Does Google have a responsibility to help stop the spread of 9/11 denialism, anti-vaccine activism, and other fringe beliefs?
By Evgeny Morozov|Posted Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, at 7:43 AM ET
In its early days, the Web was often imagined as a global clearinghouse—a new type of library, with the sum total of human knowledge always at our fingertips. That much has happened—but with a twist: In addition to borrowing existing items from its vast collections, we, the patrons, could also deposit our own books, pamphlets and other scribbles—with no or little quality control.
Such democratization of information-gathering—when accompanied by smart institutional and technological arrangements—has been tremendously useful, giving us Wikipedia and Twitter. But it has also spawned thousands of sites that undermine scientific consensus, overturn well-established facts, and promote conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, the move toward social search may further insulate regular visitors to such sites; discovering even more links found by their equally paranoid friends will hardly enlighten them. Is it time for some kind of a quality control system?
Robert Steele: I am disengaged from Phi Beta Iota most of the time, but this piece was brought to my attention with the observation that it combines a claim to legitimacy involving Stanford University and Foreign Policy (no longer a serious rag, now a sub-set of secrecy & rendition apologist The Washington Post), and that it appears to be an early shot in a new national security propaganda theme aimed as neutralizing the use of the Internet for self-education. When Obama said in the State of the Union that it is known kids do better when they are forced to stay in school until graduation, I was sharply critical–the reality is that the best and the brightest leave school as soon as they can pass the GED, realizing that rote learning of old knowledge from poorly-paid burn-outs is not the way to “jack in.” What we have here is a very troubling indicator that the New America Foundation (wittingly) and Slate (perhaps unwittingly) are now part of the domestic propaganda arm of the military-industrial complex. The idiocy and illegitimacy of this piece should not have to be pointed out, but since Slate, which I thought had educated leadership, evidently saw nothing wrong with this piece, I will just point them to several books that will explain to them why collective intelligence, open source everything, and the three values of clarity, diversity, and integrity, are all essential to resilience and sustainability. Transparency, truth, and trust are the heart of the matter. This article is a disgrace to Slate and to Stanford, and confirms my growing disdain for the New America Foundation and Foreign Policy.
Robert David Steele, The Open Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, & Trust (Evolver Editions, 2012)
Robert David Steele, Intelligence for Earth: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability (Earth Intelligence Network, 2010)
Mark Tovey (ed.), Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace (Earth Intelligence Network, 2008)
David Weinberger, Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder (Holt, 2008)
and then of course there are all the other books that in the aggregate would suggest to any intelligent reader that Slate has just published the biggest piece of crap in the recent history of digital journalism.
2012-01-28 Berto Jongmanprovides link to:
Phi Beta Iota: The puported article is totally inept, using students and a very narrow range of information provided to the students to attempt to replicate a much more nuanced and comprehensive range of networks with access to vaster information resources. The article also does not provide for new sources coming into the public domain, with the inevitable result that the truth ultimately comes out, for example, on the JFK and MLK assassinations, the USS Liberty, and increasingly, 9/11 as a mix of let it happen, make it happen, and cover it up.
Lead Author Responds:
Keynes College, University of Kent