a meat-vessel, with soul poured in (wellelp) Sun 23 Mar 03 12:17
Are there statistics about the number of people who use the web for anything more than email and shopping? For those that do use the web more, are there any clear demographic trens? I suspect your democracy answwer lies in these statistics someplace.
David Weinberger (dweinberger) Sun 23 Mar 03 13:21
1. I hope that there will be an impact on governance but I'm waiting to see signs of it. Same old white guys, same old agendas. Maybe it'll be truly generational. 2. There must be statistics about usage somewhere, but I am fact-averse and reality-challenged. 3. Who my favorite Beatle is should be obvious :)
LoRayne Apo (lorayne-apo) Sun 23 Mar 03 15:59
Recent internet demographics (age, shopping, e-mail, etc.) as well as feedback from survey participants regarding internet's impact on politics can be found at: http://www.ccp.ucla.edu/pdf/UCLA-Internet-Report-Year-Three.pdf Interesting: -- Approximately 45% of users surveyed felt (agreed/strongly agreed) that the internet helped them better understand politics; -- Roughly 45% of people did not feel (strongly disagreed/disagreed) using the internet gave them more political power; -- 50% or more strongly disagreed/disagreed that the internet gave users any additional say in government. What I believe we are seeing is a cultural shift. The age bracket of political power in this country is older than the age bracket of highest internet use (ex: Bush is 57 years old; in his age bracket, only 50 to 60% use the internet; in the 16-35 age bracket, usage runs from 97% to 83%). Until either elder citizens in political power use the internet as much as junior citizens, and/or until today's 16-to-35-year-olds reach political power, there may be a disconnect between the internet's users and government. This may be the new digital divide. It's not the haves-havenots, in terms of economics; it's have-internet-accumen/have-political-power.
LoRayne Apo (lorayne-apo) Sun 23 Mar 03 16:11
<scribbled by jonl Sun 23 Mar 03 21:20>
LoRayne Apo (lorayne-apo) Sun 23 Mar 03 16:46
<scribbled by jonl Sun 23 Mar 03 21:20>
David Weinberger (dweinberger) Mon 24 Mar 03 19:04
<scribbled by jonl Tue 25 Mar 03 05:10>
LoRayne Apo (lorayne-apo) Mon 24 Mar 03 20:07
There are no guarantees; we're talking about humans. They're fallible, frail; certain "laws" of human nature aren't likely to change. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely -- unchanged since man first lead other men. There are dynamics on which we can hedge. First, the internet allows for a freedom of information that the current press structure does not permit. Information wants to move; it will, it does. Our challenge is finding ways to reduce barriers and encourage other media to compete with the internet, make the freedom of information movement so much a competitive edge that not offering it as a feature is a detriment. (Look at al Jazeera -- don't you believe that the American press envies the way they distribute anything, everything? We need to demand that as consumers. We vote with our feet.) Secondly, there is a growing critical mass of people who are younger that expect and demand freely moving information. They will question obstruction (they hack to get around them). Looking at population growth, there are two large groups -- the Boomers and Gen-Y, very close in size. Gen-Y has a very different expectation of media and politics than Boomers/Boomer parents had. We have the advantage to align with Gen-Y, meet their needs, encourage and educate them. This is in the best interest of future democracy. Ignoring them will surely encourage them to be fascist in their own way. We need to learn to let go of this wave we're on and work on catching the next one. Thirdly, there is no stopping globalization; it's a corollary of the law that "information wants to be free". So do people. Real global organizations can't rely on the silos that traditionally support corruption. The Bush Administration is an example of a failing silo of power; the previous administration understood that real power comes not from operating inside the isolation of a vacuum in the global community. The more sticks/fewer carrots for working in a vacuum, the less likely we'll see this model. It wont' be entirely up to us, the world is encouraging this shift. Fourth, the pending change of demographics will demand a change. The U.S. is only half the size of the EU by population, although it currently is the largest economy. As the EU grows into its power, the U.S. will need to shift to keep up. I truly believe our traditional power base won't survive. Lastly, we do have a chance to change everything with each election. Look at how different our world became with a single presidential election. Should we do everything we can to promote the election of a candidate who understands and believes in the free movement of information, we can change the prospects for the next generation and the impact of the future on ourselves. Its just going to be damned ugly until these dynamics really kick in.
David Weinberger (dweinberger) Tue 25 Mar 03 05:01
LoRayne, well put. For me, the question is whether those dynamics are going to be strong enough to overcome the current political systems' will to survive and their continued concentration of power...and their ability to corrupt leaders, as you begin your piece by mentioning. Maybe I'm just depressed watching my generation's leadership be stupider, harder-hearted and less connected than my parents'. I feel enormously empowered as a consumer, thanks to the Net, but more powerless than ever as an American citizen. (Sorry for the delay in responding. I'm on the road with only occasional Net connectivity.)
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 26 Mar 03 20:01
(David's traveling, so I delayed posting another question by a day.) I'm struggling to figure out how to address the complexity of today's politics. I do think that "people" have power, but really smart people don't quite know how to manifest their intelligence as part of the feedback loop. Consider world affairs today, life during wartime: the leaders are all playing to the media. Everything, even the war, has a PR aspect. They're playing to an audience of "ordinary people." They're polling, and responsive to feedback. But what kind of feedback are they getting? How do the David Weinbergers make a difference, over the responses of zillion Hank Hills?
Christian Crumlish (xian) Thu 27 Mar 03 08:20
Hi, David. I'm guessing your favorite Beatle is John Lennon, but it's not obvious to me. I'd rather know your favorite philosopher. One of the early hypertext web experiments was a hyperlinked version of Wittgenstein's Tractatus that was eventually quashed by a German publisher, I think.
LoRayne Apo (lorayne-apo) Thu 27 Mar 03 08:35
Jon and David -- what's exasperating for me: seeing old (older?) dogs learn new tricks and the younger dogs (who already know and even teach the tricks) falling apart. We already know this drill: Organize to gain critical mass, around a fundamental shared vision. Know your enemy. Use what works and use what THEY don't have that works. Regroup, measure, keep doing what works. Or in other words, change management executed at societal scale. Why can't we do it? Because we haven't started, haven't gotten to step one. We haven't itemized what it is we share in common to state that shared vision. We're too scattered, thin, even though were a majority. We know in general who the enemy is, but it's bigger than one or a half dozen people. We know what works -- THEY use it (media). We used to use it. We have newer, faster tools at which we're adept (see Moveon.org's experience) which we can and should deploy. And we haven't had the BIG chat -- what happens if we get within a week of the election and we're certain the candidate with than 10% of the vote won't win a prayer, let alone a state. How do we swing the less than 10% over without the loss of their vision? Cant we have a leader that 51% and less than 10% can get behind? Did we learn anything at all from 2000 about shared vision? Would that be an enormous improvement over this shared nightmare? Now the challenge: David Weinberger is a published author. Name recognition, entrée to places that some Jane Doe like me doesnt have, the authority to call together individuals of like-mind. Use it. Be the magnet, be a shameless catalyst. Use the knowledge you have if the intenet is a weak unifier, what works? Can we build a meme that will catch fire? If we cant know exactly what will emerge, we can be certain nothing will emerge if we put no intention behind it. Use it...that's where the David Weinbergers make the difference. Nuts, that does sound a lot like <i>Use the Force, Luke</i>, doesnt it? Whatever, the message is the same. Empower yourself to be the change you want to see. We all have to quit waiting for rescuers and rescue ourselves. I guess thats what a market does when it doesnt get what it needs most desperately; it catches the Cluetrain and builds its own product.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 27 Mar 03 19:07
Something else where David and I are both involved, among others: http://www.greaterdemocracy.org That might be a good place to start...
LoRayne Apo (lorayne-apo) Thu 27 Mar 03 19:42
So? Jon, David, using the precepts outlined in Cluetrain, how do you propose to help move or lead greaterdemocracy.org towards a critical mass? Maybe this is where the meme starts. Light the match!
a meat-vessel, with soul poured in (wellelp) Fri 28 Mar 03 18:16
Another question for David: is there any way to fix reputation systems so they are more meaningful? You talk some about eBay, and how the feedback has become almost a bribery system--you give me a good rating, I'll give you a good rating. So I pretty much ignore all those lovely 99.999% positive ratings. I know from personal experience someone with an agenda can screw you and there's nothing realistic you can do about it. Is it possible, once a more effective reputation system is developed, to make it common Webwide? And I want to thank you for a lovely turn of phrase on page 158: "...the yellowed tip of Aunt Elise's vulpine left incisor." I laughed out loud at that.
LoRayne Apo (lorayne-apo) Wed 2 Apr 03 16:04
Things look awfully deceased around here, but I'll throw this out here in case anyone is interested, speaking of political empowerment: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/jmoore/secondsuperpower.html
David Weinberger (dweinberger) Thu 3 Apr 03 11:14
I haven't responded because I've been in Italy with my family. I'm just back. Mightily jet-lagged, but back. Easy questions first: Favorite Beatle: John. Favorite philosopher: Heidegger. Reputation management systems: A Web-wide one would scare the bejeezus out of me. I like the *idea* of Whuffie in Cory Doctorow's "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" but how to get there is a tad mysterious. Does Microsoft get to administer it? Or the SEC? Yikes! On politics: I dunno. I wish I did. Shall we say that my despair about it is due only to being sleep-deprived? Sure, let's say that.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 4 Apr 03 04:43
Getting back to #87: one thing we've talked about at Greater Democracy (but we haven't really done enough about it at this point) is the need for "progressives" to do what the guys on the right did: brainstorm to a set of goals, objectives, and strategies that define and focus specific positions that we can hammer on and make real the way the Republicans have done. It's their organization and certainty that makes for wins in the political arena. We may be talking about the anarchists' convention, though. David, any jetlagged thoughts on getting organized?
David Weinberger (dweinberger) Fri 4 Apr 03 14:31
Jon, I'd love to see some sites emerge that are online think tanks, combining blogs, longer-form essays, wikis, discussions, etc. I think that such sites have more effect if there's a stable of regular participants, although I know there are arguments against this type of "elitism." But I wish I understood better how the Right did it. Clear and simple ideas, sure. But also discipline and a sense of humor. (Rush Limbaugh is a big, fat FUNNY idiot.) But it took more than that for the right to take over the center. I wish I knew why drive-time America can't stand liberals. Maybe the Web will let us do what we've failed to do with AM radio. Myabe.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 4 Apr 03 19:12
Could it be that they can't stand liberals because they're communists? I mean, really - the right just took the freight that was attached to the word "communist" and attached it to the word "liberal" - and voila, they'd forced liberals to pretend they were something else, ultimately changing label (to "progressive.") How long before Rush et al replace "liberal" with "progressive" in his rants? But I do think it was more. I think they worked to get their people focused, and I don't know how to focus a room full of progressives, because diversity is what it's all about, no? On the other hand, diversity of opinion means it's hard to keep everyone on message. The other thing is that Republicans come on like grownups. I hate that.
David Weinberger (dweinberger) Sat 5 Apr 03 06:28
By "grownups" you mean (roughly) realists, i.e., the "manly" virtue of presenting bad news fearlessly? Why doesn't hope have any appeal any more? That used to be the difference between the left and right. It's why conservatives are called "conservatives": fearful of the future, they clung to the past. Maybe this is the connection between the Web and the left: both are about hope. Maybe emergent democracy is really emergent hope. Why did hope stop counting politically?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 5 Apr 03 15:04
By grownups, I think I mean people who seem to have it together, even if they don't. You know how it is when you have that moment of epiphany, the realization that your parents really didn't have everything under control? Then you extend that to everybody else, and realize nobody knows what the fuck they're doing half the time. I like Suzuki Roshi's comment "perfect existence through imperfect existence," though...
LoRayne Apo (lorayne-apo) Sat 5 Apr 03 17:36
"Come on like grown-ups" -- meaning, they use demographics and marketing surveys and spin doctors, I mean, marketing managers and copy writers -- that's nothing that any one going to business school didn't learn. That could be part of the problem; the distribution of business types by political orientation could be skewed against people with the skill set needed. But if Bill Clinton could master it, it can be mastered again. What we need to find is that core group who can handle the packaging and marketing. The other problem, as I see it, is that both the left and the right don't see that balancing a budget, protecting the environment and increasing homeland security are not mutually exclusive objectives. The platform the Dems published for 2000 was so damned broad that it should have covered everyone; perhaps it's that the message isn't crystallized clearly enough so that everyone realizes it's their platform of choice.
the invetned stiff is dumb (bbraasch) Sun 6 Apr 03 20:24
Focus that thought on the blue states and you get a different sense of the problem than if you look at the whole puzzle. They've changed the game now though. Fear is way outselling hope.
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 7 Apr 03 09:41
Fear of being exploded to bits rather than fear of living under a bridge and eating dogfood in one's declining years seems to be the big shift.
the invetned stiff is dumb (bbraasch) Mon 7 Apr 03 10:46
Fear of being blown to bits while living under a bridge and eating dogfood would be more rational. I think a lot of the blue state people would be more afraid that the red state people would start showing up looking for less crowded bridge dwellings.
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