promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

A digital revolution

In Individual Sovereignty, media on February 23, 2010 at 2:34 am

While most conservatives in America believe government is too powerful, leader of the British Conservative Party David Cameron, says its the people who are gaining control.

In Camerons opinion, control is shifting away from large national governments to the individual. In a recent TED talk, he attributed the transfer of power to the information revolution.

Weve gone from a world of local control, then we went to a world of central control, now were a world of people control, Cameron said. Were now living in a post-bureaucratic age where genuine people power is possible.

While the British Conservative Party and its leaders politics are far from perfect, Camerons belief in the empowerment of the individual through the information revolution is revolutionary. According to him, the revolution can alter both society and government.

We believe that if you give people more power and control over their lives, if you give people more choice, if you put them in the driving seat then actually you can create a stronger and better society, he said. And if you marry this fact with the incredible abundance of information that we have in our world today, I think you can completely, as Ive said, remake politics, remake government, remake your public services. 

The explosion of information and technology has dramatically changed the world in which we live. Most importantly, it has empowered individual users in ways never before imagined. Now it is the people, not a select few, that control the information flow.

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  1. you shud be senator ;))

  2. Jessica,

    I would love to see an accurate curve of “government control” over the last 70 years. The closest I can find is a curve of government spending over that time. If the curve goes up, government achieves more power or control, if it goes down government control diminishes.

    NOW, do you and your British friend really think “the people” are regaining control or is government on track for more and more accumulation of power? Wonder when the current curve will bend down?

    Anson

  3. David Cameron’s opinion, as stated in this article, is naive and, ironically, uninformed. He believes that “…genuine people power is possible…” as modern developments “…give people more choice…” and an “…incredible abundance of information…”.

    Modern developments in information technology are, like guns and butter, mere tools that can be (and already are) employed for both noble and evil purposes. Cameron alludes to noble possibilities. Reality, at this moment, is that the most powerful entities in society have the most resources with which to exploit the newest tools.

    It is already apparent that the abundance of information includes an excessive proportion of crap. Large and disparate segments of American society are comfortable with having their “choice” handed to them in easily-regurgitated form. It is beyond consideration to exert a little thought and effort to find the abundance (yes, it’s there!) of useful and decent information. Instead, the lowest of least common denominators is applied; this sometimes includes plagiarism for newspaper editorials and comments.

    The people are not ‘gaining control’. They are necessarily having to be more vigilant to maintain position in a gale wind of propaganda and manipulation.

    Some TED talks are really very good. Check them out at [www.ted.com].

  4. Jim,

    ” …be more vigilant to maintain position in a gale wind of propaganda and manipulation.” I like that phrase.

    I once completed a very difficult three month period the successful completion of which was a requirment to continue in my naval career. When it was over the ten of us that got thru were exhausted. One sage, using a parody on Teddy Roosevelt’s “in the arena” speech said the following:

    “We have gone one on one with victory and defeat and are now unable to distinguish between the two”.

    I am not sure who “the people” might be, but as a person I feel that way when viewing our current political landscape.

    Anson

  5. Believe it or not, the current unprecedented level of access to information enjoyed by “the people” can be a detriment as much as a means to power. The problem is that such large number of “the people” have never learned how to objectively research anything. They’ve never learned how to at least disrupt if not disconnect their personal bias when they are pulling in new information. They fall prey to one of the main human frailties of the information age, which is to believe exactly what they want to believe and disregard the rest. Too many shut off the second they run across anything that may call into question what they already think they know. Too many reject out of hand any information that comes from a source with which they have disagreed in the past, or worse yet, steadfastly refuse to even view or read anything from those sources. Conversely, too many will swallow anything that reinforces what they think they believe or comes from a “my-opinion-friendly” source, no matter how far-fetched, nonsensical, or just flat out untrue. Unfortunately, the explosion of information not only gives them new sources, it also gives them far more outlets that can cater to their exact bias, reinforcing their one-sided views.

    Therefore, the end result of that lack of ability to research is that many people will use the vast amounts of information not to learn or expand their intellectual horizons, but to reinforce preconceived notions. For example, they’ll find a website that has information that jibes with what they so desperately want to believe is true, and latch on to it like a starving puppy onto momma’s teat. From that point, no amount of fact can dissuade them. After all, they have proof! They saw it on “teh interwebs”, so it must be true! Governments and other organizations that live on public opinion can easily use this weakness to their advantage. You already see it with paid advertisement web sites disguised as testimonials or unbiased reviews, and talking points being published as thought they were factual information. You see it with opinion shows on cable news networks that far too many believe to be actual news programming. This will increase as organizations learn how to manipulate the easily manipulated.

    The answer to this is definitely not more control over the information. The answer is to make certain we start young and teach people to effectively question what they believe they know. Not that they have to change their opinion every time they get any new information, mind you, as a large amount of any new information they receive may be complete crap or propaganda. One probably doesn’t need to spend a lot of time reading the latest “Buddha was a Nazi!” pamphlet, for example. But they need to learn to open their minds to at least give new information the level of attention it deserves, and to be open to the idea that perhaps there is more to the story than they already know. People have to learn that no source is 100% correct, no ideology has all the answers, and just because they have believed something to be true for their entire lives doesn’t mean they aren’t 50 years worth of wrong. They have to be taught how to distinguish between opinion and fact, especially when it’s being intentionally disguised by the source. They need to understand that in the majority of cases the more someone bristles at being questioned, the more they attack those doing the questioning, the less likely it is they’re telling the truth, as if they were dealing with facts they would have the confidence to let those facts be scrutinized. They need to learn to in some ways go back to being two years old, so that every time they hear something new they can effectively and without bias ask “why?”, then immediately be able to revert back to adulthood and try to find the answer. And they have to understand that when they do get an answer to “why?” they have to follow that up with “why?” again. In short, they need to be made to understand what it means to learn, then be willing to actually do it in spite of the fact it can be extremely painful to occasionally have to face up to how wrong you’ve been.

    It takes a lot of digging to loosen minds that are firmly entrenched, and I’ll readily admit I’m not certain the best way to go about it. But until we do, this wonderful access to information that Cameron and others like to tout as the next revolution has a good chance at backfiring and creating people who actually know less than they ever have, and are less willing than ever to question what they believe to be true.

  6. Nonny,

    Yet everyone of “the people” have the opportunity to vote, some more than once and some use surrogates after they are buried.

    Anson

  7. Exactly, Anson, and they go to the polls believing they know everything they could possibly know about the candidates, their positions and policies, and how to “correct” any issues they believe we are facing. After all, they’ve heard and read all the opinions of those who already agree with them, so what more is there to learn? Additionally, politicians write proposals on ballots in such a way as to make it nearly impossible for common people to know what they actually mean (Question One: DO you not support not supporting the support for not supporting a non tax of not more or less than not a dollar? Or not?). Suggest that there should be some sort of knowledge test to allow someone to vote, and many will bring up (with a bit of merit) the idea of the poll tax. It’s a conundrum. We’re back to “the more you know, the less you know” with a large percentage of the population. So again, it isn’t the volume of information. It’s the lack of ability to use it among the people.

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