“Trusted others” has been an issue here, and I haven’t found a way to handle it except by being circumspect, diplomatic, and in line with the run of the western opposition. The beauty of “open source intelligence (OSI)”, a very fancy way of saying one reads the news and socializes online and draws on that for commentary (it’s a hobby), is that it is open: the world that can access the Internet in English is reading off the same pages. Those of us in the “social network” here and elsewhere are pioneering together in time.
The only thing available to adverse parties in these online news and social zones is their own reflection: they are left reading about their image from multiple perspectives and sources, not that they don’t try to inform that image creation themselves. However, for political narrative, truth and its stability are easier to work with than the anarchy that comes of clumsy, doubtful, and self-serving fictions.
So pithy, I’ve assigned it to the “A Little Wisdom” section of this blog.
International trade and the Internet have altered the world’s boundaries in many ways, and with associated processes irreversible — some things cannot be turned backward — change in how we think about ourselves and others and our social and spiritual perception may be due.
“Google” has turned out a pretty good name for the past two decades of democratized intellectual exploration.
I’ve been calling “Time the New Space”.
We know what has been bothering (and bloodying) the world from the past: what lies ahead? What can be put ahead, i.e., developed now and placed in the future?
This whole conversation is a miracle.
The New Global Intelligentsia is going to be “new” for a while longer. It may be fragile too — too few where needed most — but perhaps growing peace is what time is for.
Time is the New Space.
When one can call in a pizza, Skype with a Facebook buddy 9,000 miles away, build a library, and fill a closet with one click (often enough), “space” — real space, earth space, physical space — becomes a little bit more recreational space and separate from common intellectual and social operations, including social and political projects.
No matter where one lives on this planet, very practically so, one may have a Great Conversation with countless others.
When the conversation turns to culture and conflict (for fun: add “language and psychology”) and the more callous mudslinging subsides or may be eluded by way of our aggregated and collective choices in conversational partners, watch out: change would seem to be in the offing.
Timeline for transiting from where we are (take a bearing) to where things are “a little bit better”?
Nonetheless, whatever the differences may be in our sources of laughter and moans, those with whom we “chatype” online or, perhaps, who stumble across this blog, are traveling together on one blue pearl of a planet now thoroughly wrapped in talk.
. . . we believe that the internet activism of today is best perceived as informed by the spirit of the EZLN, the ‘Battle of Seattle’, and the diverse amalgams of social movements and subcultures that have matured along with the new media over the last five years. This is the internet as a living, historical force and one of the keys to understanding and shaping the political and cultural life of the present age.
Kahn, Richard and Douglas Kellner. “New media and internet activism: from the “Battle of Seattle’ to blogging.” New Media and Society, Sage Publications, 2004. PDF may be found online.
Before the revolution, the Tsar in Russia had a system of internal passports. The people hated this system. These passports marked the estate from which you came, and this marking determined the places you could go, with whom you could associate, what you could be. The passports were badges that granted access, or barred access. They controlled what in the Russian state Russians could come to know.
The Bolsheviks promised to change all this. They promised to abolish the internal passports. And soon upon their rise to power, they did just that. Russians were again free to travel where they wished. Where they could go was not determined by some document that they were required to carry with them. The abolition of the internal passport symbolized freedom for the Russian people — a democratization of citizenship in Russia.
Three of the government bodies designated by Reporters Without Borders as Enemies of the Internet are located in democracies that have traditionally claimed to respect fundamental freedoms: the Centre for Development of Telematics in India, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in the United Kingdom, and the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States.
The NSA and GCHQ have spied on the communications of millions of citizens including many journalists.
Then too I might want to work in resurgent eastern European nationalism (Hungary, Lithuania) but such complexity leads to specific foreign desks: again, our ability to survey may far outstrip any near potential to intervene between the repressed and subjugated and their tyrants.
Also, a map illustrating combined democratic and human rights levels of success might look quite different from one focused on international conflict. We would have to work in Cameroon (Paul Biya) and Zimbabwe (Robert Mugabe) for that and perhaps give South Africa (Jacob Zuma) a bit of a once over too.
* * *
How are we of the democratic open societies doing?
Not so well.
We may glimpse all of it all at once, it’s true, but we may neither focus nor attend to it all at once.
In the week the above video has aired on YouTube, more than 2.1 million viewers have accessed it, which is kind of cool with our brave new high-bandwidth-Internet world, but what can those do?
Ask the same question about the deep and expanding hellhole in Syria.
We know we know we know.
We can send band-aids (and the Israelis can put them on the Syrian injured it has today in its hospitals), but we can’t (yet) quell it.
Still, we’re connected and where others are in real trouble, we may either hear them or know they are screaming:
NORTH KOREA’S four main political prison camps are known only as No. 14, No. 15, No. 16 and No. 25. All are modern-day gulags. According to a new report from the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea, the population of the camps, now about 80,000 to 120,000 people, may have declined somewhat because of releases from a fifth camp, but also because the remaining prisoners are being exterminated.
We — a fragile but growing and robust global political intelligentsia — are all over this stuff.
I’ve promoted a concept here: “malignant narcissism” and a lightweight approach, perhaps, toward the psychology of the dictator, the followers, and, ultimately, the better tendencies of the humanity of humanity.
Expect Edward Snowden’s breach of his NSA nondisclosure agreement to burn its way around the world.
What is freedom if it is not the ownership of one’s communications with assumed privacy?
What is security if it is not the state’s ability to operate “listening posts” to detect malice against those it has been charged to defend?
I have said of the Islamic Small Wars, and as much may be said of all organized crime and political terror, that they are wars for poets and detectives, the former because 1) what takes place in the mind takes place in language, and 2) what takes place in real space involves the most private forms of collusion and operational communication.
The recapitulation of international web traffic that starts at the Internet’s trunk lines, the robotic sifting for strings and patterns or known quantities, one might call them . . . I’m not sure that bothers me so much.
I am more concerned when the FBI ignores or overrides a valid and reliable Russian intelligence tip-off and Boston marathoners and their families and friends lose their lives or legs: what motivated that negligence before the fact?
I’m also annoyed a little bit about the web bots watching my online shopping and pressing me to buy whatever I’ve browsed on every other Facebook or online news page.
In the end, if we don’t like so much electronic snooping, we can, I suppose, resume living locally and hope the bar, the coffee shop, the barber’s chair, and the local park are not infested with bugs that never bite but only listen.
A killer-soldier, allegedly of the Free Syrian Army, knifes the heart out of the chest of a battlefield casualty and bites into it.
In numerous videos: beheading.
From combat footage: jading, numbing recordings, from clinical green-screen Apache strikes to anti-tank weapon and RPG-abetted tank kills.
In the news: the aftermath of bombings of every kind.
And you are there!
Already this morning — by 5 a.m. — I have either seen or been shown (both) drone footage of Taliban types planting a roadside bomb and, a day later, footage of an army vehicle being blown up at the same spot (while what looks like a mine sweeper stands off about 25 yards ahead of the blast).
Could have been a training clip, a how-not-to, punched up online as “testimony” to defense contracting conspiracy.
* * *
About ten years ago in the forums of a completely unrelated industry (fashion photography), some then idiot posted a link to the green screen cockpit recording of an attack against Muslim terrorists transferring weapons out of the back of a pickup truck. Outside of Hollywood, which had the inside track on the look of night vision technology, few civilians had ever seen anything like it, and the clinical “range control” chatter and aim-and-shoot routine may have added to the outrage of aesthetes and tall girls.
Ah, those were more innocent days!
The imaginative wonders supplied by Stephan King notwithstanding.
It seems yesterday’s idiot would be a great — and entertaining! — Facebook buddy today.
* * *
The ever present advanced guard of sophisticates might argue that the world is the world, dude, get used to it.
I have gotten used to it, and, dude, that’s the problem.
* * *
As we drink the world through our eyes and ears planted before hundreds of millions of computer monitors and gadget screens, should we wonder about the depth of our own depravity and jadedness in our having sought, perhaps, to see and hear too much?
Setting out to “track” conflict and related themes, whatever the motivation*, necessarily involves turning up unpleasant media and engaging as witness and commentator with the tragedies of the day, but one needs also to defend one’s humanity, more specifically an empathy with others, a sustained sympathy for the suffering, a whole response to encounter, even and especially online, and that as opposed to a clinical, jaded, and numbed reduction to political or other engineering devoid of sentiment.
So here I may be ready for some extended web-free “R and R”.
The Internet won’t care if I absent it awhile: it is a cold medium, more the invention of engineers than of poets, more the province of marketers, programmers, and pollsters intent on dipping into lives and pockets for gain than of artists and scholars delving into language and exploring the contours of the heart for a greater good.
*Between advanced degree work in English and social psychology, a stint within the Office of Naval Research (public affairs environment, no clearance), enthusiasm for writing, and a well rounded American experience, I happen to think I’ve been cued and cut out for this sort of thing.