Re: JP Barlow, democracy and ACF

Suresh Naidu (
Wed, 18 Sep 1996 00:03:33 -0400 (EDT)

Suresh Naidu
Superconductor in Training

Jesus Saves! Gretsky Scores!

On Tue, 17 Sep 1996, Alexander 'Sasha' Chislenko wrote:

> [ ACF stands for Automated Collaborative Filtering if you forgot]
> The September issue of Wired carried an article by
> famous-as-a-visionary John Perry Barlow, entitled
> "The Powers That Were".
> JPB calls US democracy "Government by Hallucinating Mob,
> driven mad by television", explaining that much of the
> knowledge about current social issues is available to the
> public via advertisement-sponsored TV (and other mass media)
> that selects both content and presentation with the goal to
> keep the audience near their TV sets, so that they can see
> more ads and make more money for advertisers and media owners.
> As the result, juicy/silly non-issues manufactured for
> keeping the lowest common denominator bottom glued to the
> couch, steal public attention from real serious problems -
> and then the populace elects its representatives to "handle"
> these TV-induced collective hallucinations.
Completely, the tool of government/corporate control is far subtle than
the gun. Until people get off their soma-filled butts and start taking an
active hand in their society, we will always find coercive authority
present. >
JPB suggests some observations on how U.S. got into this
> pitiful state, and ideas on how the Cyberspace can help
> restructure social knowledge-delivery and decision-making
> mechanisms. He does not mention ACF - though, in my opinion,
> ACF has the potential of playing a very significant role in
> intelligent demassifying and fine-tuning of the architecture
> of social conversation.
I agree, although it is not going that way currently. Much like the
Internet was hyped as a true "grassroots" media, with the individual
engaged in true two-way conversation. I still hold this hope, although
with the advent of the web and decline of usenet, I doubt it will happen.

> > Now, the question is, will the ACF developers
steer their > technology towards commercial goals, trying to develop
> "personalized glues" to paste each individual bottom to its
> couch, and deliver whatever-pleases-you-personally to keep
> you in front of the screen even longer and see more - and
> better targeted - ads than TV ever could - and make still
> more money? Or will ACF system development be based on an
> effort to leverage the potential of the technology for
> intentional social engineering?
If you give the technology to the hands of the people, not the elites,
then you will find true social change occuring. Unless the media as a
whole becomes a
forum for debate rather than advertising, any new media will be tdominated
by conglomerates. The thing is, government is too incompetent to effect
this, and corporations are too selfish. >
> My expectation is that this will be business-as-usual:
> efforts will be made to make money, but the resulting
> technology will have some social-restructuring side-effects.
> The cultural consequences should be somewhat beneficial - this
> time. We just seem to be lucky to live in the technological
> period when the irresponsible-as-usual development happens
> to bring positive results. It started recently and may end
> well within our lifetimes. Maybe, by that time we'll learn
> to rely more on vision than on luck. Maybe, not.
I certainly hope so
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> Alexander Chislenko <<>
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