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Phi Beta Iota: Public intelligence in the public interest will take many forms ultimately integrating continuous public education with public intelligence generation and public research by demand and by crowd-sourcing. Governments are no longer adequate to the task of representing the public, even when they are honest. All eight tribes, sharing information and the global coverage burden in all languages all the time, are where we need to get to….after we get around the corrupt slow learners insistent on making us die for their last unearned dollar.
[Editor’s note: This is the first in a new column series from the pragmatic visionaries at the Thornburg Center for Professional Development for edtech digest]
“The availability of technologies to youth is its own instructor.” –Nobelist Herbert A. Simon (June 15, 1916 – February 9, 2001), Author of Science of the Artificial and a Father of Artificial Intelligence
EXTRACT: TOYS MIRROR WHAT’S NEXT IN TECHNOLOGY
In the same way that Erector Sets were patterned after the technologies of the third phase of the industrial revolution, the LEGO MindStorms kits reflect the structure of emerging technology and careers in the 21st Century. In 2006, Nano Quest from FIRST Robotics enabled students to program LEGO robots to mimic biological, chemical, and physical systems across micro-, meso-, and nano-scales.
As an aid to all the old people who are well-removed from the reality that the young communicate (and ingest information) in multi-media rather than two-dimensional static communications, here are two essentials for old people who want to get with the program:
[This is an excerpt taken from Chapter 1 of my dissertation]
Activists are not only turning to social media to document unfolding events, they are increasingly mapping these events for the world to bear witness. We’ve seen this happen in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and beyond. My colleague Alexey Sidorenko describes this new phenomenon as a “mapping reflex.” When student activists from Khartoum got in touch earlier this year, they specifically asked for a map, one that would display their pro-democracy protests and the government crackdown. Why? They wanted the world to see that the Arab Spring extended to the Sudan.
The Ushahidi platform is increasingly used to map information generated by crowds in near-real time like the picture depicted above. Why is this important? Because live public maps can help synchronize shared awareness, an important catalyzing factor of social movements, according to Jürgen Habermas. Recall Habermas’s treaties that “those who take on the tools of open expression become a public, and the presence of a synchronized public increasingly constrains un-democratic rulers while expanding the right of that public.”
Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that’s only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000).
In 1968, Stewart Brand founded an alternative information service and distribution system within a single publication, called the Whole Earth Catalog. Influenced by the work of Buckminster Fuller, the catalog developed into an extensive reference tool for designing the environment, living spaces, and new media practices. In sections titled “Understanding Whole Systems,” “Shelter and Land Use,” “Communications,” “Community,” and “Nomadics,” the catalog publicized a compendium of useful resources, with a primary focus on books. Drawing from the holdings of the MoMA Library, this exhibition surveys many of these publications and gives a history of the catalog itself.
Is there a new anti-intellectualism? I mean one that is advocated by Internet geeks and some of the digerati. I think so: more and more mavens of the Internet are coming out firmly against academic knowledge in all its forms. This might sound outrageous to say, but it is sadly true.
Robert David STEELE Vivas: Digerati are not geeks. They are adept at social media, a process, rather than the substance of any discipline. Their scorn for the mandarins of knowledge would not be possible if academia had not lost its soul, sanctioned massive intellectual corruption, and fragmented itself to the point of irrelevance. The serious educational literature (not something the digerati read) is clear: inspiration and innovation
emerge faster, better, and cheaper from minds that are prepared, to include a foundation of memorization and a deep familiarity with the thinking of those who have come before. The digerati point of view half-right and is embodied in Smart Mobs, Wisdom of the Crowd, Everything is Miscellaneous, and Maria Popova’s latest thought, that “information curation is the new authorship.” The digerati approach splits the roles of originator of an idea and connector of an idea down, and assumes that “the collective” can replicate and even surpass the individual human brain, without recognizing that the whole is only as good as the sum of the part foundation plus whatever the collective adds. My own finding re Wikipedia is that the mob destroys intellectuals. My own efforts to enhance the Open Source Intelligence page there were destroyed by idiots that “assumed” that because I pointed to oss.net so much (to many of the 800 people whose work is there including the 144 that received Golden Candle Awards) I was “self-promoting.” The digerati are fragile and very shallow, and by Larry Sanger’s very interesting account, a new form of neo-Luddite. The academy is corrupt and fragmented–we are in an era where all forms of organization have lost their soul and whatever semblance of philosophical context they may once have possessed. We are suffering from the Paradigms of Failure that I discussed in the pre-amble to ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (EIN, 2008). There is only one option leading to stabilization & reconstruction: INTEGRITY. The digerati aren’t–as a general rule–very appreciative of holistic thinking or in-depth expertise–they are a spoiled generation badly in need of some personal suffering and exposure to global reality–IMHO.
“The nature of cyberspace is borderless and anonymous,” R. Chandrasekhara, secretary of India’s telecommunications department, told a cyber security conference in London last week organised by a U.S.-based think tank, the EastWest Institute. “Governments, countries and law — all are linked to territory. There is a fundamental contradiction.”
Phi Beta Iota: The national secret intelligence communities mean well, but they are cognitively and culturally incapacitated in relation to both the global threats and the global infomation sharing and sense-making possibilities. It may just be that the solution has to come from a private sector service of common concern that can provide the integrity now lacking in governments and most corporation. Scary thought. M4IS2 is inevitable….delay is costing trillions.
Speaking at the 2011 Personal Democracy Forum, Doc talks about how power relationships work in markets vs how they should and could work. Markets are conversations, and they should be symmetrical conversations. Note his bit about how the language of marketing parallels the language of slavery….and the part where all their cookies end up giving them 50% completely wrong information.
The following thoughts were inspired by one of Zeynep Tufekci’s recent posts entitled “Faster is Different” on her Technosociology blog. Zeynep argues “against the misconception that acceleration in the information cycle means would simply mean same things will happen as would have before, but merely at a more rapid pace. So, you can’t just say, hey, people communicated before, it was just slower. That is wrong. Faster is different.”
I think she’s spot on and the reason why goes to the heart of complex systems behavior and network science. “Combined with the reshaping of networks of connectivity from one/few-to-one/few (interpersonal) and one-to-many (broadcast) into many-to-many, we encounter qualitatively different dynamics,” writes Zeynep. In a very neat move, she draws upon “epidemiology and quarantine models to explain why resource-constrained actors, states, can deal with slower diffusion of protests using ‘whack-a-protest’ method whereas they can be overwhelmed by simultaneous and multi-channel uprisings which spread rapidly and ‘virally.’
Phi Beta Iota: Concentrations of power create preconditions for revolution. Precipitants (such as burning monks or fruit vendors) ignite masses. The public is a power no government can repress forever. Howard Zinn (RIP) knew the public is a power government cannot repress; Vaclav Havel spoke to this (power of the powerless); Jonathan Schell documented it most ably (unconquerable world). Bottom line: With a tiny handful of exceptions, all governments have lost legitimacy and capability at the same time that the public is increasingly aware of the shocking injustices by banks and predatory corporations that have been legalized by governments. Patrick Meier’s discussion is a significant contribution to our understanding of why a global revolution is inevitable and panarchy will replace “sovereignty” as the primary operating principle for Earth.
The same people who brought you Wikileaks are back, and this time, they’ve created a virtual currency called Bitcoin that could destabilize the entire global financial system. Bitcoin is an open-source virtual currency generated by a computer algorithm that is completely beyond the reach of financial intermediaries, central banks and national tax collectors. Bitcoins could be used to purchase anything, at any time, from anyone in the world, in a transaction process that it is almost completely frictionless. Yes, that’s right, the hacktivists now have a virtual currency that’s untraceable, unhackable, and completely Anonymous.
And that’s where things start to get interesting. Veteran tech guru Jason Calacanis recently called Bitcoin the most dangerous open source project he’s ever seen. TIME suggested that Bitcoin might be able to bring national governments and global financial institutions to their knees. You see, Bitcoin is as much a political statement as it is a virtual currency. If you think there’s a shadow banking system now, wait a few more months. The political part is that, unlike other virtual currencies like Facebook Credits (used to buy virtual sock puppets for your friends), Bitcoins are globally transferrable across borders, making them the perfect instrument to finance any cause or any activity — even if it’s banned by a sovereign government.
You don’t need a banking or trading account to buy and trade Bitcoins – all you need is a laptop. They’re like bearer bonds combined with the uber-privacy of a Swiss bank account, mixed together with a hacker secret sauce that stores them as 1’s and 0’s on your computer. They’re “regulated” (to use the term lightly) by distributed computers around the world. Most significantly, Bitcoins can not be frozen or blocked or taxed or seized.