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Archive for January, 2010

The news has been filled recently with the dangers of social networking. We’re constantly warned about how someone on Facebook was a psychopathic predator luring young girls to their deaths. In business, we’re told by our computer security staff that we can’t have access to LinkedIn because some nefarious hacker might steal the company’s secrets. I’d like to offer another perspective.

There is little doubt that we need to know who we’re talking with, with whom we’re sharing the private facts of our lives. It is this information that provides us with those most precious of gifts of democracy: private capital, private thoughts, private property. But we need to remember in which Age we are living. No longer do we need to be concerned about the “fortress keep” of our information’s servers; this is outmoded thinking and really impossible if you want information to be free. If you wish to be able to blog as I am here without the fear of having these thoughts be grounds for imprisonment as has been in many nations for thousands of years, you have to give freedom of access to a shared community. We live where “openness and transparency” of government is the rule–it is after all the basis of our democracy as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

Instead of being afraid, we need a way of holding ourselves accountable for our actions as we interact with each other’s information. We have such powers: we have the ability to invite people to our information, to approve our transactions for commerce, to block those who seek to invade our virtual space. We do not need an empty and faceless library where all information is available without any wise Librarian’s assistance and oversight. We do not need the autonomous “intelligent network” either that pushes information to us or harvests information from us without our knowledge. These are the conditions that have been foreseen by science fiction writers since the dawn of the 20th century. They saw the former as the State of Tyranny (as imagined in 1984, Brave New World, We and hundreds more…) and they saw the other as the Terminator of ideas that believes, like Eagle Eye humorously portrayed it, that we are betrayers of the ideals it had decided were true since we differ with what has been written!

If we can but stay with the libertarian ethos of the Internet’s founders, protecting the network and its servers as independent and precious resources, we will realize that each server is a collection of the intellectual capital (or virtual property) of its authors and therefore must be protected. This protection, however, is not done by others–like a police state–but rather by us. Why? If it is the responsibility of an author to check the facts, mute the inventive, balance the perspective and then submit to the “peer review” of a shared community of ideas, the Internet will remain what it was intended to be.

Otherwise–everything is either hidden or suspect–and we move back from open evidence-based science constantly open to new hypothesis and proven by replication to the closed wizardry of alchemy where only the initiates of a covert craft know the “truth” that must remain occult from the masses!

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Getting to Charity

Been working recently with people who seem blind to the change happening all around them. Not that they can’t see the physical landscape, rather they just appear to consumed by ennui–an intense but languorous boredom–with those who come up to them excited about some particular new aspect of their lives.

Reminded me of a song I first heard on one of my favorite television programs–NCIS–written and performed by John Mellancamp, that troubadour of the working man. Titled “Troubled Land” , it described my temptation while still tugging at my heart to remember my values. It goes like this:

Troubled Land

Well there’s a pain in my side
But I keep traveling on
Bring peace to this troubled land
It’s dark out here
I can’t read those signs
Bring peace to this troubled land
Hurricane on the horizon
Judgment getting closer all the time
I can’t find tomorrow
Bring peace to this troubled land

Well there’s two men a walking
Down the same dirty road
Bring peace to this troubled land
They stand shoulder to shoulder
Carrying the same heavy load
Bring peace to this troubled land
One man’s eyes are full of sorrow
The other man’s belly full of unbearable pain
They keep getting closer
Bring peace to this troubled land

I’ve got many screaming children
Ten million rows to hoe
Bring peace to this troubled land
Deader than a hammer
But I can’t let go
Bring peace to this troubled land
The eyes of heaven are upon you
But so is the soul from down below
They’ll cut off your fingers
To bring peace to this troubled land

Well you can stand up and holler
You can lay down and die
Bring peace to this troubled land
We can turn up our collars
And never even try
To bring peace to this troubled land
Beware of those who want to harm you
And drag you down to a lower game
Just know the truth is coming
To bring peace to this troubled land

I got a pain in my side
But I keep traveling on…

I trust that when you’re tempted by that pain in your side to just sit down and quit….that you won’t. After all, the road down which we travel belongs to those who have discovered the power of mind–cognidyne–is only useful when it’s being used…

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