Friday, October 07, 2005

What We Need is an INFORMATION Superhighway

The biggest complaint of people living or visiting in Hawaii, is the lack of timely, good, unbiased information -- for which they think the traditional forms of the commercial media, should have as their duty, as the presumptive self-anointed fourth branch of government. However, that status is not a legal obligation but just the media’s selling point -- to their readers as well as advertisers. Unfortunately, in this model, information that is not profitable to propagate is usually not -- and the advertising medium may even insist, “If you want your word to get out, you’ll have to buy advertising, or we’ll provide only misinformation free.”

The editors become very powerful under this arrangement -- while assuredly, the public grows less powerful, less able, less informed, of all the options, and not what just one self-designated person (of limited understanding) may want everyone to know. In that information paradigm, hoarding information has value and profit to a few, controlling self-interested parties -- while the general public (consumer) is at their mercy.

We see this disadvantage often in even that last bastion of imagined free speech -- "the letters to the editors" -- in which what is selected and published, is whatever the editor wants to be revealed and not the total submissions, as their own exercise of power and importance. Few can resist abusing this trust -- especially in a culture in which everyone wants to get to the top, but few know what to do once they get there, except to keep everybody else down.

But the possibility now exists that there can be a total exchange of information -- if it becomes government’s quintessential task. The reason people make bad decisions is usually that they’ve been misinformed, rather than being inherently stupid. News and education have now become supplanted by the more generic information process -- because the technology that came into existence widely only ten years ago, made such a thing possible. It has produced such a rapid evolution in awareness that “computer-literate,” has become the new standard for being a literate, informed person.

It is not education per se that is valued; it is the information transmitted in that process that has value -- and now it is available to anyone who desires it. Of course, that has profound implications for those who have traditionally considered those activities “their turf,” which are the newspapers, schools and universities. It challenges and breaks down their exclusive authority by virtue of being in the proper pecking order -- and having “paid one’s dues.”

Two major controversies in political discussions today really boil down to this: that Bev Harbin in Hawaii and Harriet Miers in Washington D.C., have not properly “paid their dues” and moved up through the ranks in the "approved" fashion -- compliantly putting in one’s time, and in that process, becoming so inured to a way of doing things, that one no longer has the valuable insight of a newcomer (outsider), to recognize that things aren’t right just because it’s always been done that way. That is the new blood and ideas that every organization needs to stay vital, vibrant and relevant -- ready to take on new challenges rather than just retreating to the comfort of the unvarying past, merely repeating itself, as though there is no benefit from learning anything, and that improvement or any other way is not possible.


At October 07, 2005 10:44 AM, Blogger LagunaBum said...

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At October 07, 2005 10:49 AM, Blogger Rosa Benito said...

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At October 07, 2005 10:51 AM, Blogger TomLop said...

Hey, you have an enlightening blog here! Excellent job. I have a home school information site. It pretty much covers home school information related stuff.

Come and check it out when you get time :-)

At October 07, 2005 10:51 AM, Blogger Travel Business opp. said...

'The media' vs. 'We media'
"There's a huge fissure within Big Media. Some get, some don't - and some never will." Mainstream media executives should be doing more than heeding these words from journalist and citizen media proponent Rory ...
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At October 07, 2005 4:04 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

What always cracks me up is on learning of these abuses in the media, they hire a reader representives, ombudsman, public editor, etc., who is a longtime insider to defend these practices and do damage control -- lecturing the individuals for their lack of trust in their objectivity and fairness.

They deserve to go down -- in a cruel and agonizing death.

At October 08, 2005 7:27 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Democrats' Blind Spot
Posted 10/7/2005

Politics: President Bush's popularity ratings may be low, but Democrats seem unable to take advantage. The party's operatives blame bad tactics. The real problem is bad ideas.

Democratic consultant James Carville last week treated students at Northwestern University to quite the Freudian slip. "Sometimes," he said, "the problem with being a Democrat is being a Democrat."

And he complained of speeches by Democratic candidates that amounted to "litany" — reading out a laundry list of the things they would do for this demographic group, and for that special interest. What Democrats who want to win office have to do, he said, is cut that out and become good storytellers on the stump.

It's a delusion that harkens back to the days of Ronald Reagan, whose success was attributed by those in the opposing party not to his winning the battle of ideas, but to his knack for spinning grandfatherly yarns.

Truth is, the Democratic Party's base has for many decades consisted of a list of groups waiting for government favors — big labor, radical feminists, the ACLU, the AARP, etc. So why wouldn't their campaign speeches sound like litanies?

Other Democrats have a more realistic perspective. A new study sponsored by the centrist Democrat group Third Way and written by Elaine C. Kamarck and William A. Galston, two of the architects of Bill Clinton's 1992 election victory, concedes that Democrats can no longer win elections simply by mobilizing their left-wing base — because there simply are not enough left-leaning voters.

In the end, however, Kamarck and Galston are missing the forest for the trees as much as Carville. It's the Democratic Party's cherished beliefs that need reexamining, not its methods. And one of the more curious articles of faith at the higher echelons of the Democratic Party is that Al Gore is a genius.

In his talk at Northwestern, Carville suggested that Gore's failed campaigns proved him to be a victim of his own wisdom. But Gore's IQ came into real question last week as he gave a speech to a media conference in New York and warned that "American democracy is in grave danger."

According to Gore, "the 'marketplace of ideas' that was so beloved and so carefully protected by our Founders . . . effectively no longer exists."

Has the former vice president heard about the Internet? (Our apologies. After all, Gore once claimed to have invented the Internet.) Has he heard of blogs? Or even cable TV? This is an age when more diversity of political opinion is available than ever.

Gore went on to complain about the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine and other governmental regulations of opinion over the airwaves. He claimed that this led to hatemonger talk radio, and he talks of the White House sending out "squadrons of digital brownshirts" to harass journalists.

What Gore's really objecting to is the new availability of ideas through new information sources that he and those who share his beliefs haven't yet found a way to control.

And sadly, what Kamarck, Galston, Carville and other members of the Democratic brain trust refuse to accept is that it is America's revitalized "marketplace of ideas" that is causing problems for a party so tied to an outdated big-government philosophy.

At October 08, 2005 8:30 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

It's not saying a lot for yourselves, when in a democratic country, the only way you think you can win, is by suppressing the opposition.

At October 09, 2005 7:35 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

You don't really have a free society (republic), if people cannot say the truth without fear and intimidation -- and essential to that truth is speaking without the need for anonymity. The anonymity permits abuses that posting and writing under one's true identity does not occur.

The biggest abusers are the newspapers -- claiming anonymity and confidentially as essential to their revelations -- that one can only speak the truth under anonymity -- which means there's no responsibility and accountability for their speech. I think that is misreading and misunderstanding of the essential element of free speech and the freedom to speak the truth.

Freedom of speech is the right to speak the truth -- and not have to hide the fact of who you are to do so. If you can only speak the truth anonymously and in fear of retribution, do we really have freedom of speech?

That is one of the great challenges of the broadcast media and the newspaper ethics. We're all grown up enough to realize how they manipulate information to say what it is they want to say, though polls, studies, sources they wish to reveal while suppressing others they don't want to get out. Anonymity allows them this opportunity for mischief. It is because there is total availability of information unedited, uncensored and unbiased like these forums and blogs, that there is a truer picture of the totality of information available -- and not just what the powers that be would like -- to maintain their monopolies.

Why shouldn't a person speaking truthfully and responsibly have to fear revealing their identities and the identities of their sources? It is merely a pretext for abusive speech, deception and manipulation.

At October 09, 2005 7:48 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

One of the things I've always noticed about internet and other communications, is that legitimate people always reveal who they are, or don't try to hide that fact, while dishonest, unscrupulous, deceptive and fearful people use anonymity to misrepresent themselves and gain an advantage. For some people, the process of communications is for that purpose alone and always -- to gain an unfair advantage.

It would seem to be essential to the new paradigm of information that all the information is revealed so that one can make the best decision possible -- without the deception and manipulation characteristic of the old media.

Otherwise, we still have the same old problems of ignorance, misinformation and disinformation -- just done better, and that's not our ultimate objective. We want to eliminate ignorance, misinformation, disinformation, deception and manipulation.

At October 10, 2005 2:02 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Who elected George Will?
October 10th, 2005

The conservative punditocracy is spittin' mad at the President for nominating Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. I've never seen anything like it --- rioting pundits! Ranting constitutionalists! All the big names, it seems, are agin' Ms. Miers in a unified towering rage. We've learned to expect this sort of outburst from Ted Kennedy and, but not the level-headed thinkers of the Right.

In fact, what's really going on may resemble the rantings of the Left. It has the same quality of narcissistic entitlement. We know that Ted Kennedy always felt entitled to be President, and is still enraged at his own failure every time he denounces George W. Bush. We know believes with passionate intensity that it is the vanguard of the working class, or the feminist movement, or the gay rights coalition, or some other self-satisfied group of narcissists who know with all the certainty of divine revelation that they are the answer to all our problems. It is disappointing, to say the least, to see the conservative elite reacting in the same overwrought way to its sense of lost power in the Harriet Miers case.

The elite of conservative opinion feels entitled to control President Bush's Supreme Court nominations. In their minds they own the short list of candidates, because they have worked and slaved and argued for a true conservative jurisprudence for three decades. Well, bless them for their dedication to a good cause. But who elected them? Last time I looked, the Constitution gives the power of nomination to Presidents, with "advice and consent" to the Senate. None of the pundits have won an election.

In fact, every single conservative commentator owes his or her success to somebody's intuitive judgment. George Will owes his influence not just to his talent and insight, formidable as they are. He owes his job to Katharine Graham, or whoever else it was at the Washington Post that made the decision to hire and keep him. And their decision was outstanding, even though they could not predict the future George Will any more than we can predict the future John Roberts or Harriet Miers.

How do I know this? Having sat on my share of graduate admissions
committees, I know darned well that no one can predict, based on GRE scores, recommendations, essays, or any other known bit of information, who will succeed in graduate school and who will not. That question has been studied for a century since Alfred Binet created the first IQ test, and we still don't know how to do it. Even less can we predict who will make a wonderful scholar after graduate school, or who will make a great lawyer or judge. This is a simple statistical fact: At the upper end of the distribution there are no provable differences between talented people.

If we can't do that in the case of admissions to competitive graduate
schools, how likely is it that we can do it at the Supreme Court level,
several career leaps beyond any graduate school? Maybe John Roberts is one nose ahead of Harriet Miers in the statistical horse race. I'll bet that on any objective measure of intelligence or achievement the difference is statistically close to zero.

What we do know is that lifelong habits and beliefs predict future actions. Harriet Miers directed the reviews of all of George W. Bush's judicial appointments. If we want to guess at the future, we cannot do better than to look at all those appointments, and ask, "What kind of woman would vet so many judges with a consistent judicial philosophy and habit of mind? How likely is that to shape her view of future Supreme Court cases?"

I'm sorry to say that my heroes, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Bill
Kristol, and my heroines like Ann Coulter are now committing exactly the same rationalistic fallacy for which they justly criticize the Left. They believe they know the answer, when in fact they have merely fallen in love with their own intellectual image.

James Lewis is a frequent contributor.


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