Wednesday, 4 January 2006

We the people

Craig Murray- remember him? - has an ineresting analysis of why some people who have recently breached the Official Secrets Act have been prosecuted while others, himself included, haven't had their collars felt by the bill or the front door kicked in during the early hours. He also highlights that the torture memos appeared on over 4,000 blogs within 72 hours, I wonder how many other PCs have copies which aren't publicising the fact? On both sides of the Atlantic and across Europe more and more people are asking questions about the governance of both the UK and the US - this isn't new, Britain has a history of pamphleteering.
Take the growth of political pamphleteering as a potentially informing example. When the printing press became a public instrument in the mid-seventeenth century, the autocratic voice of England's King Charles I could no longer remain discrete, inexorable, or unchallenged. Pamphleteers could sound off to their allies and adversaries alike in the form of one-cent* printed flyers created with Gutenberg's moveable type. This free (relatively speaking) flow of expression gave birth to the British Civil War.
This is from a really interesting piece about the cultural repercussions of the print and digital media and can be found here. It's been oft stated that the web was the next step in empowering anyone with access to the technology but now everyone, even those who can't hack a bit of HTML, can publish and be damned using blogging software that takes out the need to know a tag from an attribute and an absolute to a relative reference. Can we change the world, if only just a little, using blogs? Will articulate bloggers suffer by being drowned out in the Tower of Babel that is the blogosphere? Will we learn to find and trust reliable commentators for the 21st century? Will we ever teach the Americans to spell? :-)

* It's very unlikely that the people paying for pamphlets in 1641 used cents though we did have a dollar and a half-dollar from the 16th century!

12 careful considerations:

TRT said...

Just watched that Derren Brown thing. THAT's scary!

kat said...

Have you read a book called 'The Wisdom of the Crowds'. I haven't but I read about it here and wondered if the book was worth reading.

Bluefluff said...

I wonder how many other PCs have copies which aren't publicising the fact?

One here, for a start...

Thanks for the update, Nog. 4,000 is an impressive number, & way beyond the abilities of "them" (if we're doing us & them) to stifle.

Nogbad said...

What a brilliant link Kat - thanks! I haven't read the book but this piece links a lot of other stuff - Smart Mobs springs to mind and the roles he suggests can be mirrored in the roles found in conventional organisations where gatekeepers have access to information and boundry spanners actively search out new information and pass back the finished or manufactured or value added product. The idea of companies sponsoring organization wide blogs makes perfect sense in terms of organizational learning theory - what better way of the whole company keeping in touch with what's happening internally and in the environment? Many companies run into trouble becase they contimue making the same mistakes, they have no central store of information to learn from. This lead to the growth of CRM software some years ago but blogs seem to make far more sense because they are far more free-form. In other contexts - think of the "quilt" of web pages created by, for example, OU students and then overlay the dynamism of blogs and find some way of searching through the blogs of everyone studying a particular subject......... Yummy!

Nogbad said...

Didn't see Derren Brown GW - what was it about?

TRT said...

He did a mock 2 week "motivational techniques for middle managers" course, but really he was "programming" them to act impulsively. He selected 4 of the 20 originals for a "follow-up" series and had them driven to a street alongside the Bank Of England which they had to walk up. They were carrying fake pistols which were given to them during the 2 week course, and then 3 of the 4 held up a security van delivering/collecting cash boxes. It was quite scary how he did it, with trigger words, music and colours. These were delivered by way of the media stream (billboards, car radios, company logos etc).

Nogbad said...

Eeek! And this is entertainment???? I watched Halle Berrie with some bloke in a fast car. The car was lovely too - an AM Vanquish. The star was Halle Berrie and there was another attractive lady. The story was a bit thin, lots of running around and shooting and violence and explosions but Halle Berrie was excellent. Did I mention Halle Berrie? :-)

TRT said...

I think you may have mentioned her...

You can get Halle Berrie calendars for half-price at WHSmiths now, you know.



If Derren Brown walked into your shop, or your bank or enrolled on a course or something, you'd just run a fucking mile, wouldn't you? I mean, the guy can't have any friends left can he? You'd never know if he was trying to pull one over on you to get another few hundred K out of Channel 4. If he asked you to cash a cheque, you'd be all over it with a fine tooth comb.

Nogbad said...

I haven't got a calender this year - gonna stick with last year's as I like the pictures (Manchester!). I never know what day it is anyway so Outlook looks afer me (on the PC and PDA).

Not sure what Derren Brown looks like but I'll ask around - not sure he'd come looking in a tiny little village for people to con - not really a large telly audience.

Bluefluff said...

Just followed up the money link - where's the ordinary 3d? Silver threeepences were for special occasions, never actually spent as far as I recall (they weren't even around as currency when I was little) but you could get a bar of chocolate with a normal 3d ("threppenny bit")& they carried on into the 60s.
Piccy here for your younger viewers :-)

Bluefluff said...

Interestingly, the paper you quote is undated, & the most recent work it cites is from 1996. That suggests it was written in the very early days of the web (& certainly before blogs were thought of).
The author points out that pamphleteering was absorbed & emasculated by the dominant culture... a warning perhaps, for those who would commoditise & standardise the anarchic blogosphere?
Just a thought :-)

Echo Mouse said...

clearly, I have a lot of reading to do. Great links!

Derren Brown..... that I have to see for sure. Scary.