Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The reason we need the internet...

Crooked Timber are dong a discussion of Charlie Stross's books and it is, as expected, fantastic. Paul Krugman is talking about development economics in the Merchant Princes, for God's sake. Particularly enjoyed this, from CS:

Old certainties have been eroding: family, religion, gender roles, race, the hopelessly compromised multinational news media, politicians mired in the megaphone era and trying to grapple with ubiquitous information overload at the same time that they’ve been systematically stripped of actual power by the trade treaties of Empire. And so the existing establishment figures shout louder to drown out the noise, and foment moral panics and pass increasingly draconian laws just to be seen to be Doing Something. And something is done: anti-terrorism laws are applied to fly-tippers, bugging facilities are used to see that parents aren’t conspiring against the interests of the state by sending their children to the wrong school, and the unforseen complications of the disconnect between authority and real power multiply exponentially.

Nor is it obvious that the control-freak response of the traditional political centres to these challenges will succeed—that the Stasi-esque mountains of metadata being amassed by such processes as the Interception Modernization Program will hold back the flow: they’ve bought into what Cory Doctorow calls the MetaCrap delusion—that metadata is accurate, and if they can only hoard and search enough of it, they’ll find the answer to that which ails them. [[]]

But ultimately the only source of accurate metadata we’ve got is the human species, with its insatiable appetite for gameplay and pinning labels on things.

Stick that in your International Realtions shaped pipe and smoke it!


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