Blogging and Bloggers are a problem to authoritarian control. But they are not a problem for truth and a better society.
Obama, Berlusconi, US Federal Reserve. Take some notes.
- Fabio Chiusi is not the problem – he is part of the solution.
- We bloggers are here to help you get things right.
- Failed Bank Robbers may be too stupid to know they are too stupid to be bank robbers which could evoke “diminished responsibility”. This might also apply to you.
- The Federal Reserve needs to be shut, or shut up.
- We are here dealing with unknown Unknowns that don’t get to see the light of day without us.
This is way off topic for The Rome Journal, but something that initially was a private irritation has now become more and more relevant to Italy and Rome, and the internet and bloggers…
Blogging and bloggers have become critical to information flows, and it is under threat. Not just here in Italy Gagging Blogs – Click here – In Italian but around the world. Even Obama, who was basically elected on the groundswell of support through the blogosphere, has opined that the blogosphere should be reigned in.
The private irritation I have carried has been about the property bubble and how millions are now left with huge debts, no retirement savings and deeply depressed. Without going into detail here, it was all foreseeable and avoidable, had there been more bloggers around through the early part of the decade.
The problem was that there was limited voice against the exuberance. The majority of people get their information and ideas from Television and Newspapers. Unfortunately, both had a big stake in keeping the bubble going. Television expanded in to a phenomenal amount of programmes from Property buying to renovation (and invented the word “property ladder” to replace “market” – subtly implying it was a one way bet), and newspapers enjoyed ever increasing revenues from advertisements.
We all know how it ended and the result. No point in blogging about that much now (except to ensure the next bubble doesn’t occur).
But many more important things continue (including the hangover from the vast expansion of debt over the last 15-30 years). The main stream media (MSM) cannot completely cover all the micro environments of information that the blogosphere can.
The situation in Italy regarding new laws that inhibit the free discussion on the internet is not just an Italian problem. In fact, there were a couple of articles recently that really brought home the importance of blogging (and commenting – which I will expand below).
First, an article in the Telegraph by a well respected economist, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. Ambrose generally is anti-establishment in his views economically, calling into question many of the MSM views on the economic situations in various markets and countries. His article is about a member of the US Federal Reserve trying to imply that bloggers should not be commenting as they didn’t understand what was going on – and the US Fed did. I won’t explain the entire discussion (Time to shut the Federal Reserve – Click Here – In English), But as Ambrose implies, a child of 10 could have run the US Federal Reserve more responsibly and more effectively that that lot has done.
The simple fact is that bloggers were pointing out “in real time” the stupidity of the Federal Reserve policies, and the USFed were finding it very difficult to maintain the attitude.. “we are much brighter than you and this is too complex for you – just leave it to us” (…while we completely trash the US economy and bring the world to its knees. Oops. Sorry, but we really are clever so leave it to us again).
A second article, around the same time, painted a picture of why the Blogger/Fed Reserve dispute highlights why bloggers have become not only useful but almost critical to understanding micro issues in depth.
This is a tremendous series. Not to be consumed start to finish in one sitting. It needs digesting as it is a series of five articles on human psychology. The Anosognosics Dilemma
But a quick overview. If a failed bank robber was too stupid to be a bank robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber — that is, his stupidity protected him from an awareness of his own stupidity. Basically, this little gem has become known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect — our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence.
That, of course, applies to bloggers, journalists, politicians, bankers, investors, etc.
In order to keep this short, there are a few key factors about blogging that make it much more important, valuable and powerful than the MSM.
Passion. A hired journalist must write about their hired subject or follow the editorial requirements of their time. Bloggers write about what they are passionate about.
Knowledge. Many (certainly not all) bloggers are actually experts in their own field who publish directly. Not journalist jack-of-all-trades who are susceptible to information overload and PR distributed interpretations of events.
Time: A blogger doesn’t have to write. Editors in the MSM are constantly searching for news that will interest the people who buy their daily paper or watch their evening news. Making sure they get the next “sale” is more important than real news, and they have to produce daily.
To me, the most important development over recent years has been that blogging has changed from a “I was here, and I am going there tomorrow – look at my pics” to being everything from that to the Paul Krugman’s and Ambrose Evans-Pritchards who are not journalists per se, but run a “blog” effectively on the back of well respected Newspapers.
In between, are the real gems. You no longer have to read the company report to know what is going on with X or Y bank. You can now read the daily blog of a trader on the floor that day. You don’t have to read the Press Release of the Charity handing out mosquito nets in Africa. You can now read the blog of the person who is actually doing it. And by reading this, you start to understand so much more, and in real time.
Real life people doing real life things. Not celebrities, not famous sites or journalists controlling the debate.
Unknown Unknowns are a critical piece of information made famous by a man who was too stupid to know he was too stupid to do his job. Donald Rumsfeld. Blogs and comment sections give us the critical insight into the unknown Unknowns. Those angles and ideas and facts and interpretations you didn’t know were important or a significant factor at all. To me personally, the phenomenal increase in mortgage debt over the last 10 years has been a screaming indicator that the housing market was heading for a cliff. Most people never knew this was even a factor.
And in reading widely both articles and blogs, and just as important “comments”, I am learning about all the unknown unknowns in many other aspects of society, economy, politics, security, wine, sunflower oil, human rights etc etc.
This is where all bloggers are important to the discussion.
It doesn’t matter if a blog is dealing only with unloading crap to clear ones life (http://www.365lessthings.com/) or a guerrilla war being waged in Papua in the fight for independence from Indonesia. It all contributes to the discussion and information. And if you are blogging, you are probably reading other peoples blogs, and more important…. Commenting.
Comments are critical. A blog without them is flat, dead, lifeless. This is because it is in the comments that you find the real time validation of the text, or the straight out dispute of the value of the text. In addition, people often bring the critical “unknown unknowns”. These days, if there isn’t room for comments in a blog or a newspaper article, that piece of text remains nothing more than the opinion of one person. The comments ARE a significant control feature that Fabio Chiusi talks about, to ensure it is not simple drivel. That applies to Newspapers as well.
And this is where Govts and leading organisations need to butt out. There is no danger that a blog becomes popular unless it invests a huge amount in truth, value and public interest. It will be naturally voted up or down on that basis. In sharp contrast to massive financial backing ensuring success of MSM outlets. Money shouldn’t buy the truth.
Lastly, I hesitate slightly with this one, but Blogs can become an open University, which have masses amounts of information to research, and allows endless (if you really want) opportunities for discussion with like minded (and very un-like minded people). And like much in the University fold, a lot is old, rubbish, propaganda and fellow students can be intelligent or… otherwise.
The internet without the blogosphere is just MSM, company’s selling stuff, facebook and email. It really would cut the heart out of the internet to have blogging restricted or removed. And the governments know that.
Of course blogs aren’t always good, and can have adverse effects, as has recently happened in the case of Shirley Sherrod (Obama finds the internet bits back. – Click Here).
But that could be balanced against the complete failure of the MSM in the lead up to the Iraq war.
In addition, sites like Wikileaks (10 greatest scoops – Click Here) and Zerohedge.com (who do the same thing in the financial world) cannot be left out in any discussion about blogging (but once these are included, it is more correct to say “alternatives to MSM” as blogging isn’t quite what they do).
To me, the most important of Wikileaks efforts has been the exposure of the “content filtering” being proposed by the Australian government (listed in their greatest scoops above). It was proposed to stop child pornography and any “sick” internet sites, but of the actual list of sites blocked only 50% fell into that category, and the rest had nothing to do with it. They included “…Wikipedia entries, YouTube videos, fringe religious sites, fetish, straight and gay pornography, and even a travel agent’s website and one of a dentist in Queensland.” Once the censure begins, we can’t actually know where it ends.. due to censure.
People don’t sit on the right or left politically any more. By throwing aside the “book learning” from schools and entering the cachophany of opinions on the net, it is clear that people have a much more complex view of the world, and understand the world is more complex.
When put into Google, “why blogging is important”, it feeds back all the reasons why blogging is important for “self promotion”. I have no issue with that, but Blogging is much more important than that. By reading a blog you get to understand more about the world, different thoughts, ideas you never thought of.
Typing “why blogging is socially important” just changes the same results but feeds only those that relate to social media promotion.
Why is it even more important now than ever?
With the state of economy, and the scandalous management by governments who have no idea what went wrong (too stupid to know they are too stupid… and to whom we are trusting to put right ?), there is no more important time for the public to be involved. Not just on “economics”. Economics is the start, but it effects so many people in so many ways, and many of the so called solutions are to disenfranchise the already weak and disenfranchised further.
Even the Amanda Knox case, that has been torn apart from every angle, has been enhanced by recent opinion on the general impact on Italy, US, and different citizens. We hope to add another angle shortly with the treatment from an international human rights perspective (a paper on the subject has been submitted to us – awaiting final approval). But the most important part is that those 3 people, and Meridith, have never had a better chance for justice because of the wide range of discussion.
It is not about knowledge. Knowledge is important. But the most interesting part is the variety of interpretation. How one interprets their experience or knowledge. Like two people walking into an Italian restaurant, and there is no menu – the waiter just tells you what there is. One person interprets this as “this is wonderful! They get the food fresh and tell you what they have that day”. The other thinks “same old shit here as everywhere every night, why bother with a menu”. Same information, same situation, completely different understanding of why. As my father used to quote all the time as he encouraged arguments… If you only know one side of the argument, you know little of that… So change sides and argue the contra”. Good practice.
In addition to attempts to privatize the internet (currently in discussion with the US FCC and the major Telecom carriers), laws that limit the discussion on the internet impact on all of us. Governments know very well how to introduce any controversial control systems. First propose a law that is so outlandish that a huge groundswell of reaction is created and huge energy from the citizens beats it back. Then, admit defeat, and quietly reform the initial legislation to include only 50% of the previous controls. The public think they have won, and the Government has taken another giant step forward till the next time (at which point the “starting point” of the control system is already much higher).
We all must oppose these creeping infringements. Whether you go and protest today in Piazza Montecitorio, or simply take the time to read and comment as usual, you are supporting maintaining a very powerful new tool in the world today.
If you are interested, signatures are being collected against this law at the following… http://www.valigiablu.it/doc/162/no-legge-bavaglio-alla-rete.htm – 5718 signatures as it stands at the moment.
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