Sunday, February 26, 2006

The tree of knowledge of good and evil

Daniel Harrison writing in Blogcritics.org describes the growing competitiveness of the blogs with mainstream media in certain respects.

Nowhere have such examples been more prescient recently than last week in the field of journalism, when two high-quality, equally highly acclaimed weblogs published well-written, erudite and startlingly professional pieces of investigative journalism.

The first piece to break waves was a thorough report on a terrorist training camp inside New York State founded by Sheik Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, the Islamic cleric Daniel Pearl was attempting to interview when he was kidnapped. Daring, provocative, and written with the type of considerable elegance New York Times staffers would be envious of, The Politics of CP's "Jamaat ul-Fuqra Training Compound Inside the United States" was an admirable feat of journalism by the highest standards and even brought local insights and testimonies into the investigation, quoting one anonymous witness with catchy, breathtaking prose ...

Belmont Club readers will recall that both Gates of Vienna and the Politics of CP were involved in developing this story, which produced original investigative reporting and not a few nervous moments for the bloggers.

Vik Rubenfeld from The Big Picture has thoughts on unedited video as opposed to soundbite video.

These video interviews that Pajamas Media is doing are revolutionary. They're far more in-depth than the sound bites the networks hand out, and which MSM cherry-picks so as to bias the news in favor of their outdated and counterproductive preferred political policies. Astonishingly, interviews like those PJM is doing, make it possible for Congressmen to be seen and heard in some ways for the first time. ...

I was honestly surprised to see and hear these Congressmen speaking so well, so earnestly, and with so much of significance in what they said. It adds a lot to it to be able to see them. As soon as I saw these videos I realized that I'd been misled by a lifetime of listening to MSM's distortions, into thinking that all Congressmen were more or less blowhards who couldn't produce a straightforward, human, interesting thing to say.

Commentary

I'm not sure that in-depth blog reports or unedited video will ever have the mass appeal of slickly packaged print and video products which are simplified so that they can be digested at a glance or reduced into a single memorable soundbite. There's a real market in content-reduced information as the Reader's Digest well knew, and that segment will probably remain alive and well.

However, the low cost of entry into Internet publishing makes it possible for authors to create specialty publications which can effectively reach their audiences. Whether that's good or bad is the subject of debate. David Ignatius, writing in the Washington Post argues that unfiltered content, no longer moderated by the Gatekeepers, may be a dangerous and loose cannon.

So why does the world feel so chaotic? Why is there a growing sense that, as Francis Fukuyama put it in a provocative essay in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, "More democracy will mean more alienation, radicalization and -- yes, unfortunately -- terrorism"? ...

Charles M. McLean, who runs a trend-analysis company called Denver Research Group Inc. (I wrote a 2004 column called "Google With Judgment" that explained how his company samples thousands of online sources to assess where global opinion is heading.) I asked McLean last week if he could explain the latest explosion of rage in our connected world -- namely the violent Islamic reaction to Danish cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad.

McLean argues that the Internet is a "rage enabler." By providing instant, persistent, real-time stimuli, the new technology takes anger to a higher level. "Rage needs to be fed or stimulated continually to build or maintain it," he explains. The Internet provides that instantaneous, persistent poke in the eye. What's more, it provides an environment in which enraged people can gather at cause-centered Web sites and make themselves even angrier. The technology, McLean notes, "eliminates the opportunity for filtering or rage-dissipating communications to intrude." I think McLean is right.

What do you think?

77 Comments:

Blogger Sardonic said...

Excellent points. The Internet is indeed, among many other things, a "Rage Enabler". I think the solution is both simple and obvious. Authentication of users, something that Al Gore in his infinite wisdom seems to have forgotten about when he invented the Internet. How would that help? Well, lets just say that at the sacrifice of anonyminity we would also lose Child Porn, Terrorism Websites, Virus Propagation, Spam, Phishing, etc., and whatever new and improved forms of attack are lurking on the horizon. While anonyminity is nice, and I understand that Al Gore was simply trying his damndest to protect us from Big Brother - frankly, he made a mistake, should own up to it, and fix the poor miserable beastie before it gets us all killed. Ok?

2/26/2006 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger 74 said...

So its blogs and the internet that are the rage stimulators? I guess they forgot about "Remember the Maine"

2/26/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Will said...

go to right-wingreasoning.blogspot.com

2/26/2006 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

The MSM abdicated the throne with their bias. They can not now (logically) complain about the new king! Anytime that you have access to raw data there is the possibility of extreme reaction. But overall, being able to see the truth will be better. Just ask yourself what would our general image of the American military would be without the Internet. Or of the situation on the ground in Iraq. Now do you think knowing the truth is worth the risk? Seems to me the answer is pretty clear.

2/26/2006 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Will said...

good point exhel,

the MSM has recently become extremely bias, and is no longer trusworthy. blogs have become more reliable as a whole (such as yours, wretchard). there should be little suprise at this turn toward blogging

2/26/2006 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Will said...

good point exhel,

the MSM has recently become extremely bias, and is no longer trusworthy. blogs have become more reliable as a whole (such as yours, wretchard). there should be little suprise at this turn toward blogging

2/26/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

I think it's just the opposite. I think it's the "tabloidization" of the MSM that's the problem.

The "News" Channels are still reporting "Iraq, on the verge of CIVIL WAR," even though the readers, and commentors on this and other blogs have realized for two days that it isn't happening.

2/26/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

I disagree with what McLean said:

"Rage needs to be fed or stimulated continually to build or maintain it,"

Sometimes yes.

More often, rage is more like a dam without real purpose.

Good web logs are highly tageted dam-busters.

The bigger problem is that not all dams are equal, most are quite good.

Dams, because they work so well, tend to build up sediment which must be cleaned out or else the dam becomes a high elevation field with a big waterfall. The MSM have a filled in dam that is so old it is almost a meadow. They, like many, forget what keeps the filled in sediment, now so flat, in place.

2/26/2006 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Sanity said...

I think you have to consider other things besides enabling rage in order to weigh the internet versus other communication modalities. In fact, the net enables the more rapid expression of emotion as well as offering an immediate opportunity to escalate that emotion by interacting with sympathetic others; or, a higher peak emotional level for a shorter duration. In comparison, the older communication technologies respond to an event with a lower amplitude but can go on for a much longer period of time. Which one cause the greater problem? Well, it would depend entirely on the details of the specific situation; and the reasonableness of the emotion in response to the situation/event. I don't think it is fair to say that a highly emotional response is always bad; nor is a measured response always good. It depends on what you are responding to.

2/26/2006 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

long before blogs moslems were randomly murdering jews that they could find...

the blog of yesterday was the mosque and guess what? it still is

2/26/2006 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Freedom Fighter said...

Nature hates a vaccuum, Wretched.

If the MSM is too biased and not to be trusted, people will seek other sources of information if they're available. With the advent of talk radio and the internet, they are.

As for the `rage enabler' factor, the blogs that deal solely in outrage without accurate analysis and information tend to fall through the cracks.

Additionally, the blogosphere tends to move faster than the MSM and with more depth.

For instance, I was blogging on the Dubai Ports story and contacting congressmen on February 15th,about a week before much of the MSM got into the act.J O S H U A P U N D I T: Should the Arabs control American ports?

And I have continued to post facts on the story that the MSM can't or won't coverJ O S H U A P U N D I T: More on `Portgate'

Knowing the facts and access to additional sources of information is the key..as it always has been.

2/26/2006 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Rage Enablers and Goofy Enablers, both.

During a lull in work, my dear spouse recently became acquainted with and morbidly fascinated by DailyKos. Were there really that many people like that out there - and *So Far* out there? Living on cock-eyed conspiracies and wild irrationality?

Apparently.

Who knew?

2/26/2006 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

MSM has an enormous amount Money and a "Business" to protect. They hate blogs, and they "WILL" come after you. You are going to be "Shocked" at some of the legislation that's impending (probably before the 08' elections.)

They're just pecking around, right now, looking for the weakness they can exploit. Something that resonates. They will probably find more than willing accomplices in the incumbent legislators.

2/26/2006 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

Interesting theory. But the rage I see today is in the non-wired part of the world--people are not stumbling from internet cafes in San Francisco to burn down the arab embassies. Earthquake-levelled villages in Pakistan are protesting the cartoons, for goodness' sake--how many of those villagers have an internet connection? I suspect that little of the rage overseas is due to the internet; most of it is due to Islam itself, its culture, its institutions, its leaders--one vast rage enabler, preaching wounded pride, antisemitism, and fantasies of revenge. As pork rinds for allah says, the blog of yesteryear is the mosque, and it still is.

Don't lose sight of the ball.

2/26/2006 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

The MSM consists of a small bunch of people with their own ideas and own standards and own point of view. Just like a blogger group that shares same world view. Gatekeeper, forsooth!! Has Mr Ignatius never heard of a hyperlink??

The Internet is the most incredible vast array of information, good bad and indifferent, EVER, and it is available to ordinary people, in every country of the world!!!

The Gate may still be standing, but the fence has disappeared!

2/26/2006 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

The MSM is chewing on a mouthful of sour grapes.

Exhelo said it well. But, let us not forget the financial aspect. The MSM is losing money by the bushel basket by paying air heads like Joel Stein $75,000+ per year to bang out one lousy piece per week. That cannot last forever.

Sooner or later the owners will step in and fire people like Joel Stein and hire people of Wretchard's caliber - or they will go bankrupt.

2/26/2006 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

On the contrary.

Consider this thought experiment using a real-life crisis.

Imagine today's Media during the Sepoy Mutiny in India in 1857.

When the Women and Children were murdered at Meerut and then women and children were tossed into the wells at Cawnpore, back then it took weeks for the information to reach Britain. Today we would have photos of the riots and killing splashed across the screens for weeks. We would see dead redcoats dragged through the streets.

The common denominator here is the MSM which makes its ratings through fomenting controversy and enhancing the appearance of conflict.

The Web, because it thrives on fact checking, and gets its word out via printed words, and can be accessed at any time, is a dashpot - a shock absorber for the MSM.

Had the Blogoshpere existed concurrently with an MSM in 1857 - we would see the MSM saying all of India was up in arms.


But we would see Indian bloggers on both sides of the fighting and British Regular's blogs providing stories - that most of India did not want the Moghuls back and that many Indian units were pro-British.

This would have been the shock absorber contrary to the MSM showing clips of dead recoats and victorious rebels.

So, I disagree - the internet and blogs are a shock absorber BECAUSE it has so many sources of information, this information can be cross referenced, and because writers must write and must have consistent stories to tell.

2/26/2006 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

Rage enables its own avenues of distribution. To paraphrase Wretchard and Abbie Hoffman (via Trangbang) "The Acme Starter Kit of Revolution, complete with Rage Enablement Drivers and rechargable battery kit.

2/26/2006 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

I asked McLean last week if he could explain the latest explosion of rage in our connected world -- namely the violent Islamic reaction to Danish cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad.

McLean argues that the Internet is a "rage enabler." By providing instant, persistent, real-time stimuli, the new technology takes anger to a higher level. "Rage needs to be fed or stimulated continually to build or maintain it," he explains. The Internet provides that instantaneous, persistent poke in the eye.

///////////////////
When the cyclops asked who has poked my eye, Odysses replied "My name is Noman."
So the cyclops went around to all of his friends crying out for vengence. He said, "Noman has poked out my eye." And his friends all laughed.

After weeks of demonstrating against the perceived misrepresentation of islam provided by the picture of the cartoon muhammad with the bomb in the domed turban ....--when the domed golden mosque was blown up no moslem coming back from a demonstration against the domed cartoon Muhammad could help but think that perhaps the representation was of islam as the cartoon muhummad with the bomb in the turban--was perhaps fair.

After all,,,--there were the pictures.

2/26/2006 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

I wonder if the rage over the Danish cartoons wasn't enabled in large part by the dissemination of the Danish imams' message to the exclusion of others. To what extent they or others may have used the internet for provocation is something that might be considered in this context. But on the other hand, it's likely many of the Muslims who were rioting had not even seen the images they were rioting over.

So I think a good counter argument could be made to the effect that it isn't the technology or the dissemination of information that is problematical, but rather the uses to which it is put. Isn't this always the case? And if the point is so obvious, why do people like Ignatius and McClean fail to see (or perhaps ignore) it?

As for Fukuyama's suggestion that democracy is a problem ("More democracy will mean more alienation, radicalization and -- yes, unfortunately -- terrorism") the same may also be said about money or religion or mass transit systems or even television. I'm not sure Fukuyama's statement quite carries the impressive weight or depth of meaning he thinks it does.

2/26/2006 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Or as I heard the story one time a man from Syria challenged a persian and a greek to each draw the most perfect picture of the world.

And the persian drew and drew and drew and produced a most marvelous color picture of the world while the Greek took a piece of brass and polished and polished and polished.

They each held their work up. The persian had the great picture but reflected on the brass of the greek was the picture put up by the persian.

2/26/2006 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

This grows tiresome--this invocation of a species to characterize an entire phylum. It's as crude as it is pedantic.

To talk of the internet is to talk of mankind. These concepts, and the variations they imply, are inseparable.

The internet is an impartial and comprehensive enabler. The light it produces is white, though these soi-disant thinkers are too myopic to realize it.

So they've become acquainted with unthinking rage, and are embarrassed that it is no longer subterranean. How surprised they must be to relearn the completeness of man's nature. How pathetic they seem to those of us who've never forgotten.

2/26/2006 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"So they've become acquainted with unthinking rage, and are embarrassed that it is no longer subterranean. How surprised they must be to relearn the completeness of man's nature. How pathetic they seem to those of us who've never forgotten."

Wow.

2/26/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Always, its important to remember that philosophy begins in the character and personality of man whereas theology begins in the personality and character of God. Similiarly Jesus is both fully man and fully God. This is hard even painful thing to understand. The ancient world's first attempts to brige time/Man and eternity/God produced Chimeras--the minataur in Minos's labrinth, the centaurs, the Indian elephant men.

Jesus is our God Man.

Sadly epistomology and ontolgoy are mostly skipped over in college these days. People jump right to rhetoric.

2/26/2006 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger rasqual said...

The paternal MSM have ostensibly advocated "the public's right to know" for so long, they now fall into "does not compute" mode when we do our knowing on our own, thank you.

Look for continuing miscalculations and a lot of whistling in the dark from 'em.

2/26/2006 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

It's an outrage!

A lot of rage comes from a mistake in etymology. ``Outrage'' comes from French ``outre,'' beyond what is proper, made into a noun with -age, outre-age.

English then notices the ``rage'' part, and thinks it proves that something beyond what is proper deserves rage, ``the word itself says so.''

This idea is so useful that it was re-imported back into French.

But it's a mistake. There's no connection between what is beyond the customary and rage.

Some blog will make that point someday and it will all die down.

2/26/2006 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

What enables my rage is listening to some finely coiffed peabrain on CNN tell me something I know is patently false.When they had a monopoly on the distribution of information we had a vague sense of disbelief.Through the alternative media we have ammunition to prove they're full of crap.It still requires a certain amount of discernment and spitting out the bones.
This forum,The Belmont Club, is a wonderful exercise in participatory democracy.I would liken it to town halls in 1770 colonial America where the big issues of liberty we're hashed out.The old media is King George ,oppressive and out of touch.Michael Yon takes us to ground zero in Mosul while Bob Shieffer is giving us a narrative that was written about another war in 1969.

2/26/2006 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Here's a piece by LA Times on the Lebanonization of Iraq

2/26/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Stuart Fullerton and Porkrinds are right about the rage coming from the mosque.Islam feeds off the discontent of failed societies,Franz Fanon's "Wretched of the Earth"Look at the nature of the Wahhabi atrocities.These are some angry jokers.Don't take no internet to produce that.
The same is true here in our domestic discourse.Throw out the large portion of the populace who are strungout on American Idol,etc.On the left and right there is very little common ground.We're pretty balkanized.I don't think going back to the pravda party line on the networks is advancing the dialogue any.

2/26/2006 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

2 Peter 2 (NIV)



2 Peter 2
False Teachers and Their Destruction
1But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them into gloomy dungeons[b] to be held for judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.[c] 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature[d] and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

13They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.[e] 14With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—a beast without speech—who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness.

17These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit,"[f]and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."

2/26/2006 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Cartoons provided a perfect stage on which our MSM and their Imams performed:

The MSM shielded the people who would not react with rage from the pictures saying they did not want to provoke rage.

The Imams reprinted them, "enhanced" them, and targeted them to those most likely to react with rage, saying the Dutch Cartoonists caused the rage.

The MSM shielded their audience from the truth of the Imam's behavior, awareness of the content of the cartoons, and encouraged doubt, finger pointing, and self recrimination.

Blame America First.

Defame Christians Always.

The Internet Made Them Do It.

2/26/2006 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Charles,
The MSM provides a daily example of the Lobotomization of America.

2/26/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

Fukuyama is lost.

From his October 2001 WSJ op-ed piece:

This broader dislike and hatred would seem to represent something much deeper than mere opposition to American policies like support for Israel or the Iraq embargo, encompassing a hatred of the underlying society. After all, many people around the world, including many Americans, disagree with U.S. policies, but this does not send them into paroxysms of anger and violence. ..But rather than psychologize the Muslim world…

Fukuyama’s post-911 writing was filled with questions, not answers. The Muslim phenomenon had no explanation for him - and, IMO, still does not, so he reaches for a rational connection. Democracy as a ‘facilitator’ of nasty developments. Too much of a reach. The nonsense deserves no sweat of explanation. Modernity needs to be forced forward.

2/26/2006 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"Modernity needs to be forced forward."

That's what we're doing, right?

2/26/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger blert said...

I'm enraged....!

2/26/2006 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Seneca the Younger said...

I absolutely agree: unmediated media access without gatekeepers may well be dangerous.

Especially to the gatekeepers.

2/26/2006 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger rufus said...

I question the timing.

2/26/2006 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger Norman said...

Rufus, you wrote:

"MSM has an enormous amount Money and a "Business" to protect. They hate blogs, and they "WILL" come after you. You are going to be "Shocked" at some of the legislation that's impending (probably before the 08' elections.) "

I necessarily disagree with you, but do you have any sources?

Thanks,
Norm

2/26/2006 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Norman said...

Oops!

I meant to write:

I DON'T necessarily disagree with you....

2/26/2006 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Doug. Please.

If it's not one damn thing it's another.

The moslem meltdown. It needs no exuse. Only history.

Let it be.

2/26/2006 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Trish,
Right, the MSM and the left are not their enablers in the West.

2/26/2006 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

We're not the center of all universes, Doug. Nor are our MSM.

2/26/2006 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger Zhang Fei said...

McLean is an internet analyst. So he posits an internet-related explanation. If the internet were truly a rage-enabler, we'd have been the ones out there burning down foreign consulates and mosques after 9/11. The Muslims doing things to Westerners and our property after the declaration of the Comic Jihad aren't particularly big-time users of the internet. Their rage-enablers are their neighborhood mullahs and foreign-financed terror movements behind them, not the internet. David Ignatius, as usual, is talking out of his rear end.

2/26/2006 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger Count Grecula said...

It may be true that "Rage needs to be fed or stimulated continually to build or maintain it," but it also needs a real-world outlet to be of any consequence. A virtual gathering at a web site can incite emotions, but only unruly mobs will ignite cars. Like-minded people have always congregated together; the only difference now is that tribe is not limited by geography. Hateful people can find each other and do their thing more efficiently- but folks like me have found you as well, Wretchard. Which group will have more real-world results remains to be seen.

2/26/2006 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger Zhang Fei said...

cg: It may be true that "Rage needs to be fed or stimulated continually to build or maintain it," but it also needs a real-world outlet to be of any consequence.

There is no shortage of real world outlets. The people who are truly enraged have no problem finding them. I would classify our lot as concerned and mildly annoyed. People who are enraged end up in the newspapers. We're not enraged.

2/27/2006 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Trish,
Right, the MSM and the left are not their enablers *in the West*.
---
Last time I checked, "the West" was not a universe.

2/27/2006 12:08:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Norman,

No Sources. Just plain, unsubstantiated opinion. I'd bet money on it, though.

2/27/2006 12:16:00 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Aristedes nails another one.
The implicit assumption of this writer regarding rage is that resentment is not a necessary and universal quality of being human, of feeling alienated from the sacred, from the centrality we all desire. But it is necessary that we are so alienated, and only utopians and the intellectually dishnonest deny it. Rage, of course, may indicate a resentment that is not under control, not disciplined in appropriate ways, not held in check by good faith in humanity's ability to transcend its woeful condition. Yet so much of what the internet is about is allowing people to mediate and transcend their resentments in non-violent ways, to speak and act with others, thus putting their faith in our common human struggle. If i sometimes show rage on this blog, it is because i'm not elsewhere putting my fist in the face of tawdry elitists who might be doing everything to provoke such action by further alienating me from all that is desirable and good.

2/27/2006 01:32:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

I think that Ignatius and maybe even Fukuyama are trivializing the effects of connectedness and democracy.

It shouldn't be about having access to Abercrombie's online catalogue. Democracy in the developing world should be about wells and water pumps, refrigeration, and feeding your children. Third world entrepreneurs will make it work if they are crushed by the elites.

2/27/2006 03:24:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

This goes back to Wretchard's essay about propaganda today.

Ultimately, the current war is about, most of all, propaganda. The West is very successful at this, stunningly successful, in fact. First and foremost, it is a successful culture, which is an enormous, if unintentional propaganda generator.

The war is really about the fact that Western culture and its associated communication techniques has utterly overwhelmed every other culture in the world. Several years back I read an article describing how we live in a "Science Fiction" world in that people in most foreign conutries could see and hear Western marvels but have no hope of actually experiencing them. It was if they were watching Star Trek on TV - except that it was real, just not for them.

How much of the rage comes from lack of access to these marvels and how much comes from the sure realization that they and their culture had no hand in creating them is something that would require a Phd-level examination - which I would then not believe

In the case of the Islamic Facists, they have rejected every basic tenet of the West and now have none of that which flows from those tenets.

The "rage" shown over the internet, as well as the war itself, basically shows that we are wiping the floor with out opponents, in every respect.

And that goes for the rage shown here at home, as well.

2/27/2006 06:00:00 AM  
Blogger sbw said...

Blogs are no different a process than I wrote about in Concentric Circles in 2004: "Individuals, journalists, and society operate by the same methods."

Just as democracy can be unreliable over the short term and its process for self-correction is preferable over the long term, so, too, does multichannel internet foster self-correcting feedback over the long term.

2/27/2006 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

Ha!

Yeah, I've never gotten angry reading my local newspaper. Of course, if I ever did get outraged by something I read there, I had a great emotional outlet. I could send them a letter-to-the-editor which they would print-- limit six per year, no more than one in a single month and with a length of 200 words or less. (/sarcasm)

Screw the MSM.

(Oooh... I feel a little rage coming on. Maybe I should go blog it.)

2/27/2006 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Aetius said...

Please, you are all missing the point! Media is about business, not psychology.

Blogging is a child of open source development, the first born child of the Internet. Linus Torvalds as practical philosopher observed open source (free speech) flattens the time for error correction (truth) to occur.

Wretchard, please read and apply your fertile mind to the seminal article by Eric Raymond The Cathedral and the Bazaar.

Pajamas Media (or similar) will succeed to the extent they wisely use their IT department (http://www.sourceforge.net)
to compete with the old cathedral model of media.

2/27/2006 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger Aetius said...

My apologies to sbw.
You certainly do get it.

2/27/2006 06:27:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

sardonic,

The anonymity of the Internet has good aspects as well as bad. The good and bad both come from the sense of relative immunity from personal retaliation for what you say.

For example, on this forum and a few others, I'm just "Papa Bear". My personna is associated with certain opinions I have posted. Over time I may build up a reputation (positive or negative) based on those published opinions.

But someone who dislikes the opinions of "Papa Bear" has no easy way of visiting his feelings on my doorstep, or my employer's doorstep. He is limited to telling me off in the blogosphere.

We thus have people being able to actually say what they really think, without having to look over their shoulders that much. In an era where people like Theo Van Gogh get murdered, and numerous others have to go into hiding after expressing viewpoints that upset certain psychopaths, this is a comforting state of affairs

2/27/2006 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

sirius sir,
Considering the level of unemployment and poverty in the muslim world, I'm wondering how much of the "cartoon rioting" can be attributed to certain people behind the scenes going "He's $20 -- go make some noise"

2/27/2006 07:03:00 AM  
Blogger Lek the Avenger said...

"1But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you (in the Day of Christ's return). {They will be AMONG YOU, Christians, as it is CHRISTIANS to whom I, Peter, am speaking.}

They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—
(even denying Christ has returned, denying Christ could have possibly MEANT for His holy and truth-telling words to come true in the same year; denying that Christ WANTS humanking to trust the One He promised and sent in the year His promises came to fulfillment; and therefore

bringing swift destruction on themselves. (See how disunified "Christianity" has become, splintered into more than 600 different sects in America alone!)

2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. (Note the usual Christian 'scoffing and denying' of Christ's return, even though St Peter said such denial, in this day, is a 'damnable heresy'! And note that the teachings of the Glory of God are often scorned as if disreputable, and this by people who rarely, if ever, read or investigate them!)

3In their greed, their lust for power, these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping."

It's clear to see, from these excerpts from Holy Gospel, why many people turn AWAY from Churchianity in this Day, and turn TOWARD Christ, in His new name. (cf. Rev 2:17, 3:12)

2/27/2006 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

I wonder if we might not put Fukuyama's latest theory to a real-world test. On one side note the countries whose Danish embassies were burned or otherwise attacked in the wake of the Cartoon intifada. Now on the other side note the countries whose embassies remained safe and inviolate.

By this test I suggest a counter-argument to Fukuyama's: that totalitarian states and despotic regimes--not democracies--are the real cauldrens of alienation, radicalization and terrorism. How he missed the evidence of the last century replete with now-discredited 'isms' is a puzzle. Does he truly not understand that Germany and Japan and Ukraine are happier places today as democracies than they once were under totatlitarian rule? Or am I simply, blithely ignorant of some deep scholarly insight that leaves me vulnerable to, and confounded by, self-evident truth?

2/27/2006 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Hoorah for Baron and his colleagues. The mainstream media is still stirring the embers of Katrina, Aruba, and the UAI deal to worry about the Jihadists that have already landed. They beckon to sing a rousing chorus of “Beasts of England”, but the barn door is already open.

Stupidity is the greatest rage reducer. It is the MSM constant consideration to keep the little people ignorant of the world so they can mold their feeble little minds in the ideal political pawns. What an arrogant rat b@stard McLean. Who elected him Information Minister? What the internet allows people to do is bypass the prepackaged, this is what is good for your mindless drivel that the MSM hands out like meds in a sanitarium. Technology has shown the strength of the self to the curious and they have torn the fixture from the floor and smashed it through the window and made their escape. The nurses whine that they patients would be better off with an information lobotomy.

2/27/2006 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger pete speer said...

The saddest things regarding the cartoons were the foolowing:

1. The twelve cartoons were augmented by three additional cartoons of much greater offense to Muslims. The source of the augmentation had to me the Imams in Denmark themselves. If not, the entire fomentation was a fraud perprestartaed by the Muslim media.

2. Our MSM picked up the story, did no investigation and purveyed it throughout the world, adding confirmation and gravitas to the original fraud. That they done an iota of investigation, some water would have dampened the fire.

The MSM is sick, sick, sick. "All The News That Fits, We Print.

2/27/2006 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Papa Bear said...

"The anonymity of the Internet has good aspects as well as bad.... For example, on this forum and a few others, I'm just "Papa Bear". My personna is associated with certain opinions I have posted.... We thus have people being able to actually say what they really think, without having to look over their shoulders that much. In an era where people like Theo Van Gogh get murdered, and numerous others have to go into hiding after expressing viewpoints that upset certain psychopaths, this is a comforting state of affairs.."

I agree with Papa Bear that this is a great strength of the Internet. I also agree that it's nice not having to look over one's shoulder in concern about psychopaths. However there is the obvious downside, e.g. signal-to-noise ratio (S/N).

"Belmont Club" is an island of rationality in an ocean of entropy. Pity the poor moonbat barking nonsense at DailyKos. He's just a small part of the cacophony that no one can hear above the background noise.

Theo Van Gogh's message was loud and clear because he stood up and made himself a target. In some ways that's the flip side of democracy:

The concerned citizen stands up before the ancient Athenian assembly at the Pynx and makes his statement. Like the men around him, he's a citizen/soldier and a veteran surviving more than one battle defending his city. If he can convince the citizens of Athens of his argument's merits then the speaker might change the course of history. If the speaker is sufficiently eloquent he might even become a leader. However if he enrages the mob, he could find himself ostracized (exiled through secret ballot). One must be very careful when speaking before the Athenian assembly.

2/27/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston said...

Sirius Sir and Stuart Fullerton are dead-on correct. The example of the Cartoon Controversy shows the power of propaganda in places where alternate viewpoints, and particularly the internet, have little market penetration. The Cartoons were published in Denmark last October. The crisis erupted after the Danish Imams essentially created their own blasphemous images and were able to claim that they had been published in the West. They went on a tour of the middle east and were unchallenged due to lack of alternate media. The "Rage Enabler" argument is weak. There was a 5 month delay between publication and eruption, and the rage was spread by truly ancient media (mosques, networks of mullahs), not normal muslims with direct internet access. Let's not sell people short, most are critical thinkers in their daily business and can easily do the same with politics and even religion. To Fukuyama (the man in search of a solution) I say "Let the Net spread, and the best ideas win."

2/27/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

Fukuyama will be on CNN tonight at 8PM (Monday, 2/27) explaining why Neoconservatism turned out to be "wrong". That's how they're advertising it anyway.

Maybe someone mentioned it above.

2/27/2006 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Sardonic said...

Papa Bear:

"The anonymity of the Internet has good aspects as well as bad.... We thus have people being able to actually say what they really think, without having to look over their shoulders that much. In an era where people like Theo Van Gogh get murdered, and numerous others have to go into hiding after expressing viewpoints that upset certain psychopaths, this is a comforting state of affairs.."

Thank you for your reply to my comment. I've been so very impressed with the quality of this blog and the commentary, in particular to the question raised today by our most excellent host.

The problem, quite frankly, that I have with the lack of authentication on the Internet, and perhaps this is the wrong blog and/or topic to mention this, is that we have a critical infrastructure issue related to the insecurity of the Internet. Without authentication I sense that we are drifting on a boat made of sand, any day to be completely undone by one truly destructive virus or worm. The reason these attacks are possible is because the Internet is the wild waste and unregulated. Thus, villains lurk about in the shadows of anonmyminity, along with those of us, such as yourself and myself, who desire some anonyminity in order to safeguard ourselves from the wacko terrorist who would kill us on our doorstep for the inadvertent comment we might post should it offend him. I completely agree, it is a benefit and I am taking advantage of it by writing under this psuedonym, of course, and for that very reason. Yet, what I am questioning is whether or not that feature is worth the potential cost to our civilization. If there were a way to be both anonymous, and at the same time authenticated (with hard-protected Aliasing, perhaps) then we might be able to obtain both. Remember, even though we are anonymous, as you say, we don't have to look over our shoulders "much". That much is necessary because in fact if someone really wished to they could hack their way to the blogger server (possibly) and find the IP addresses of the posters in their logs, and then take their "outrage" from there and still get at us. I can not prove that, but I strongly suspect it is true. However, on an Authenticated network the hacker would be no more. And thus, our safety would be the greater, overall. So long as we could still Alias ourselves for commentary, then we would be in the same circumstance as now, only more secure, not less.

I hope Al Gore reads this and gives birth to a solution to the problem he created.

2/27/2006 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

Trish,

"Modernity needs to be forced forward."

That's what we're doing, right?


Not a timely response, but for the record, a number of the sardonic sound bites that emerged to describe OIF work very well for me - reshuffling the deck, cleaning the swamp, etc. How many sinecures crashed on the shoals of 911?

I believe it was Buddy Larsen who suggested that the religious leaders are well aware of the need to move their societies into the 21st century at a pace slow enough to maintain cohesion but rapid enough to enjoy the economic benefits of a resource rich region. This makes sense to me.

But I also believe they are rank amateurs playing with deadly toys, driven by the prehistoric rhetoric of the amygdala, if you will, and fatally incapable of exerting control over their radical elements. Restraint is the sign of experience and wisdom. Muslim cultures need to demonstrate more of it before I support the dignity of negotiated compromise. The yellow brick road to modernity has not been patented (or Patton-ed) but I believe the Iraq people have a very good shot, courtesy of Bush.

But I am ignorant. I could be wrong.

2/27/2006 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger exguru said...

The internet is more a cathartic than a rage enabler. You have to be crazy to kill people over a picture of a bearded man with a cherry bomb in his hair. The internet IS an enabler for the organizers of this crap, the guys who distribute the Danish flags to Afghanistan... Yes, in that sense. But it is not inciting the riots. In fact, it is circulating the truth in societies where the government will not. The internet is mostly good.

2/27/2006 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Last SA morning as many of you may know I was quite busy commenting here and over at Philippine Commentary. I was detailing the relaying the events in the Marine standoff in Manila as they were being reported by another Internet source. That had me quite jazzed up. When it was finally over I had a sense of withdrawl. Oh shoot, now I have to read my local newspaper's site in hopes of finding an Eight-Ball.

In the olden days long ago, say ten years ago I had no choice. I had to wait until the Sunday paper (or even Monday) paper arrived (The Gulf News) with a report on the events. Hehe, not the same. I was getting reports via the I'net and relaying them to others probably within 1/2 hour of them happening. Once I got txt from a family member. The txt detailed an event before it hit the Internet.

Now, I wasn't feeling rage as it appeared the side I favor appeared to have the upper hand (indeed it did) and even if the side I favored did not have the upper hand rage wouldn't have been the feeling (sorta indifference probably most likely)

I guess the Internet is more likely to get people worked up. Since it is hard for a firebrand to get a show on TV or radio or a column in a respectable paper. However, anyone with an internet connection can put up a website and host all sorts of virulent provocative material. Al Qaida has that one figured out real well.

2/27/2006 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Starling David Hunter said...

Wretchard writes: "Daniel Harrison writing in Blogcritics.org describes the growing competitiveness of the blogs with mainstream media in certain respects."

Part of what makes the blogsophere such a perplexing challenge for mainstream media is this: it is not easily amenable to analysis using standard strategic management theories and analytical frameworks.

Consider, for example, the problems that arise when one uses the most widely taught strategic management framework, Michael Porter’s Five Forces , to get a handle on the competitive threat posed by blogs.

In short, Porter’s theory posits that the determinants of profitability in an industry are explained by five "forces"- the power of suppliers; the power of buyers; barriers to entry; the degree of rivalry among incumbents; and the presence of substitutes.

When I say that blogs are perplexing, it is not just because they don't fit neatly into any one of those five classes of determinants. The real problem, as I see it, is that they fit into all of them, at the same time.

Blogs are new entrant, substitute, complement, and rival. They offset much of the power the MSM has traditionally had over its both buyers and its suppliers. Were blogs just any one of these things, they could be easily be squashed, co-opted, or marginalized. But they are not.

You don’t see challenges and challengers like this everyday. Once in a generation or two is probably more like it. And this is why blogs are rage-enablers too: having to fight such a diffuse, rapidly-growing, and potent set of threats is making executives and journalists at many quasi-monopolistic, mainstream media organizations very, very angry.

None of this is to say that the “threat” posed by blogs can’t be met. Adaptation, reconfiguration, and hybridization can and will occur. Some firms will see the silver lining and recognize the opportunity inherent in what they have, up to then, considered threatening. For others, their wooly-headed thinking on this matter will see them go the way of the wooly mammoth.

2/27/2006 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

sardonic writes: "The problem, quite frankly, that I have with the lack of authentication on the Internet, and perhaps this is the wrong blog and/or topic to mention this, is that we have a critical infrastructure issue related to the insecurity of the Internet. Without authentication I sense that we are drifting on a boat made of sand,"

The basic technology exists, in the form of the Public Key Infrastructure. It just needs to be applied.

For example, if I have a "user certificate" associated with personna "Papa Bear", then if the blogger site is set up to use it, it can verify that the person posting as "Papa Bear" is actually the "Papa Bear" who initially registered.

More importantly, if "Papa Bear" develops a good reputation on blog site A, it's possible for Papa Bear to be invited to Blogsite B, where posting privileges are given by invitation only.

And at no point is Papa Bear's physical identity exposed, only the web personna

2/28/2006 06:00:00 AM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

My working life is not letting me keep up w/the important stuff!!...I hate coming in on these things on the tail end...
...nonetheless a few thoughts...
very interesting points throughout this thread; I agree with Arthur Dent that the web may help gather and whip up the mob, but is not the cause of the web. I believe it makes the disparate feel as though they're part of a larger communitity; witness the boy loving men or downtrodden, unemployed moslem youth - it makes them bold to come out. Also, I believe Red River makes a very important distinction between us and the MSM; that is that we are printed word - we do not blurt out the news as so often is done today, we actually cogitate on it for a moment...
But,
I think an important point is that we are approaching this whole topic from a western perspective.
Here in the west we believe that each individual should be self-regulating, and that most people that already show healthy balance in their life will eventually discern a productive path down the road of life...
...but what if your life is not balanced?
Say you're male and you lack the confirmation of your worth provided by a job; also, after you grow tired of wasting your time on a boundless source of smut on the internet - will the desparation/despair of your situation drive you to voice your anger and frustration that the world has left you behind?
Will the aforementioned western titilation that you delved into create guilt and isolation from the traditional support structures of family and your religion? Will the fact that you have failed in your religion, which puts a premium on the law, and obedience cause you to seek restitution with your god through the ultimate sacrifice of jihad?

Aristedes puts his finger on problem - what we mostly accept as our sinful nature; most of us have realized this and have our own avoid/don't avoid throttles for tempations.
In the west we've made the calculation that if 5% of the people exposed to alcohol, drugs, pornagraphy, gambling, etc. become addicted, it's a acceptable evil to preserve freedom; but, we may be asking a bit much for some people to come from illiteracy with no TV to the expanse of the internet in less than a generation.
We may need to work on the root causes; for instance, maybe we need to revise our NRA style all or nothing response to internet freedom and set up a dialogue where fledgling (or non) democracies can filter their countries domains to keep their populations out of the red light districts as they define them...

2/28/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger sbw said...

> McLean argues that the Internet is a "rage enabler."

Another view: The Internet is a pencil sharpener.

Since practice and exercise hone skills, the free exchange of ideas has led many, but not all, to refine their thinking, discussion, and, yes, tolerance. And we are all the better for it.

2/28/2006 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger sbw said...

Orlandoslug> We may need to work on the root causes; for instance, maybe we need to revise our NRA style all or nothing response to internet freedom and set up a dialogue where fledgling (or non) democracies can filter their countries domains to keep their populations out of the red light districts as they define them..

What are the root causes?
Who gets to set rules when throttling internet freedom?
How can people dialog with those who, quoting Karl Popper, "answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols"?

I'm sorry, Orlandoslug, but there are is some fuzzy thinking that needs to be ironed out before I can fully consider your recommendation. And even then, I'm afraid the consequences will be unacceptable.

2/28/2006 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Information wants to be free, and so do people.

I'm sceptical (if not outright suspicious) when anyone would put barriers in the way.

2/28/2006 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

I'm normally quite libertarian, and would normally never condone more restriction over personal liberty w/responsibility; however, right now they're sinking further into radicalism and the divide between us and them is becoming more and more pronounced, leading to a siege state mentality.

This is what we must overcome.

I think that as long as the filters only pertain to an individual country's domain (you need to keep in mind just how religious some of these people are, and just how much trash there is out there), with the whole internet remaining basically unregulated - similar to China - it is an inroad...because of the seeming impasse we're at with opening up these close societies, it might be worth the risk; hopefully, with time, and as the affected society is brought into the twenty first century these too can be brought down...I realize that we're playing with fire; especially, with the UN out there just waiting to assume control - but I feel that the whole ME situation warrants trying.
I also disagree with giving out information leading to the identification of individuals as yoohoo has done in China.
The Bloggernaut of freedom must roll on; in this case it might be temporarily disguised as a trojan horse...

2/28/2006 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

...as far as root causes, the basic "get a job" would go a long way; but, I believe ultimately in this age you've got to be part of the world wide market place, with skills to compete...although, there will always be those regimes propped up by selling their country's natural resources, or running their country like the mob...or a combination of the two...never investing or bothering to bring their populace up to speed to compete on a level playing field.

The root causes in EU countries are similar; but, complicated by the structure of the jobs and unions, and cradle to grave socialism mentality that prevents the good jobs from going to the immigrants.

2/28/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

...as far as root causes, the basic "get a job" would go a long way; but, I believe ultimately in this age you've got to be part of the world wide market place, with skills to compete...although, there will always be those regimes propped up by selling their country's natural resources, or running their country like the mob...or a combination of the two...never investing or bothering to bring their populace up to speed to compete on a level playing field.

The root causes in EU countries are similar; but, complicated by the structure of the jobs and unions, and cradle to grave socialism mentality that prevents the good jobs from going to the immigrants.

2/28/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Richard Landes said...

fascinating post, good comments. i've written a long response here.

5/24/2006 08:22:00 PM  

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