Friday, May 25, 2007

Processing Information

When I first got back to Hawaii in 1998, after being on the Mainland for 30 years since leaving after one year at the University of Hawaii, what was striking was that everybody from the editors of the newspapers to every letter writer to the editors, all were obsessed and preoccupied with telling one person, the Governor, what he should do to make the state of Hawaii better, or at least work. Implied, in such advice, was the feeling that the people could do anything themselves to make things better -- as though all power, rights and capabilities, were vested in one person. That is the height of centralization, totalitarianism and disempowerment, that seems to have been reversed in the entire intellectual climate of the state now.

So while seeming to be a very innocuous proposal, the Innovation Initiatives of the Lingle-Aiona Administration, are really quite a remarkable turnaround and recovery from those days of despair and futility.

I think government, and politics, is less and less about control and majorities -- and more and more about who just has the will to make things happen, without asking permission from every other, if they can proceed with their initiatives. If people have to obtain permission and consensus before they can initiate anything, obviously, nothing new can ever be implemented, because that whole machinery of seeking approval and government guaranteed funding, is a sign that one is on the lagging edge rather than the leading edge of any developments.

Any society that wishes to be truly “World Class,” is not doing so in wanting to soak up more than its fair share of subsidies -- for segments of society indicating they are hopelessly troubled, which is the justification for such funding. Those pioneering the leading edge, have to underwrite and subsidize themselves -- because that is the chance they’re willing to bet on themselves. That psychology is very different -- and determines and reveals real world class winners from those who would like to be but have no idea what that entails and means.

So it is good that we entertain these possibilities now -- rather than being first in line begging for federal funds because everything is going wrong and therefore we need such help. While we may get the money, the damage to our psyche and self-perception, is crippling and retarding. We should not be proud of the fact that our representatives in congress can convince the rest of the country that we are the most hopeless failures -- and therefore need the most help, and then finance projects that fail even more spectacularly as convincing proof of that disability.

The measure of a truly successful society is that the people feel and talk of being successful people -- rather than the downtrodden losers and entitled victims. That is the feeling of being World Class and not simply as a promise some time in the future if we only receive enough money, enough help, enough respect -- from somebody else.

Longtime residents of Hawaii are often proud that nothing seems to change -- which is the weakness of cultures and societies, and not its strengths. Change is not the bad thing many, and especially the “institutions” would like to convince us it is -- so they can perpetuate themselves, even when we are ready to move up to the next step, and no longer require them. That is what it means to grow up and be more human than we were before -- which is the fulfillment of government and society, and not just the struggle for who has the control and majority -- which is a petty thing in itself.


At May 28, 2007 10:10 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

In the old (obsolete) information processing paradigm, what was considered important was knowing the "average"-- when actually knowing the fullest range is much more useful.

The average serves its purpose when another (centralized processing facility) does the information processing for everybody -- but now it is possible for most people to process their own information with the raw date, and arrive at their own conclusions, or derive what they think is significant about the data, rather than somebody doing it for their own self-aggrandizement and agenda (usually) -- as "objective."

What knowing the fullest range of the information tells us, is the weakest link and the strongest link in the information gathering and processing. When that is not known, the certainty and validity of the conclusions cannot be determined.

The best example are polls -- in which many are asked questions to which they are unclear as to the meaning or intent -- and based on that, the sponsor of that information will pronounce there is a reliability of 3% on the accuracy of that poll, when in fact, most people did not even understand the question properly, or the question was deliberately deceptive and manipulative, as many (political) surveys now are.

It's actually gotten to the point that most political polls, surveys and testimonies are suspect -- and those provided with the particulars of the methodology, can easily spot the flaws. Usually it is something as obvious as an extremely flawed or manipulative question to get precisely the response they want. Most media polling is of that quality today -- and should be dismissed as that prejudice.

Studies and expert testimony are also subject to similar flaws because the researcher is biased to finding out what he wants to see. The scientific method relies on others to challenge those assertions -- but many go unchallenged because it is an untestable assertion. Explanations of the past are particularly subject to that kind of distortion -- because the only thing that can be tested, is the present reality.

But most people come to accept explanations of the past and the future -- over learning to explore the present reality as their "education." In that way, they become more "knowledgeable" but less capable of discovering the truth of anything for themselves, by themselves.

They are merely taught to accept and defer to the information hierarchy and status quo -- rather than challenging authority, which is the foundation of any truth. That manner of learning has been virtually abandoned and even condemned by the self-designated "authorities" who think it is "their job," to tell everybody else what to think and do.

That is the modern petty despotism one wants to detect and deal with in the course of their daily life.


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