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March 06, 2007


Seeta Peña Gangadharan

What you're talking about vaguely reminds me of the Kroker's "new leftist" critique: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.02/leftists.html.

But more importantly, what's the solution... build a bloggers' union? or better yet create a bloggers' code of ethics? or even a programmer's union or code of ethics (uh wait, isn't that what CPSR is supposed to be)? a new social movement to take down the Google's of the world? learn the joys of open source programming?

Knowing that there are groups out there like Hacktivismo, I'm not too pessimistic... but I agree that wider awareness of the problem of "technocracy" is in order.


Your observations are certainly well taken, and I agree that “we” all must remain vigilant and freethinking. But at the same time, I don’t think that this is in fact a new problem. Media outlets and politicians have always been prime targets for those with deep pockets. And before the internet—or, if you want to go way back, the Xerox machine or even the printing press—the barriers to entry to opposition were almost insurmountable. This in part inspired the U.S. courts to give (some) protection to the lone pamphleteer, but how effective is such localized, erratic dissemination of information.

The internet lowers those barriers and actually gives me greater hope that people won’t just accept whatever fodder comes out of the mainstream media, that at least alternative viewpoints—whether it takes hacktivism or whatever else…

The hardest thing though just seems to be a knowledge barrier about what is “real” or “fact” and what is an opinion or one-sided or less than a reliable source. I spoke with a local high school government teacher while doing some research for our group project, and we got into a discussion about his students and their consumption of online content; I was totally blown away with his remarks regarding how they viewed the reliability of the information. This meeting was right after that link to the article about the college forbidding formal citations to Wikipedia was emailed to the list, and it came up in our conversation… his comment was that all of his students accepted everything that they read online, as long as that information conformed to their preexisting viewpoint. So my question is, who do we build in reliability? How do these people that we are going to education know who to trust and who not to trust? Or will this just facilitate people in validating their predispositions as “fact”?

Will Carr

Jenna Colley, are you the journalist from UT and Stanford and Houston/Austin Biz Journals?

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