

No difference? (4.40 / 5) (#13)
by ariux on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 01:07:30 AM EST

Might it be a wee bit cynical to categorically assert that no sort of communication in the entire history of humanity has helped to create or support a discourse in which truth and falsehood could be identified?

In fact, many people appear to have hoped that the Internet - which is, after all, a new experience for humanity - might help to solve this very problem. What I'm pointing out is that, at the moment, this hope doesn't seem to be working out very well.

[ Parent ]

definitions (4.57 / 7) (#14)
by adiffer on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 03:18:20 AM EST

If you can define truth and falsehood in our human interactions, I'll be very surprised. Expecting the internet to magically create meaning where we haven't managed to succeed through out all of history is a little silly.

What the internet has really done is cut the cost of producing communication content and distribution to near zero. I can look up everyone's crazy little ideas about what things mean now with an ease I never had before. Those crazy little ideas existed, though, long before.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

Truth (4.90 / 10) (#16)
by rusty on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 04:04:30 AM EST

That's what I was getting at. Truth is a really slippery concept, and not one that I think can be greatly improved or degraded by a particular communication medium. I'm not saying "nothing is true", just that truth and falsehood are appropriate concepts in some contexts and inappropriate in others. This article seems to be about someone's mistaken belief that the internet would make "true/false" appropriate in a bunch of contexts where it never was before. That would seem unlikely, and so it has turned out to be.

Might it be a wee bit cynical to categorically assert that no sort of communication in the entire history of humanity has helped to create or support a discourse in which truth and falsehood could be identified?

Cynical? Not at all. Media transmit information. The form and content of that information will likely end up being molded to suit the medium it's created for ("the medium is the message"), but truth and falsehood are results of an analytic process in which information is the input, the raw material. You say something. That's transmitted by some medium to my head. I apply my "truth machine" to it, and receive either true, false, or unknown. The key fature of this process is that the "truth" step comes after the information has been transmitted.

Or, to put it another way, expecting the internet to affect the "truth" of the information on it is like expecting a phone line to transform my whiny nasal voice into the velvety tones of Kiefer Sutherland. Not only is it unsurprising that it doesn't happen, but it would be silly to expect that it would in the first place.


____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

It depends on what one means by "true" (4.66 / 3) (#18)
by qpt on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:38:30 AM EST

I can think of several different theories of truth, and some of them would allow for the Internet to affect the truth value of propositions. Given time, I could probably think of more, but I doubt anyone is interested.

Correspondence theory of truth, which holds, roughly, that a statement is true just in case the proposition it expresses corresponds to some fact, probably will not allow the Internet to change the truth values of most propositions.

Coherence theory, in contrast, maintains, again roughly, that a proposition is true for an agent only if it is coherent with a preponderance of the agent's beliefs. According to such a theory, if someone formed their beliefs solely on the basis of what CNN.com claimed, and CNN.com claims were coherent, CNN.com would determine the truth values of a great many propositions for that agent.

Finally, there are two theories of truth that are termed pragmatic. The first holds that a proposition is true if it is affirmed by the majority of people competent to judge it. The second holds that a proposition is true if acting as though one believed it will result in more benefit than acting as if one denied it. It should be clear that the Internet could affect the truth value of propositions under both of these views.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

Response (4.00 / 3) (#20)
by ariux on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:54:55 AM EST

I think the nature and/or use of a medium do have an impact, in practice, on the general accuracy of its content.

I think the Internet, as it currently exists and is used, is tending in practice to spread very low-quality information very rapidly and in very large amounts, combined - perhaps most dangerously - with the illusion (because this is whizz-bang new and people haven't got used to it yet) that such information is in fact high-quality.

As adiffer notes, crazy little ideas existed before, but this effect may be enhancing their reach and power.

[ Parent ]

Also applies to CNN, etc. (5.00 / 2) (#39)
by ka9dgx on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 03:27:01 PM EST

I think that mass media news outlets, such as CNN, etc... tend in practice to spread very low-quality information very rapidly and in very large amounts, combined - perhaps most dangerously - with the illusion (because this is whizz-bang new and people haven't got used to it yet) that such information is in fact high-quality.

Why else would be believe the stream of lies fed to us by the corporate controlled mass media? We don't really care what really happened if we didn't see it on the news.

--Mike--

[ Parent ]

Maybe it used to be that way (5.00 / 2) (#47)
by ariux on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 04:47:29 PM EST

Television is no longer whizz-bang new, and apparently only 10% of polled Americans express trust in their news sources.

[ Parent ]

Television and trust (none / 0) (#69)
by ka9dgx on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 10:40:10 AM EST

People trust TV news, they don't trust it for the details, and they know it's biased, but they don't know HOW baised.

--Mike--

[ Parent ]

90/10 rule (4.00 / 1) (#60)
by rusty on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 12:26:39 AM EST

I think the Internet, as it currently exists and is used, is tending in practice to spread very low-quality information very rapidly and in very large amounts

The key there is "in large amounts." Proportionally,  I don't think the web is spreading a greater percentage of "low-quality" information (We'll assume for a minute that we can agree on some definition of low-quality). At least 90% of television is stuff I don't want to watch. Same with books. Magazines and newspapers feature a much higher percentage of stuff I'm not interested in. I agree that there's billions of metric tons of crap out there on the web. But I don't think that makes it somehow a failure as a medium. Maybe it seems like there's so much more crap because there's so much more of everything.

Again, it seems like you're arguing based on someone's unreasonable expectations. I'm not so much disagreeing with your premises, as disagreeing that there's anything unexpected or even noteworthy about it.

with the illusion (because this is whizz-bang new and people haven't got used to it yet) that such information is in fact high-quality.

I don't really know where you're getting that. My impression is that people are much less likely to trust information they got off the web. I think that's actually a very good thing. The net's weaknesses, from a traditional point of view, are that information is often anonymous or pseudonymous, and can't necessarily be taken at face value. Well, the thing is, this is true for every other medium too, people have just gotten in the habit of thinking otherwise. I will be sad if the internet grows up to occupy the same unquestioned place in people's minds, because that just leads them to hand over their brains to someone else's discretion, like we've all done with TV and newspapers and CNN. I'm glad internet information is so unreliable. It forces you to think critically, and hopefully that habit will start to carry over to other media.

The internet is enhacing the reach and power of crazy ideas, sure. But it enhances the reach and power of good ideas too, at least as much, and probably more. I don't think there's anything inherent in the internet as a medium that promotes crazy ideas and punishes sensible ones. Is that what you're getting at? If so, I don't feel you've made the case.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Media and content (5.00 / 5) (#26)
by ariux on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 07:35:30 AM EST

Not at all. Media transmit information.

That's a dramatic oversimplification. The way a medium works can have a strong and significant impact on its content and the effects of that content.

Take broadcast media, for example: they are, by and large, centrally sourced; their purpose is to amplify a single piece of information and reproduce it for many people to identically observe.

The Internet, by contrast, is decentralized, and a lot of its interesting traffic is created by the separate participation of many individuals. It's therefore naturally open to a much broader range of opinions. The closest broadcast media can come to this is a talk show, but because of resource limitations imposed by the format that just doesn't compare.

Take media ownership. With a single owner or controller (be that "owner" a state agency or a particular system of market pressures), one point of view will be represented. With many, more will.

I could go on and on. The point I'm trying to make, though, is that while the medium is definitely not the same thing as the content, it does have some impact on what kinds of content naturally get expressed.

Now, from the perspective of producing verifiable or commonly verified content and delivering information that later turns out to be accurate to people who seek such information, the Internet isn't doing very well right now, at least when it comes to political discourse.

The extent of the conflicts between "facts" commonly and repeatedly asserted there reveals the depth of this failure. It appears to be easy to raise ideas and impossible to discredit them, no matter how absurd they are. (For a given pair of dramatically conflicting assertions, at least one must be howlingly wrong, and apparently is so with impunity.)

The Internet is getting abused as a launching platform for multiple competing propaganda efforts, their goals to generate mass hysteria of various kinds. Sometimes, a medium will develop at least some nominal defenses against such abuse: caveat emptor made explicit, standards of evidence and citation, watchdogs. As far as I can tell, the ever-growing Internet community has done none of these things.

I'm not sure I agree with your thesis that no medium could possibly do better.

[ Parent ]

The rubber truth stamp (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by rusty on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 12:44:45 AM EST

The point I'm trying to make, though, is that while the medium is definitely not the same thing as the content, it does have some impact on what kinds of content naturally get expressed.

Like television, by its simple logic of image montage, tends to boil complex issues down into brief bite-sized totems (the fireman and the flag at ground zero, OJ's white Bronco driving slowly down the freeway, and so on). Like newspapers impose several axes of importance ranking on stories trhough page placement and column inches, and tend to force them into "X vs. Y" format, for dramatic tension and the appearance of completeness? No argument there.

Now, from the perspective of producing verifiable or commonly verified content and delivering information that later turns out to be accurate to people who seek such information, the Internet isn't doing very well right now, at least when it comes to political discourse.

I would say on the contrary that the internet merely does a better job reflecting the broad gray spectrum that actually exists in the real world, in the huge majority of issues. For someone weaned on the television totem, or the newspaper dramatic story arc, this can perhaps seem overwhelming, or like a failure of the medium. But I would assert that it's a failure on the receiving end. The world is really complicated. Very few things boil down to facts, and where there are facts, they are still usually meaningless without interpretation.

Other media have a strong tendency to limit the degrees of interpretation. The internet doesn't seem to. This, to me, makes it a far more accurate platform for representing reality. Any one site might have any number of things wrong, but you can almost always determine what "facts" are known and what are not known by comparing multiple accounts (which is absurdly easy to do). Beyond that, it's a marketplace for interpretation. It's just a much more open and diverse one than that offered by centralized media.

Sometimes, a medium will develop at least some nominal defenses against such abuse: caveat emptor made explicit, standards of evidence and citation, watchdogs.

That's simply imaginary. Some information organizations have these things. Media never ever inherently have them. Media simply don't operate at that layer. Simple test: pick any medium, and tell me how it prevents you from using it to lie. Any medium ever, at all, in the history of human communication.

Caveat lector is (or should be) assumed for all information, no matter what its source. If you're not thinking like this already, it's way past time to start. If you mean you want websites to band together and self-police, in some way, I can imagine that happening, but I don't think it would be a good thing. The effect would simply be to provide a false sense of reassurance that those sites are "true" and others are not, therefore limiting the range of generally accessable viewpoints to only those palatable to whoever gets to determine membership in the "truth club". This hasn't worked for radio, television, or print -- instead it has encouraged people to unthinkingly accept whatever gets rubber stamped as "accurate and reliable." It's a system that's very good for corporations and very bad for human beings.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

A real marketplace of ideas (4.50 / 6) (#28)
by pyramid termite on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 09:44:22 AM EST

This article seems to be about someone's mistaken belief that the internet would make "true/false" appropriate in a bunch of contexts where it never was before. That would seem unlikely, and so it has turned out to be.

But, at least for some of the more open-minded observers, it can make the weaknesses of some arguments, and the prejudices of those who make them much more transparent than they would be in a closely edited medium like a newspaper or a TV news report. When people have to defend their beliefs against all comers, instead of carefully selected proponents of "the opposing viewpoint", they are confronted with ideas that they would not otherwise encounter, and often show themselves incapable of answering them. It can be interesting to see the seperation between those who merely parrot a line of belief, and those who actually have thought their beliefs through. It can be even more interesting to see the tendency of those who hold certain viewpoints to shout, write illiterately, or use circular reasoning. For example, most of the people who hold racist viewpoints don't seem to write very well. Another example is the tendency of pirates and anti-pirates to repeat the same arguments over and over again. The first example leads me to believe that racists aren't very intelligent, while the second example leads me to believe that the argument isn't ever going to be settled, or that perhaps some basic issues have not be raised, and the discussion needs to be expanded. In my experience, attempts to do so can result in both sides asking "Just what the hell are you talking about?"

The major flaw in discourse on the internet? Binary thinking - for/against, is/is not, wrong/right. Third or fourth alternatives are often not considered.

As Yogi Berra once said, "You can observe a lot just by watching ..."
On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Slow down there (3.25 / 4) (#19)
by qpt on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:44:45 AM EST

First, what do you mean by "define truth and falsehood in our human interactions?" There are several theories of truth that maintain truth is the product of consensus or coherence, if that is what you are doubting.

Also, I do not understand what you are trying to get at with your comment about the Internet and meaning. As I understood the original discussion, it was about truth, not meaning. Now, some people have held that there is an interesting relationship between the two, but the strategy has been to try to describe meaning in terms of truth, not vice versa. The latter is generally considered much easier to work with than the former.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

I think I see your point (none / 0) (#76)
by adiffer on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 04:01:38 PM EST

I'm using a particular approach to defining truth that others might not be using.

For some people, a large volume of consistent messages can define their truths. This sounds right since it is the motivation of propaganda, religious education, and less obvious systems for structuring people's lives.

I would guess that most people use most of the systems you described elsewhere in this thread. The one they apply to material they read off the internet may vary by topic, right?

That would explain how I jumped to a conclusion using my approach. I learned to think of the internet and its content as a research tool. Because of that, I attack most statements with the same skepticism I use in approaching new physics ideas.

Good point. Thanks.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

Mediums (5.00 / 4) (#45)
by DarkZero on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 04:46:09 PM EST

Might it be a wee bit cynical to categorically assert that no sort of communication in the entire history of humanity has helped to create or support a discourse in which truth and falsehood could be identified?

I don't think it's cynical. More like logical. The lack of a concrete true/false definition in human communication isn't because of the medium used to communicate. It's because of the the people that are using the medium. Whether people are discussing in written text, in person, on the phone, over a television broadcast, or on the internet, it's still just a bunch of human beings talking. The human beings are what creates the lack of a concrete true/false definition, not the medium. It's the bias and the viewpoint that they bring to the discussion that taints it, not the medium that they use to discuss.

Expecting the medium to solve this problem is like expecting a rock to float in a swimming pool when it doesn't float in a pond. It's not the body of water that determines whether or not the rock will float, it's the water. But then again, once you remove the water, you're no longer trying to get a rock to float in water, which was the idea in the first place. The same applies to human interaction. Once you remove the different biases and viewpoints that people have when they're discussing something, you're really talking about something completely new and different from what you were originally trying to achieve.

[ Parent ]

I stand by my point (5.00 / 4) (#48)
by ariux on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:02:31 PM EST

Let's say you're talking with your neighbor about a fence he recently put up. You and he are standing in your front yards, and the fence is right there.

Now, let's say you're communicating with someone thousands of miles away through an electronic translator. Neither of you has ever visited the other's lands, and might even have trouble finding them on a map. Both of you are arguing on the basis of what others, their motives unknown, have told you.

Will these circumstances influence your ability to shed differences and find common ground?

The medium does matter.

[ Parent ]

Nah, I don't think so, not true (4.00 / 6) (#24)
by mami on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 06:22:45 AM EST

How is this different from any other form of human communication? It isn't. You could write this article about any medium that people use to communicate.

I don't think so. Anonymity of authorship and the incapability to trace content's sources to the meat-space original root document makes a lot of difference.

There is no other medium, which operates with no boundaries and no rules, that would serve as a screening process for its content's "truth value".

Lack of accountability, limitless freedom of speech, which you wouldn't have in this form in real space, doesn't lead to more truth, but to a display of human's potential and capabilities for thought crimes.

I don't think that any other medium is capable of revealing thoughts in raw format as well as online communication. But it's just that - thoughts - unreal and unaccountable as dreams.

[ Parent ]

Thought crimes (4.50 / 2) (#31)
by khallow on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 12:40:21 PM EST

Rusty sez:

How is this different from any other form of human communication? It isn't. You could write this article about any medium that people use to communicate.
You reply:

I don't think so. Anonymity of authorship and the incapability to trace content's sources to the meat-space original root document makes a lot of difference.

There is no other medium, which operates with no boundaries and no rules, that would serve as a screening process for its content's "truth value".

Lack of accountability, limitless freedom of speech, which you wouldn't have in this form in real space, doesn't lead to more truth, but to a display of human's potential and capabilities for thought crimes.

I don't think that any other medium is capable of revealing thoughts in raw format as well as online communication. But it's just that - thoughts - unreal and unaccountable as dreams.

Before you reply to anything else, I want to know what you meant by "thought crimes". Are you saying there are thoughts that should be illegal? FWIW, I can't take someone serious who uses a phrase like that without any apparent understanding of its "1984" origins. Please explain.

As far as communication on the Internet goes, it often is highly linked to meat-space. I can often call someone (say my brother) and verify that they sent a particular message. We aren't drifting through some sort of misty dream, we're communicating with a medium that can refer to hard resources and with sources that are often surprisingly reliable.

I've often used the Internet to get solutions to minute programming problems (eg, configuring SQL databases or looking up a very specific error message for some package on Google). No regular media source covers that. My results has been pretty impressive for a medium "unreal and unaccountable as dreams".

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

thought crimes (3.33 / 3) (#34)
by mami on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 01:56:33 PM EST

FWIW, I can't take someone serious, who uses a phrase like that without any apparent understanding of its "1984" origins. Please explain.

First, I was not aware that the expression "thought crime" had a specific origin or meaning through the book "1984". I just chose this expression, because nothing better came into my mind to describe what I thought of.

Second, you don't have to take me serious. :-)

Third, I am aware of all the "good stuff" and the "positive aspects" of how information is distributed. Your example out of the programming area is of course one of the strongest, but there are countless more. The original hope of the content on the web and internet being humanity's biggest library of a quality that would resemble an online, edited version similar to the LC still counts.

Let me try to make clear what I meant to be a "thought crime".

I do believe that anonymity and the spontaneity, speed and lack of any boundaries in online communication (and I thought we talked about communication and not so much about publication) plays a trick with human's capability of keeping up ethical standards and being accountable for their own online words.

For example, if I comment right now, what you read are my thoughts. To you these thoughts become spoken words. The thoughts are out in the open as if I had spoken to you in person. I am pretty sure, unless I would know you very well in person, I would not speak out these words in real space.

For my thoughts to be spoken out in real space they undergo a tremendous editorial filter.I would apply that filter unconsciously and I can't even avoid that filter. It's there by nature. You don't speak without being aware of what consequences your words will bring with them.

There are hundreds of things, which my mind will consider before I would reveal, what I think in real space to a person I can see, I know etc. I know I am accountable for what I say and I consider the person's feelings I am talking to, the context in which we communicate etc.

In online communication my thoughts are typed in spontaneously and they don't undergo an editorial filter (at least much less than they would in real space). I am not accountable for anything. Relying that nobody goes through the trouble to find out, who I am and trace me down most of the time, I can get away with almost anything.

There are no boundaries, no inhibitions to reveal your thoughts unedited, but you get the reward of answers, as if you had spoken in the real space (that's the addictive part, I think, and where reality and fiction get mingled and mixed up in your mind in quite toxic ways).

The fact that your online words actually result in as much hurt, pain, joy in the readers and responding persons as if they had been spoken out in real space to a real person, gives you a feeling of power, which most people can't handle easily, IMO.

This power is prone to be abused. If you do abuse that power, I think you are involved in a "thought crime" and I think there is a lot of it out there. I have no idea, if "thought crime" is a suitable expression for what I was thinking about, but I happened to have chosen those words.

Hope that clarifies it.

[ Parent ]

Ok, thoughtcrime from 1984 (4.75 / 4) (#40)
by khallow on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 03:27:33 PM EST

Here is a rambling background on "thoughtcrime".

The book, "1984" (written in 1948 by George Orwell) was about a worker in a totalitarian state, Oceania which dictated every aspect of action, speech, and thought. See this spoiler site for a quick flavor of the novel. There were four great Ministries - the Ministry of Plenty which allocated (barely) resources, the Ministry of Peace which desultorily fought wars with the other two States (each with the same nasty attitudes), the Ministry of Truth (which our protagonist worked at) which determined what at the moment was true and what was not (and amazingly good at continuous editing), and finally the Ministry of Love which everyone else feared with very good reason (among other things they monitored everyone all the time).

"Doublespeak" was the newly introduced language of Oceania. Basically, it was a pidgin English with most meaning stripped from the words. For example, if something was beneficial, it would be called "good", but if it were bad, then it would be "ungood". Very good or very bad would be "plusgood" or "plusungood". Extremely good or bad would be "doubleplusgood" or "doubleplusungood". I could see the world ending because of a misunderstanding. "But sir, I thought you said nuking the world was doubleplusgood, not doubleplusungood!" No idea how you'd say that properly in doublespeak...

In this context, "crime" became the label for the excuse for the public displays of Ministry of Love power. Ie, you were hauled off, tortured psychologically in good old "Room 101", and vanished (disappearance always occured with the occasional public display of the shattered victim for a period of time). At the time of your arrest, coworkers and associates (at least those who weren't arrested with you) would be informed that you commited a "crime" and no longer exist. So there were various categories of crimes. If you said something unapproved, it was a "speechcrime". If you thought something unapproved, it was a "thoughtcrime".

In this context, you are describing a breach of etiquette as a "thought crime". IMHO, that is pretty inappropriate on two levels. First, it isn't a crime and isn't about thought but rather the absence of thought. I can insult millions of people on the Internet (merely by my presence, I assure you :-), but that's not a crime (certainly not breaking any laws I know off...). Second, as you can see, it has some hefty negative conotations from the "1984" novel.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Thanks ! That was enjoyable to read. :-) (4.50 / 2) (#52)
by mami on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:19:21 PM EST

Then I assume I have committed a doubleungood "speech crime" and an ungood "thought crime", because what you double-speakingly call "breach of etiquette" is in my undoubly-spoken words  "manipulative hate speech" that is double-thinkingly presented as "trollish amusement", which you nevertheless quite double-goodly call the "absense of thought", which I consider double-straight-forwardly "a crime against human dignity".

Well, time I reread the book. I think I read it in the early sixties during highschool but it has just left my memories.

[ Parent ]

1984 Online (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by Canar on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 03:51:41 PM EST

It's available online now:

http://www.constitution.org/orwell/1984.htm

[ Parent ]

Small correction. (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 06:58:03 PM EST

"Doublespeak" was the newly introduced language of Oceania.
Actually the new language in "1984" was called "Newspeak". "Doublethink" was an encouraged mode of thought in which one could believe two mutually contradictory pieces of information at once.



[ Parent ]

too much communication (3.42 / 7) (#12)
by bonapartrix on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 11:41:06 PM EST

One usually hates only that which one does not know.

doesn't familiarity breed contempt?

(damn maxims)

Fits perfectly (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by DarkZero on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:02:24 AM EST

I don't think those maxims really counter each other at all. One usually hates only that which one does not know. Familiarity, on the other hand, breeds contempt. There's a huge difference there. I am quicker to hate and want to kill an unknown stranger creeping around my property in the dead of night (that which I do not know) than I am to hate and want to kill one of my family members. I am also more likely to feel annoyance and contempt for one of my family members that I am for an unknown stranger lurking on my property, because the unknown stranger inspires much stronger feelings than that.

The unknown breeds hate. Real hate, which inspires people to attack and even to kill. Familiarity breeds contempt, which only stretches from annoyance to a mild, simmering hatred. Hatred and contempt are very different things.

[ Parent ]

you're right (none / 0) (#53)
by bonapartrix on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 06:34:10 PM EST

good point. now that i think of it more- i'd say the unknown breeds fear, primarily; so whatever hate people have for the unknown comes from fear, further distancing that kind of hate from a contempt for the familiar.

[ Parent ]
fear leads to hate (none / 0) (#58)
by sal5ero on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 11:16:08 PM EST

and hate leads to the dark side, Luke

[ Parent ]
missing something important (3.42 / 7) (#15)
by rhyax on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 04:02:38 AM EST

I can read today, on the Internet, that Arabs are all a bunch of baby-killing fanatics... It appears that millions of people around the world fully believe and earnestly intend to act on all these things. May the God of your choice help us all.

these are all fringe. these sites are one-way non-collective. give me 5 minutes and i can have a website that says i am the lord jesus ready for the rapture. it would take a good deal longer to convince any collective-community-site of that...

sure there are crazy people, but i don't get the impression these people have much interaction with the larger-internet

Agreed, and... (none / 0) (#33)
by Jel on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 01:25:09 PM EST

...don't forget, this is only the "first round of results", as the article says.

It's quite obvious to me that the Internet fosters communication (yes, both good and bad communication), and that communication fosters understanding.

It's also quite obvious to me that the 'Net hasn't become the main news source for the majority.  Even if it had, I might not count major news organisations as true "'Net news sources".  I think the difference in global acceptance will be much clearer once the majority of citizens in the majority of countries pull news from global sources on a frequent basis, rather than relying on narrow local media for their perspectives.


[ Parent ]

The problem... (none / 0) (#46)
by ariux on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 04:46:42 PM EST

...is that this can lead, instead of to accuracy, to a merely more diverse menu of falsehoods, with no empirical way for the readers of the world to judge them against each other - an arena that might thereby prove a flowering ground of the propaganda of the new century's savage wars, and a graveyard of tolerance and humane understanding.

Note that I like the availability of global news sources and take advantage of them myself, but they aren't any kind of panacea.

[ Parent ]

No, not at all (none / 0) (#62)
by Jel on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 05:40:00 AM EST

No, I didn't mean to suggest that -- not for a second.  All I'm saying is that traditional news sources seem a little more narrow minded and localised than the good online news sources.

I wouldn't recommend relying on any online source alone, but taking them all together, I think the whole is greater than the whole of offline sources.


[ Parent ]

Two Things, Sort Of (4.87 / 8) (#21)
by DarkZero on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:59:19 AM EST

First off, how is any of this new? Everyone acts like internet news and discussion sites can't be trusted because they could be biased. But is that really any different from the way the world was before the internet and in large part still is? We all know how biased the news business has always been in almost all countries of the world. Up until the last few decades, even the most developed countries had openly biased news broadcasts and newspapers that very loudly supported their own countries' war efforts and smeared the names of their opposing countries. And in these last few decades, the only real change is that the news has become less open about it. Almost every American news broadcast and newspaper supports the United States' government on dozens of issues, regardless of whether it's the war effort or domestic disputes like the recent CIPA court case, with the only difference being that they cover up their support with sanitized, politically correct language that gives the false appearance of being objective and impartial news sources. In fact, the only mainstream example I can think of that doesn't fit this trend is Fox News, but they're an exception because they're openly jingoistic and don't try to cover it up at all, rather than because their reporting is honestly objective and impartial.

But unfortunately, opinions like Ariux's are widespread in the minds of almost every casual internet user, if only on a subconscious level. Because any website that isn't owned by a gigantic corporation that is only barely covering its support for its country's government "isn't trustworthy", the only sites that are considered reliable are sites like CNN.com, NYtimes.com, MSNBC.com, BBC.CO.UK, and their ilk. Because of this pervasive and idiotic idea that biased reporting is something that is solely tied to the internet, the people of the world have essentially taken a wide open field filled with information and the chance for interaction with people that they would never know otherwise and started erecting fences to keep everyone else out of their private national space. I hate to sound like one of those conspiracy nuts that sees huge macro-conspiracies working themselves into the the collective human consciousness at every turn, but all of this is really just history repeating itself. Many thousands of years ago, human beings were given a wide open field called "Earth", in which they could construct things, interact with each other, and learn everything that the universe had to offer. The first things that they constructed, unfortunately, were walls and armies to keep each other out. Now that they've been given a similarly open field with an even greater chance for attaining knowledge and interacting with each other, their first act on that field has been to build replicas of the walls that they originally built.

So here we are. If you want to be directly exposed to foreign culture on the internet, you have to dig for it in the parts of the internet that casual users don't even know about: IRC to meet the people, FTPs to watch their media (movies, television shows, etc.), and a website that hardly anyone outside of geeks knows about to read a relatively small selection of their literature. And if you ever link to a news site from Korea, Japan, Iceland, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, or the like in order to back up a point, you'll be thought of as an untrustworthy nutjob for using "unreliable sources" (AKA something other than their own national news) to prove your points.

Hey, maybe some other unique form of person-to-person communication will come along, succeeding both real interaction and data interaction. Maybe that one will work better than the first two did. But until then, things are in a pretty sorry state. I usually cringe at the use of arrogant terms like "sheep" and "sheeple", but they certainly apply to the average internet user today. National news sources and gigantic corporations have caught casual internet users in their moments of greatest ignorance (their first few days on the internet) and kept them there, creating cultures in the world's most developed countries that have integrated with only a small piece of the internet, that being the piece that is safe for the old regimes that have controlled developed culture for well over a century, if not far longer.

And as a brief disclaimer, please don't get me wrong about the internet here. It's been a great learning and communication tool for me and thousands of others. It's improved my life in more ways than I can count. However, for the average non-geek, non-techie casual internet user, the internet has become nothing more than popular culture jogging in place the same way it has for the last thirty or forty years in the United States and most of the wealthier portions of Europe, such as Britain and France. Maybe it's having more of an effect in places like Japan, China, Taiwan, Africa, and the poorer sections of Europe than I've seen, but it certainly hasn't lived up to the potential for change and human improvement that I know it has, mostly because of the old regimes of developed culture trying to push it down and succeeding more than most geeks/techies expected.

Yes, this was a rant. But I don't think I'll regret it in the morning.

Same could be said of anything. (3.80 / 5) (#22)
by kitten on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 06:04:22 AM EST

What you're saying is essentially true, but could be applied to any human method of communication and discourse. Anybody can say or write anything; it's up to the reader or listener, no matter the medium the assertion was conveyed with, to establish the reliability of the information, the credibility of the sources, the competance of the authorities, etc.

One might say that the wide availability of so much crap on the Internet is a good thing, because it may force some people to learn how to use their Bullshit Detectors.

In theory, anyway. Far too few people bother to scrutinize anything. But that isn't a fault of the Internet.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
Learning (4.00 / 2) (#32)
by cep on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 01:05:53 PM EST

"Far too few people bother to scrutinize anything. But that isn't a fault of the Internet."

Over time, people will learn that, because they have to. This will be a positive effect of the Internet.

[ Parent ]

Similiar to any other mass media (3.66 / 6) (#25)
by svampa on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 07:11:49 AM EST

As any other mean (writting, Photo, radio, TV, Phone...) internet began being an elite mean, and was used only for intesting stuff, when it spreaded, it began to contain everything, good and bad things, as the world it belongs to. It's used for science and for pornography. It's used by lovely families and friends and by criminals. So writting is, so phone is. etc.

Internet has added its own features to communication, speed and world spread.

The fact that people may expose their points of views easy and quickly doesn't mean they will understand better one each other. It only will haste misunderstudings and understandings, hate and reconciliation, wrath and peace. And the bucle loops quicly.

Truth is spread quikcly, so lies do. Truth raises quickly and it's buried again quickly by new lies.

Now you may know facts from the rest of the world as you never done before, and you may be confounded by rumors from the rest of the world.

The people who had great expectations from internet thought it would remain it the first stage, as in the early days when writting was used for religion and philosphy.

Internet has increased the amount of information. But the figth for truth is the same. The battle field is wider and the weapons of both sides are more effective, that's all.

Internet is not the Eden of truth, there is not such thing, and there will never be such thing



assertions vs. information (4.62 / 8) (#29)
by tps12 on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 10:56:07 AM EST

While I agree with the thesis that the Internet, as a medium for communication, does not have any built-in concept of "truth," I have to point out that
  1. "information" makes no judgement regarding truth, so "assertions" are just as valid information as facts, and
  2. the Internet is not unique in its inherent agnosticism towards truth.
The only problem that exists on the Internet is the temporary one of users being too gullible. In a few years they will have established a healthy skepticism that will likely carry over into other realms (TV, radio, and newspapers). In short, we will all be better off.

In this way, information, whether it consist of truth or falsehood, will always bring people together. Truth will have victory in the end, and  hating on the Internet will get you nowhere.

You are an optimist (none / 0) (#57)
by mami on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 10:59:30 PM EST

The only problem that exists on the Internet is the temporary one of users being too gullible. In a few years they will have established a healthy skepticism that will likely carry over into other realms (TV, radio, and newspapers). In short, we will all be better off.

I think you are very optimistic. Users being too gullible are born every day and each of them has to learn on their own what the "wiser" ones already have accomplished. You can't teach that learning experience, IMHO. You have to go through it.

Truth will have victory in the end, and hating on the Internet will get you nowhere. Hate never gets you anywhere, but it still hasn't died out in real space, why should it on the Internet? Actually, it's such an easy environment to grow there more forcefully than in real space. People who could refute it, won't have time and willingness to do so, they would rather ignore the Internet than wasting their energy to save it from human failures.

[ Parent ]

Still has that new car smell... (none / 0) (#71)
by tudlio on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 02:00:43 PM EST

I think you are very optimistic. Users being too gullible are born every day and each of them has to learn on their own what the "wiser" ones already have accomplished. You can't teach that learning experience, IMHO. You have to go through it.

I mostly agree with you, however I'd point out that because the Internet is still young a lot of people infuse it with a certain undeserved cachet. Some of my older relatives show a greater degree of naivete than my younger relatives, because they see the Internet as a great development of Science, rather than just another medium for the transmission of information.

That shiny metallic glow of goodness will eventually fade.




insert self-deprecatory humor here
[ Parent ]
Are you actually saying anything? (5.00 / 9) (#30)
by khallow on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 12:15:34 PM EST

ariux,

All news whether it come from a drooling rant on K5 (like my usual fare) or a talking head on ABC are assertions. No news is completely unbiased, nor totally accurate. The audience decides whether to accept the statement (based on judgments about reputation and abilities of the news source). Eg, ABC is real likely to be able to talk to "unnamed sources in the White House". OTOH, I am not so few people (most likely none) would believe me unless I provided extraordinary evidence for my statement.

What are we really talking about? It appears to me that we compare the Internet in practice to its overblown hype. IMHO, ignore that hype and the problem goes away for you. The Internet provides rapid, cheap communication for millions of people. But it has no power to change people. People will still believe what they want to believe. Governments and other interests still issue propaganda. Most of our history is made up that way.

So people believe stupid things. You and I do too. What's the issue? Instead, you're noticing now what was always there. That's the power of the Internet. It delivers stuff efficiently whether you like it or not. Your job is to evaluate what you get and decide whether to act on it or send to the bit bucket. Further, the Internet isn't some relativistic soup where all statements are equally valid and no frame of reference exists. The audience has the power to evaluate the source (based on reputation and supporting information). If people fail to do that, then it isn't my problem. The Internet may be a morass but it is a navigable morass.

And as an nasty aside to the zillion K5ers who voted this front page. What were you thinking? Even the comments (including my sparkling gem) aren't that interesting. This is K5 real estate that could be used to discuss what color Natalie Portman's light saber would be if she were a Jedi knight! :P

PS, assertions (even outright, deliberate lies) convey information. The veracity or source of the assertion can be fake, but it's still more than you knew before.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Natalie Portman's light saber... (5.00 / 2) (#64)
by Bnonn on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 08:31:36 AM EST

White. Pink is way too feminine for a senator, and white would look damn cool as a light saber. It would also go really smashingly with that spiffy outfit she wore in Episode 2--you know, the one that got mostly slashed off by that oversized insect and was miraculously transformed into a perfect tank top.

Besides, all the other decent colours are already taken.

[ Parent ]

Sabre color (none / 0) (#73)
by krek on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 02:46:14 PM EST

Jedi Knights use green and blue light-sabres.
The Sith use red light-sabres.

This is Lucas's edict.

When making these new films, S.L. Jackson demanded a purple light-sabre.
Eventually Lucas gave in.
So far Mace Windu is the only one with a non reg/blue/green sabre.

[ Parent ]
Lucas is daft (none / 0) (#79)
by Bnonn on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 07:37:09 PM EST

I can understand Jedi all wanting to have the same coloured sabers to give themselves a kind of uniform(ity). But I always thought that a Jedi made his own light saber, and subsequently could make it whatever colour he chose. It seems unlikely the council would require all Jedi to have either blue or green; it's not like it would serve any purpose. Sith and Jedi are the only people who use light sabers, and it's not difficult to tell between them. The Sith are the ones killing people; the Jedi aren't.

I guess Windu wanted to be a bad-ass motherfucking rebel ;)

[ Parent ]

No (none / 0) (#83)
by krek on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 10:05:41 AM EST

It was never up to the Jedi Council. As I said this was an edict from on high... A message from the desk of God himself.... George Lucas.

[ Parent ]
Erm, yeah... (none / 0) (#85)
by Bnonn on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 04:14:53 PM EST

...well as a novelist I feel qualified to say that when you make an arbitrary decision like that, it's a good idea to actually have (or make up) a reason that works for the book (in this case, the film).

But then, I never thought George Lucas was a good writer...

No flame intended, btw. I just really don't think he's that great.

[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#91)
by krek on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 11:48:20 AM EST

That was kind of my point as well

[ Parent ]
How very PoMo of you (none / 0) (#82)
by Demiurge on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 06:00:20 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Explain please? (none / 0) (#94)
by khallow on Sun Jun 09, 2002 at 01:45:56 AM EST

I didn't grok the reference to "PoMo".

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

The amateur might just be there (4.80 / 5) (#35)
by thebrix on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 02:10:44 PM EST

After 11/9 I was fascinated by the amateur accounts of what went on; many were astonishingly vivid, and were written and posted on the Internet because the author was there and felt he or she had to say something.

In many cases I would prefer amateur over professional journalism for that reason; it is very unlikely that a professional will just happen to be at a major event and, when they get there, they will produce an article by filtering ... accounts of amateurs!

Another reason for preferring amateur accounts as above is that if something is incorrect, it can often be corrected - or at least challenged - instantly and obviously; such is the nature of the Internet.

Certainly in the United Kingdom, newspapers are proving desperately slow to realise that a story with factual errors staying wrong is no longer acceptable.

I used to work in air traffic control, and the quantity of errors in media articles about it - often propagated by copying from one story to the next - slowly destroyed my faith in professional journalism. Every letter of correction I wrote was ignored.

Both amateur and professional journalism... (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by Bnonn on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 09:03:18 AM EST

...have their advantages. I'm studying to be a journalist, and I definitely feel that while amateur reports can be more vivid and powerful, in the majority of cases professional is better when it's done properly. This is because amateur reports will generally vary so much that many will contradict each other on even quite significant details. Journalists need to know how to sort through the evidence and produce the most accurate view. This is often, of course, something of a judgement call, but accurate collation and presentation of data is something that a good journalist should be able to achieve, and it gives a more balanced view of events.

Additionally, journalists have access to a lot more sources than amateur reporters.

Unfortunately, most journalists are pathetic. I can personally attest to this, for I am studying with forty other individuals who are going to end up in the media. Not a single one demonstrates any real critical thinking ability, belief in the value of truth, belief that information wants to be free, or even the ability to remain as objective as possible by detaching oneself from one's personal feelings on a subject. In fact, few of them are even good writers, and some of them are literally semi-literate. They don't know what parts of speech are. Ask them about verbs and nouns and they may be okay, but don't go further. Participles and subjunctives confuse them.

These people don't care about what I consider to be the focus of journalism: the truth. They care about "getting the best story", advancing their careers and making money. They have average intelligence levels, minimal general knowledge and no desire to learn more than is necessary. I am perceived by them as being an all-knowing information god, yet on forums like kuro5hin I have never felt like I know enough.

I recall a deepening sense of despair during an argument one time in class. We were to write a report on a hypothetical situation involving an aircraft that crashed. We were given distances and maps to help us. Something seemed wrong, so I plotted out a basic diagram, which indicated that the plane, which was said to have "flown low overhead" must have dropped from about 200 feet in the space of 40 metres. Yet, the two eye-witnesses described its descent as a shallow glide, and the impact was relatively light. I tried to bring this up with the people I was working with, and got thoroughly ticked off for having the audacity to care about trying to present a realistic picture of what happened, or question the accuracy of the reports we were given. The sentiment was "who cares, as long as we get it done quickly? No one's going to know".

Who's surprised the media is such a steaming pile of rancid horseshit huh?

[ Parent ]

'Mature journalists' (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by thebrix on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 09:46:12 AM EST

What you say is no surprise, I regret to say, and 'done properly' is the crux. Very often journalism is not 'done properly'.

It strikes me that 'mature journalists' are desperately needed; people who've done something else and then moved to journalism. Or, alternatively, journalistic secondments to industry for a couple of years (probably in PR or marketing) to learn the ropes, as civil servants quite commonly do in the United Kingdom. Out of interest, are specialist journalists ever sent on anything like 'refresher courses' to update that knowledge?

A lot of the problems I see are a result of people completely out of their depth trying to write up something technically complex or subtle and coming up with a travesty: in some cases I've come across stories of six or eight hundred words where there are a dozen or more factual errors.

I could probably write 95 per cent of transport stories better than the people who actually write them but, on the other hand, I'd rather be playing my part in trying to sort out United Kingdom transport than writing about trying to sort it out. Come to think of it, that forms a self-fulfilling prophecy; knowledgeable people become disillusioned with journalistic mistakes and the lack of correction, so give up trying to correct them and become dismissive of journalism, so yet more mistakes are made which remain uncorrected ... and so on ad infinitum.

[ Parent ]

About specialists (none / 0) (#78)
by Bnonn on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 07:36:38 PM EST

I can't say if specialist journalists are ever sent on refresher courses; as I say, I'm still studying. I would hope so. I want to specialise in IT; working for a computer magazine would be a good start for me. For this reason I read kuro5hin, Slashdot, The Register etc a lot. I find the comments particularly helpful, for the very reason that journalists--even good ones--can never present more than a collated view, and often there are a lot of more knowledgeable people who can amend what they have said.

I would expect of myself to keep up to date in the area of specialisation I had chosen. I'm afraid I don't know how employers feel on the issue though.

[ Parent ]

Why would they be? (none / 0) (#89)
by dipipanone on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 04:47:16 AM EST

I can't say if specialist journalists are ever sent on refresher courses;

Of course they aren't. The whole point of being a specialist journalist is that you're continually staying abreast of the latest developments in your field. If you aren't sufficiently able to do this without having to take a course, you stand no chance of being able to work as a journalist.

Some may take sabbaticals to study something new in depth, but continuous education is an inherent part of the job.

--
Suck my .sig
[ Parent ]
You should at least help... (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by bjlhct on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 02:33:17 PM EST

From my bookmarks:

Crap Filter
Propaganda
Ultimate Meme

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism

It takes time (4.16 / 6) (#37)
by jd on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 03:10:05 PM EST

There can be little question, today, that the printing press has made it possible for ideas to be exchanged over space and time in a way that could never have been achieved before. That the writing down of ideas has fostered greater feelings of community, in the modern world, than it has hostility.

And yet that took almost a thousand YEARS!

The Internet, as originally devised, has existed for barely more than 30. In it's modern form, as a transport mechanism for Hypertext (eg: the web) with public high-speed access, it has existed for less than 7.

Give the Internet another 993 years, and if you still see so much global hatred, you have a point. However, I'm willing to bet that in less than 100 years (one TENTH the time the Printing Press took to complete its revolution) emnity of the kind you have been seeing will belong to the isolated few, who will be pittied by the remainder, not feared.

THIS is the greatest mistake today's generation is making. In the 60's, people risked literally everything for their beliefs. It wasn't just a time of strange substances or stranger politics, it was a time when "weirdos" would storm military bases and paint their aircraft & tanks in bright colours.

You won't see that in today's youth, or even the "middle-aged" geeks, like myself. We're too chicken-shit to stand up and DEMAND peace, even though we're bright enough to realise that we could, and that we'd probably achieve it, too.

(The Vietnam War didn't end because America had "won" - it got the crap beaten out of it. It ended because the demands for it to stop got too loud. "We the people" only works, if the people decide they have something worth saying, and make damn sure it gets heard.)

In this sense, the "hacktivists" have the right motives, although generally poor ideas on turning that motive into reality. The Internet WILL become a force for good and peace. Eventually. That is inevitable. The question is "now, or later". If we want "now", then we must stand up and demand "now".

What does this mean? This means turning up the volume of peace, until hatred simply gets drowned out. Hatred can't respond, by turning up its own volume, because it's a destructive force, not a creative one.

Ok, so how could people go about it? Well, if we follow 60's logic, we might start by infiltration. Find on-line groups that foster hatred and mistruct, and divide them against themselves. A house divided cannot stand.

Another option, for those employed by companies running the larger backbones, is to drop the more blatant spam. Hey, who's going to complain? Spammers generally use fake addresses, and spamming is illegal in several States & in the EU. The recipients sure as hell won't!

It's little things like this that can make it impossible for hatred to thrive. You simply take away much of the fuel, and it'll starve itself.

The reason the 60's "revolution" failed was because it became too occupied in that it was smoking, and not occupied enough on how it was living. The 60's starved -itself- to oblivion, ushering in the hollow 70's and the counter-revolutionary 80's. When your imagination kills the good it could have done, the consequences can easily be visited unto the 3rd generation. We've seen it. It's not because of anything God (or what we understand as God) might decide, it's because that's the price others pay for our consequences.

We can do better. If we want. If we want world peace, we can achieve it within our lifetimes. But we've got to want it bad enough to sacrifice the alternative. The previous generations could take a thousand years of struggle - inner and outer - costing tens of millions of lives - just to want peace bad enough to achieve it.

But all it would have taken was that first bunch deciding that peace was worth having.

A bit inward-looking, don't you think? (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by ariux on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:16:52 PM EST

How do you intend to convince the rest of the people of the world to share your admirable pacifism? Do you even speak a language other then English? Have you noticed that the entire world, much of it of its own accord, appears to be sliding down the chutes into vicious, bloody struggle?

[ Parent ]

we're not sliding down! (none / 0) (#63)
by Shren on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 08:21:12 AM EST

Have you noticed that the entire world, much of it of its own accord, appears to be sliding down the chutes into vicious, bloody struggle?

I've noticed the struggle bit. What I miss is the slide. Are you sure that the world hasn't been in vicious, bloody struggles for ages?

[ Parent ]

Languages... (none / 0) (#93)
by jd on Sat Jun 08, 2002 at 12:13:54 PM EST

It's true I can't actually speak other languages (well, "natural" languages, as opposed to computer languages), and it's pretty lame of me to say that I can remember enough French and German grammar to be able to survive with a basic dictionary.

How to convince others to work on the basis of pacifism... That's a tough one! About the best I can think of is that the stone-age settlement of Skara Brae had no internal violence during its 2,500 years. Why, is anyone's guess.

[ Parent ]

Those 60s myths again (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by pyramid termite on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 05:53:08 PM EST

In the 60's, people risked literally everything for their beliefs.

A few did. Some risked as much as they calculated they could get away with, if they had beliefs that required risking things. Most risked nothing, as they went along with the status quo.

The reason the 60's "revolution" failed was because it became too occupied in that it was smoking, and not occupied enough on how it was living. The 60's starved -itself- to oblivion, ushering in the hollow 70's and the counter-revolutionary 80's.

The 60s revolution didn't fail or succeed - it's still going on. I might point out that some of the main ideas involved were successful - that we shouldn't be in Vietnam and shouldn't draft people to fight in foreign wars; that the government should enforce racial equality; that artistic and cultural expression should not be regulated by the government; and that sub-cultural groups are a legitimate thing to belong to. Other issues, such as drugs, corporate control of society and the media, and government involvement in questionable foreign adventures have proved to be much thornier.

Just as the Love Generation was a creation of the media, so was the Me Generation, and Generation X, not to mention The Next Generation That's Going to Save the World For Us. It's all gross generalization that has hidden one fact - the number of people with non-conformist lifestyles and subversive ideas has steadily increased through the years.

I used to feel left out because I was 10 years old in 1967 and missed out on all the "fun". Now I think the most exciting and revolutionary times are just ahead of us. I honestly think the 90s were a much more interesting decade than the 60s were; even the music was almost as good.
On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Potential (4.40 / 5) (#38)
by sk0tadi on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 03:12:57 PM EST

What on-line communication has, that traditional
media doesn't, is the _potential_ for having
something refuted or supported  in real (for IRC) or
near-real time (everything else).

On television and radio you get a
report - from the anchor or announcer - and, usually, you aren't going to get refutation
or support from others who are part of what's
being reported on. Except for
the occasional "news discussions" (on television,
where they have, for example, a representative for
each different country involved in some conflict to discuss it), you'll get a single viewpoint, and that's it.

With a collaborative media web site like k5,
someone can report something that's happening somewhere (like India/Pakistan) *right now*, and people
from those countries can post comments to support or refute statements made in the article.

You can also go check multiple sources (check the k5 report on something, then the CNN report, then the Indymedia report) and draw your own conclusions. Granted, you can do this in real
life by checking multiple different news shows or
the like, but you won't get the breadth of information you'll get on-line, and you also won't
get viewpoints from random individuals somehow
involved in the conflict very often - you'll get the viewpoints of newscasters, diplomats, and politicians - who often have an interest in
presenting a story in a certain way.

Of course, whether you can *trust* people
who post on k5, Indymedia, CNN, or Joe's random
weblog is another story - however, the potential
remains; you can get reports from many different sources, and you can also get reports from people
who are right in the middle of the reported-on
conflict. Do you get that with traditional media?
No.

So no, it is not perfect, but it's an improvement,
and it has potential that other sources do not.


Potential (5.00 / 2) (#44)
by ariux on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 04:42:55 PM EST

...right, but in an environment where political sentiments find expression in email hoaxes and in rage-filled all caps forum posts calling for torture and nukings, it's not clear that this potential is being realized.

Perhaps we could do better in some way.

[ Parent ]

well (none / 0) (#72)
by krek on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 02:33:39 PM EST

It is up to YOU as a free thinking and moraly justified person to bring your opinion to these others and influence their opinion. Otherwise we all just keep on hating and distrusting. It is not the opinions that are important, but the discussion.

If there is something out there that you do not agree with, it is your democratic responsibility to debate with the holders of this conflicting opinion. If you do not, then who will?

Continuing to agree with someone after the fact is a waste of time, use your eloquence to convince someone else, or submit yourself to some outside eloquence.

[ Parent ]
Why the Net works better (4.75 / 8) (#41)
by dennis on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 03:57:03 PM EST

When you watch the news on TV, and they say something ignorant, you have no way to correct it. When they tell you things you know nothing about, you have no way of knowing whether people who do know the subject are screaming at their TVs in frustation.

On discussion forums like K5 and slashdot, people can post corrections. They can make counterarguments, and you can evaluate their sources and reasoning.

Sooner or later, we'll extend this to the entire network. We need a combination of bi-directional links and collaborative filtering. Checking backlinks in Google is a step in that direction.

RIGHT ON (4.20 / 5) (#42)
by turmeric on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 04:20:35 PM EST

exactly its just elitist hogwash. the newspapers in the early 1900s, owned by Hearst, singlehandedly started the spanish american war by blabbering incorrect crap. why? hearts was rich, he had stupid opinions, and he used his wealth to impose them on eveyrone. on the internet like k5, anyone can blast their opinions all voer the place. slashdot, salon, nyt, etc, those internet places are all still owned by elites. but places like k5 make the difference.

[ Parent ]
Public vs. elites? (4.50 / 2) (#50)
by ariux on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:13:39 PM EST

But mobs can use (and in history, often have used) their numbers for violence, just as elites can use their resources.

The problem of "who gets to incite the bloodshed this time?" is a different one from "how can such incitement, and the bloodshed it could create, actually be avoided?"

[ Parent ]

/dot (4.33 / 3) (#43)
by faustus on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 04:20:39 PM EST

Treating the most visible and pervasive positions as accurate leads to a mob's "truth of the loudest."
This is exactly what happens on Slashdot. If most of the users are left of left, Lunix lovers, then the "truth" on Slashdot emerges as a "Micro$oft is evil and should be nationalized by the state" mumbojumbo. Political blogs are the worst of the lot because all the right-wing, nuke Iraq, sites all link to each other in some self-aggrandizing mastabatory fashion; where the "right" answer is their own. It's just as bad, if not worse than traditional media.

[ Parent ]
Linking rebuttals (5.00 / 3) (#49)
by dennis on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:02:48 PM EST

So you read the blogs that make sense to you, and the discussion forums whose moderators seem to have a clue. Evaluate your sources. You have a lot more to choose from than you do in traditional media.

Plus, a lot of blogs have bought into a culture of linking to people who disagree with them. For example, Dave Winer at scripting.com does it a lot. Some of them have started publishing their referrer logs, so you have reverse links without relying on Google. If you don't agree with a weblog, and think it's worth your time, you can post a rebuttal that links to it, and readers of the first article can find your rebuttal. (Try doing that with your nightly news broadcast.)

Then you'll be part of the solution, not only by posting your rebuttal, but by posting a link to someone you disagree with.

[ Parent ]

yes... (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by faustus on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 08:18:10 PM EST

I understand the concept of what you propose, but I think it ignores human behavior. Much like communism, the people in charge of blogs always let their egos run wild, producing something in the image of themselves. Big time Bloggers are typically well educated, but generally mediocre writers in print journalism, or worse, whose names are swamped in the sea of total adequacy. Blogs therefore are ego-empowering vestibules allowing them to act out their fantasies of being like their favorite writers. Actually good.

Plus, a lot of blogs have bought into a culture of linking to people who disagree with them.

I will take contention with this point because the articles that they link to, that run against their own views, are most often designed to make their own points look stronger. If you link to an idiot which argues against your own points, you look pretty good. Humans love being right, once you have been right for so long, it's very difficult, and damaging to your self-image to admit to being wrong.


[ Parent ]
Compared to what? (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by dennis on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 10:29:35 AM EST

the people in charge of blogs always let their egos run wild

Um...as opposed to the people in the major media?

generally mediocre writers

As opposed to the people writing your newspaper, magazines, and TV news copy? I don't know what your hometown paper is like, but generally speaking the articles in mine are not exactly Pulitzer material. Some bloggers have readers in the tens of thousands, with no marketing - the quality of their writing and links is all they have going for them. (And if you want readers, some well-argued controversy helps a lot.)

I'm not blogging myself yet, but at this point I'm getting a substantial portion of my news and commentary from an eclectic mix of blogs, including professional writers, industry insiders, and intelligent amateurs. Slashdot and K5 are another big chunk. I check the NYTimes and such too, but I don't surf them directly as much as I used to - pick your blogs right and they find interesting/relevant articles for you, just like those expensive clipping services used to, from a much wider selection of sources than you can cover yourself. If I want a particular topic I use the Google news search (on the advanced search page).

I haven't watched TV news since last September.

[ Parent ]

Annotea (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by thadk on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 10:46:29 AM EST

Annotea needs to actually be implemented and used. I think if someone built a community around it like k5 and maybe add ratings for annoteations it would do great things for the web. Annozilla Client for Mozilla

[ Parent ]
`can' != `will' (none / 0) (#81)
by gidds on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 09:40:26 PM EST

But those corrections must be spread – which the net is not currently very good at.  How many people spread urban legends, hoax virus warnings, etc.?  Loads.  And how many people correct them?  Far too few.  And yet the correct info is there on the net, well researched and clearly authoritative (at places like The Urban Legends Reference Pages).

Openness does mean that corrections can be spread.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to mean that they will :(

Andy/
[ Parent ]

Just came across this quote.... (none / 0) (#90)
by dennis on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 10:27:15 AM EST

A lie can travel around the world while the truth is putting on its boots. -- Mark Twain

[ Parent ]
Internet is helping to prevent war (5.00 / 2) (#56)
by cronian on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 09:32:35 PM EST

First the Internet hasn't fully reached the world. Many people still don't have access to the Internet or only limited access through cybercafes.

Even after people get on the Internet they only read traditional sources of news. Others do not even adapt to getting news over the Internet at all. Only after they have used the Internet for a while do they vear away to site like k5, /., or indymedia that expose non-mainstream views.

Another thing is that TV is able to overshadow written media. It is a lot easier for many people to just watch and be told what to think on TV than read. Only when people have sufficient bandwith to get TV over the Internet will this be able to significantly change.

Yet despite these problems the Internet has allowed people to get alternative views and realize that there are different perspectives to issues. Just realizing that many people believe the Mossad warned Jews before 9-11 helps to better understand the world. As we communicate on k5 we probably closer views than we would have with others in our own countries.

I believe part of the reason for the 9-11 terrorism and Bush's war against terrorism is that the Internet is really bringing people together. Only through wars and the most extreme acts can people be pushed into jingoistic sentiments needed to justify wars today.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism

media literacy (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by blisspix on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 11:30:13 PM EST

This is why we have so many programs on media literacy, historiography, information literacy, etc.

This is not a new problem. For example, you will find many dissenting opinions about the Holocaust in print, and if you look at opinions published during and after the war, they will differ. Hence, why history students usually take a course in historiography in order to indentify bias and opinion.

There is no such thing as 'facts', there are only interpretations of the facts. By its very nature, the news is selective because it cannot possibly cover everything that happened in an event. Stories that try to avoid bias exacerbate this problem because they have to alter the facts to achieve a balance.

What is needed is not for dissenting, or incorrect opinion to be removed from the internet, but for people to be more informed about media and its constraints. There are many websites dealing with media literacy, and information literacy. If you are a student, take a course.

moral illiteracy (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by mami on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 12:02:50 AM EST

For example, you will find many dissenting opinions about the Holocaust in print, and if you look at opinions published during and after the war, they will differ.

There is no such thing as 'facts', there are only interpretations of the facts.

Well, you may be right, but the example you have chosen tells me that you can't be trusted. When it comes to life and death, there you have such things as "facts". Or can you be half death or just have murdered or just half gassed?

Seems to me you like to give the "Auschwitzliars" an argument to get away with their "interpretation of facts", because after all there are no facts. No way. There are facts all over, but some people like to pretend otherwise. No hanky-panky with simple facts just to sound smart, please.

[ Parent ]

Facts (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by ariux on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:40:11 AM EST

Let me argue the other side for a change, just because I think I understand it a bit, and don't want to discount it completely...

While there are in fact true things and false things, things that did and didn't happen, etc., the nature of information and of each individual's chronically limited access to it are such that, in practice, it's very hard for a given person to be able to tell about a given bit of it.

In fact, the main reason I posted this article was to bemoan the Internet's failure to do better than it has, to date, in reducing this problem wrt international politics and political flashpoints - many, I think, had higher hopes for it.

Some will try to turn this unpleasant realization into a bit of philosophical cleverness, and say that if they personally can't figure out whether or not something is accurate, the word "true" is really just a meaningless blob of noise - that attitudes are everything, and reality nothing.

(One might be reminded of Aesop's fable of the fox and the grapes, of Stalin's comparison of those who cast, and those who count, the votes, or of Goebbels' views about the relationship between people and their leaders...)

While it may be emotionally attractive to resign oneself in a bedrock, philosophical way to a permanent condition of imperfect knowledge, I think to overdo it by casting away any notion of truth is not only cowardly in a way, but also counterproductive (because if there's no such thing as truth or accuracy, you'll never seek or demand either). Beliefs won't save a falling person in the instant he or she encounters the ground.

So, ultimately, I'm not predisposed to give any medium, forum, or discourse a free pass as far as accuracy goes, especially in matters as grave as the political disputes that are condemning many real people in the world today to death and ruin.

I think there are more and less accurate kinds of information; that this is no less the case for the existence of multiple points of view; that media and the customs of their use can be more or less disposed toward the conveyance of better and more truthful information; that the young Internet is encountering grave problems in this regard; and that it is a legitimate technology and design question to ask how it might do better (though this question may in fact have no answer).

[ Parent ]

Related story previously on /. (none / 0) (#77)
by romanpoet on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 05:37:34 PM EST

JonKatz said something very similiar to this in January.

"The Net, it was originally believed, would be a "bridging" technology, one that would connect the planet. But the most interesting evolution in software in recent years has been code that permits people to narrow, not expand, their universes. Blocking and filtering software has become epidemic to product against flamers, crackers and spammers. The explosion in weblogs, specialized mailing lists, instant messaging and other so-called p2p media means that people online increasingly talk only to one another, not to people who are different or unfamiliar. The rise of this narcissistic communications is understandable, but it hardly is inclusive. People all over the Web routinely block and filter points of view they don't like or don't want to hear (or buy), so nobody online really ever has to encounter all that discordant diversity that digital technology makes possible. More disconnection. "



http://features.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/01/19/2346251&mode=thread& ;tid=126

Nonsensical arguments (none / 0) (#92)
by thebrix on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 02:03:15 PM EST

Apart from his curious definition of 'P2P', he seems to be suggesting that all communication is morally indistinguishable and equivalent. He is entitled to that view - presumably some sort of recasting of the First Amendment - but, when it comes to 'flamers, crackers and spammers', I don't share it.

I would also suggest that 'routinely block and filter' is done to:

i. give information structure;

ii. cut down on volume.

(On that theme, I would be interested to see what a non-specialised mailing list was like).

Finally, I suggest differing languages are the most insurmountable block to 'people who are different or unfamiliar'. And they existed before the Internet ...

[ Parent ]

Little info on war between "wired" state (4.50 / 2) (#84)
by Spork on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 03:59:19 PM EST

Despite these objections (and they do make sense and are based on good data), I still think that the internet might in the long run make war more difficult.

I live in the USA. We attacked Somalia when it was the poorest country in the world. We attacked Afghanistan when it was the poorest country in the world. We seem eager to attack Iraq, which is not quite the poorest country in the world, but thanks to US-imposed sanctions, poor enough to be unable to feed its population.

The point is that the USA is very good about bombing countries that can't "talk back." It would be a totally different matter if we attacked Russia or China, who could use the internet effectively to present their side of the conflict. At least I hope this is so.

In war, powerful countries can often count on having a monopoly on the media accessible to their people. The internet will make that difficult, though the great majority of people will be riled up enough to hate the "enemy" blindly and not even expend effort trying to learn how the war looks from their perspective. Still, most democracic countries will also have a pacifist movement, and they will be able to gather and disseminate the point of view of the other side. This will indeed help stir resistance to any war, forcing the government to make briefer attacks and pay some attention to not creating many publically-visible atrocities.

It won't be long before our enemies can afford very small cameras and the capacity to upload their footage to the internet, and when we see our armies from the other side, I have a feeling we will indeed be less eager to think of them as the corerect way of solving diplomatic problems.

War on the Internet: an Information Problem | 94 comments (87 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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