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I said

> The increase in variety is real, but governments are busily using the same
> technologies to build some hefty attenuators.

but should have added amplifiers too.

Dai

On 3 March 2010 20:52, Dai Griffiths <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> My working assumption is that you are right, and I suppose it has to be as
> I have spent the last fifteen years telling people (in one way or the other)
> that the Internet and IT in general have the potential to make their lives
> better. But I have a nagging feeling that this is an item of faith rather
> than a reasoned position. I've got two worries.
>
> 1) The statistical aggregates are relevant, but there are hands tightly
> gripped onto the levers of power, and if anything is going to change there
> has to be a mechanism for the statistical aggregate to take effective action
> in the world. Recent attempts to change the political reality (Malaysia,
> Iran...) have been unsuccessful, while some largely pre-internet initiatives
> were successful (1986 People Power revolution in the Philippines,
> Ceaucescu's fall in 1989). I'm not saying things are getting worse, just
> that there isn't a pattern yet which demonstrates that the Internet is
> enabling change.
>
> 2) The increase in variety is real, but governments are busily using the
> same technologies to build some hefty attenuators. This is most obvious in
> China, and so far the government seem to be keeping the lid on quite
> effectively. My impression from the (admittedly few) conversations I have
> had with Chinese people about the rights and wrongs of the Tibetan and
> Uighur situations is that their view is par for the course for citizens of
> an imperial power that is consolidating its position.
> In the UK the grotesque increase in surveillance is part of the same trend,
> and goes ominously hand in hand with Big Media's lobbying to enable the
> state to inspect our internet usage. I don't see much popular awareness of
> the issue in the UK, where the consensus seems to be "Our policeman may not
> be quite as wonderful as we thought, but really bad things only happen to
> foreigners. And as long as we don't have to carry around a plastic card in
> our pockets it'll all be all right".
>
> So it's cautious optimism for me!
>
> I just read Little Brother, a novel by Cory Doctorow which is (I think) a
> very good imaginative representation of one way that the current threats and
> opportunities presented by the Net could play out. You can download it from
> his website.
> http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/
> It's really aimed at teenagers, but I didn't find that any kind of problem.
>
> Best
>
> Dai
>
>
> On 3 March 2010 19:59, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> Dai, to follow up my usual intemperate and spontaneous response to your
>> message........
>>
>> i really don't believe that we are faced by the sort of dichotome you
>> suggest. I think all the signs are hat (a) will happen, and that (b) is
>> being fuelled by vested interests (vested in the past - of all interests and
>> persuasions).
>>
>> The reason I think this (along with Clay Shirky and others) is the law of
>> numbers. Whereas certain f my peers have believed that complexity theory has
>> had relevance in social affairs and I have insisted that the numbers
>> involved for statistical significance  makes such a claim untenable, I
>> believe that with the Web, statistical aggregates starts becoming relevant.
>>
>> And, further, Dai, I, being an optimist - as regards human beings - feel
>> that this will work against institutions, the State and other social forms,
>> because - as Stafford Beer insisted - they have not got the requisite
>> variety to deal with it.
>>
>> Sorry, Dai, don't know whether you are familiar or not with 'Stafford'
>> jargon (as in 'variety').
>>
>> Roger
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On 3 Mar 2010, at 18:37, Roger Harnden wrote:
>>
>> Dai - I'm not sure who you are, but I totally go along with what you say,
>> and, more importantly, with what you say about which doors we attempt to
>> push,
>>
>> Hello, and best wishes
>>
>>
>> Roger
>> On 3 Mar 2010, at 16:34, Dai Griffiths wrote:
>>
>> I agree, and appreciate the judiciously placed scare quotes around 'the
>> others'.
>>
>> A friend of mine when in Spain was shaken to be rescued from a car
>> breakdown and subsequently fed by a crew of friendly passers by who happily
>> announced "We're fascists".
>> The Internet makes that kind of contact much more likely, by removing many
>> of the filters which operate in day to day life (it is typical that my
>> friends contact happened after a breakdown in normal activity). But, for
>> better or for worse, the Internet also reduces the social damping on
>> interactions, including on insults and provocation.
>>
>> It's not clear to me how this balance of "more contact with the other /
>> less social control over provocation" will work out.
>> Will the Internet
>> a) help us to see that 'the other' is not simply an evil entity that
>> should be destroyed, but a human being with whom we have a potential/actual
>> problem that needs to be resolved? (Uncomfortable for all of us to some
>> degree, as Roger suggests).
>> Or
>> b) will it be an flame war that grows until it reaches critical mass, when
>> it spills out into unthinking destructive action?
>>
>> I see both as possible outcomes. So more practically the question is, what
>> interventions could be made to nudge the Internet towards a).
>>
>> Dai
>>
>>
>> On 3 March 2010 16:42, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>>> The interesting thing about the future of internet is that it will cut
>>> through ALL OF OUR prejudices.
>>>
>>> Sure, the red-neck hill billy will have a voice, as will the Islamic
>>> fundamentalist, as will the atheist, as will Roger Harnden - but ALL of them
>>> will be in the mix, and only some of them will be attractive to 'all of the
>>> people all of the time' (Bob Dylan).
>>>
>>> The only ones scared of it should be those of us - and that side of EACH
>>> of us - who feel uneasy about co-existence with 'the other'.
>>> And, every State and every Prejudice, will be scared by this and will
>>> attempt to diffuse the possibility that all ' the others' have a voice.
>>>
>>> And - Frank - this is not because of any intrinsic 'big brother' or
>>> 'expertise - but because the Web is uncontrollable except in 'local
>>> pockets'.
>>>
>>> The Web itself is not a vantage or pulpit, but a CHANNEL or an order of
>>> magnitude greater than any that might have been conceived by McCluhan.
>>> Pulpits and expertises will hustle each other for space in this medium, but
>>> each will fail - or, more accurately, will rise, variously dominate, and
>>> disappear in an endless flow.
>>>
>>> Roger
>>>
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>
>
>

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