Updated: 9/28/09; 12:30:06 PM.
Richard Gayle's Old Blog
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Friday, August 29, 2003

Baghdad Burning

UPDATE: This blog has moved but is still called A Man With A PhD.

Another blog from Baghdad (although I do not know how one can be certain.) But this is an interesting perspective on rebuilding Iraq and the potential gouging by many of our contracts (some which had no bidding). The Iraqis rebuilt many of their bridges for much, much less than the $50 million one American company is supposed to get. It would be nice if most of that money actually ended up in Iraq but I figure it will go to pay for the ssalaries of the top executives. Assuming ANY of this is true ;-)
  comment []7:41:29 PM    


Interesting comments by someone who is not a Dean sympathizer but dislikes the elitist bias that NYT politcal reporting often presents. There is too much editorializing in the papers rather than reporting. Use of hot button words, such as rapid, while little thoughtful analysis.  comment []7:20:04 PM    

Internet Use by Region in the United States. This Pew & The Internet Report has been making the rounds. The Pew Internet & American Life Project has tracked the growth of Internet usage in the United States, from just under half of American adults in 2000 to about 59% of adults at the end of 2002. These statistics have continually shown that Internet penetration in the United States has been and continues to be uneven. We have discussed in other reports why this growth has not been evenly distributed among those in various racial and ethnic groups, those of various ages, and among those with different levels of education and income. This report explores the reasons behind the uneven distribution of Internet penetration by geographical region. And it looks at variations in use of the Internet by region. The following table outlines the disparities in Internet penetration among 12 regions of the country in 2002. (California is considered separately because Internet access and use vary dramatically from neighboring states.) [LISNews.com]

My mother asked me the other day how many people had Internet access. i said over 50% but she was skeptical. Well, here is a poll that says 59% use the Internet, although access is not evenly split. Now I know.  comment []7:15:01 PM    

New Technologies Lead to New Voices

Blogging and Society.

500 years ago the communications system in the west was owned by one organization - the church. If you wanted something in writing a monk transcribed it. Few knew how to read as a result of books being so expensive. Your network news was delivered from the pulpit. The system supported the status quo of the power of God's elect, the King and his henchmen the aristocracy and above supported the most powerful multinational enterprise the world had yet seen the church itself. The church was the largest landowner in the west at a time when land was the basis of all wealth. The barriers to competition were impossibly high.

I am sure that when Gutenberg built his first press that there was a lot of chatter about font types, about gearing and pressure and inks and about the best type of paper - the kind of geek talk that is central to all new things. This is where so much of the discourse is today about blogging - RSS etc. But the true power of the printing press was something else that went way beyond how it worked. It was how it was used that was to be important.

Within a hundred years huge numbers of people could read. It was possible to run off broadsheets - personal publishing very cheaply. So what happened as a result of this use of the new technology?

The reformation in Europe, the dissolution of the monasteries in the England the the redistribution of all that wealth to secular hands, the civil war and the end of the idea of monarchy being God's anointed. The modern world was created where new ideas based on observation - such as a new vision of the universe - could not be held back by the establishment in spite of persecution.

So this is what will happen with blogging. What blogging is, is an end run on the strangle hold of our conversation and on our mindset that the corporate and institutional world has established. Until now the costs of having a human voice were set impossibly high. Only Rupert Murdoch or a government could play. But now communication costs are ridiculously low compared to the mainstream media and communications in corporations and government. Not only are the costs low but the interactive element of blogging is so much more powerful than the broadcast technique owned by the institutions. Any one of us can have a voice and groups can have power.Institutions are frightened of this voice and will fight it because it means that they will die as a result.

As at the time of the reformation - the general adoption of blogging tools  will lead to the overthrow of the corporate and the institutional mind. In so doing it will release the vast treasure that it locked up in the costs of corporate and institutional  life. It will free men and women from being peons in a feudal state where they had to live as liege men and offer fealty to their overlords.

We are not only oppressed by those in power in institutional life, we, like medieval peasant, are complicit. We know of no other life. Knowing no other life, like those in Plato's cave, we cannot imagine what freedom from institutional life might be like. We fear freedom because we see no alternative to bondage.

Even simple blogging can help here. It offers for the first time to each of us the potential to find our voice. At first maybe to tell the world what we had for breakfast or to recall some work idea. But I have found in myself a huge change in the last year in my inner voice and in the confidence as I discover that I am not alone in how I think.

Until now people who think as I do have struggled alone. We are by nature are not joiners. Fewer of us every day work in institutional life and cannot use that voice. What "organ" do we have to speak with a human voice? Blogging By finding so many of us out there, we grow in confidence and our voice becomes less hesitant. I feel wonder as I read new blogs every week and see how close our thinking is. This is how power is created

Technical talk is helpful. It leads to better tools. But let's talk more about how we will use blogging to change our world. It is not about making the corporation better - this type of discussion would be the same as a group of monks talking about how printing was going to help the church. It is about how to we take the institution out of our lives.

(Thanks to Dave Pollard for getting me going this week)

[Robert Paterson's Radio Weblog]

One aspect that Robert is leading to is that the most revolutionary technologies, the ones that changed things, often enlarge the social discourse to larger groups. Blogging does the same thing, providing an outlet for social interactions impossible before. You can interact with people you never see in places you will never visit. The community of ideas is so greatly enlarged then.

I read people whose opinions I disagree with, because they provide me insights into their worries. I read people I do agree with because they present me with facts that I was unaware. People blog because of the passions they possess. Only people with something worth saying will say it for very long.

But I am noticing personally another aspect of these technologies. The ideas and passions that I run across are also transferable to the outside world. In particular, I have been working with some not-for-profits the last few months. They love passionate people and the ideas I have get a voice that was difficult in a corporate setting. What Robert says about not being joiners was true for me. But now I have joined and found myself to be incredibly empowered. I wonder why I did not do this a long time ago. But I would not feel as confident or be as passionate if I had not found others who appreciated what I had to say.

I think that these technologies will dramatically alter the world in ways that we can not even imagine, just as the printing press did. It will have effects on all areas of our lives. But it will come from the bottom. I am just one person who has felt that I can go and use my talents in the 'real' world as much as the virtual. I can actually DO something rather than just write it. If even 1% of the bloggers do similarly ( and I think it will be a much larger number), we are talking tens of millions of people primed to take action. It does not matter what the action is. The addition of millions of passionate people to the mix will have a huge effect on society. We are beginning to see this in small doses with such things as Howard Dean's campaign. In 10 years the changes will be huge.  comment []11:22:54 AM    

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