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Your comment - as well as the query by John, of course - is most appreciated.
Do I have quick, good answers? No! But we MUST search for them. Points along the route toward this holy grail, points we cannot lose sight of, are
(1) that ALL people on this planet share a common fate tied up with its quality as a habitat and, hence, that ALL people ought have a say in matters pertaining to our environment and survival. Isolationism may have been good for the century of John Quincy Adams, but circumstances have changed since then.
(2) that we cannot reasonably expect ALL people to be sufficiently informed about environmental (and related political and financial issues, etc.), hence that by far the most of us need depend on judgment and actions of a few who are selected for their expertise by elected representatives.
(3) point 2 begs the question of judgment about an electorates ability
to judge the fitness of those standing for election - in terms of aptitude
as well as in terms of moral stance. Current reality is that, for example,
about half of eligible voters in the U.S. abstained from voting for the
country's presidency, and those who did vote did mostly so without anything
near adequate information about the candidates. Hence many feel they need
to resort to campaigns, pressure tactics, participate in the corruption
of so-called representatives, etc.
Call me a dreamer, but what other way out is there than raising the comptetency of both groups: candidates and elctorates, to say nothing of professional expertise of scientists, etc.?
Really, we are talking here about a nearly impossibly tall order. So tough and stymying perhaps that first inclination is to turn away from even thinking about the problem beyond shooting off our mouths about the wrongs of "the system" and what "they" should or should not do.
But the beginnings of a solution would be, if we wish to maintain a democratic approach for running ur communal affairs, to find ways of making it TECHNICALLY possible to bring about improving individual competencies toward participation in the improvement of collective IQs (Engelbart). (Beyond the technical aspect there is much to be done in the social, psychological domains as well, but let's stick with the technical aspects for now.) In short, we are talking about improving the effective human intellect - in part by natural means in part by digital augmentation.
The Engelbart approach to digital augmentation has two components: (a) enabling individual knowledge workers to solve problems faster and more effectively, and (b) enabling people with various talents to do so collectively. As for myself, I have been mainly thinking of how individuals might bolster their opinions with facts that can be trusted to be correct - facts in the social/political and in the scientific/technical domains - and also how they might better assess potential candidates for roles in governance.
It seems obvious to me that finding ways of optimizing the usefulness of the WWW in this regard is one very good thing to do. Basically, to see what we really can do about "helping people make more effective use of computers and the Internet."
Gary Richmond wrote:
You wrote in an earlier post addressed to Dennis and me, following Dennis' infinitely reasonable, balanced and supportive comments, that such differences of opinion/judgment among thoughtful men. . . are mostly a matter of insufficient availability of shared, verifiable facts.and almost at once--as if to begin to validate this last point-- John posted his truly "superb, stimulating" question, followed quickly by your equally stimulating initial response.
I believe that, on this forum, we'd do well to address that latter weakness in citizens' private and public debates. How can we design and use digital technology to overcome that weakness, and also how can we arrive at better, more efficient decision-making processes?
Doug's dream is to come up with ways in which a group of people with different talents can work and evolve together to solve complex problems in as short an order as possible. That is what his OHS/Hyperscope ideas are about. From my own side, I believe that we ought be actively engaged in arriving at better ways for individual citizens to arrive at more reliable assessments on which to base our atitude and conduct in the democratic process.
. . . with the kind of openmindedness and talent on this forum and the resources available to us, we should be in as good a position as any group to make some modest headway toward designing urgently needed tools.
This is the kind of activity that IMO makes this list unique--that there is a pragmatic attempt made here to go beyond the mere expression of opinion in mere discussion to actually improving the means to "Making Doug's Dream Come True" (in Aldo de Moor's formulation, the title of his ICCS02 PORT workshop paper).
May we continue to work together to that end.
Henry K van Eyken wrote:3D973D8D.email@example.com">John. A superb, stimulating question! And one, I imagine, you already must have given thought to yourself - upon reading your affiliation (Public Electronic Access to Knowledge,Inc) and the organization's aim ("Helping people use computers and the Internet more effectively"). Living rather isolated from th world, except for the Internet connection, I have had in mind for some time to find out if a person or persons in this group cared to write a users' guide to search engines so as to provide a better insight in how info is gathered. Also, we would want to know more about any filters in the system to learn more about what promotes and what resists flow of information. We need to know more about sources (reliability) of information. Off hand, only one study comes to mind, about the trustworthyness of health information, done by the Pew Institute, which I haven't read yet, but will turn to. We (myself, Jack and a fri nd) recently visited a Dr. Lawrence Weed, the author of the Problem-Knowledge Coupler, a software that links medical diagnostic observations to the medical literature, a scheme that makes use of a team of experts continually scanning the literature. (More: www.pkc.com) We were assured that this technique ought have wide applicability and I am just waiting for some inspiration of how we can get into this deeper and ruitfully. From your affiliation, John, I should think you may want to contact Dr. Weed's group (in Burlington, Vt). Another, quite different, avenue t be explored is to look at a non-profit organization of investigative journalists. They have published materials on political corruption and commercial practices as employed by the tobacco industry, among others. I have reference to this somewhere in my system, just need digging it out. All in all, we would as a first ste p build some sense of the scope of the problem. Another approach is one as suggested by you: analyzing a conundrum such as the Iraqi go-or-no-go issue, or such issues as the credibility of environmental futurist scenarios. So, I realize that you were pushing for something more concrete in a step-1, step-2, step-3 way. I haven't gotten there yet except for that very obvious sine-qua-non, the need for voting individuals worldwide to have full access to the WWW and information as to how to use that access as effectively as possible. Which, of course, ties in with "helping people to use computers and the Internet more effectiely." I certainly will give your question more thought and I hope that others on this forum will do so as well - stumbling toward solutions. Henry John Sechrest wrote:Following this thought of building tools to support a greater understanding, I have always found that it is easier to build a tool if you understand what the task is and do it by hand first. So, since we are wanting to do a debate/discussion better, What if you took this Iraq question and followed the appropriate process using the tools that we have. Can we emulate via HTML a sufficiently rich example of a good debate/discussion which would illustrate the goal that you have? If so...l What are the first three steps to doing it? Henry K van Eyken <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes: % % --------------E190CD14BEF16E93850E174A % Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii % Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit % % Gary and Dennis. % % I don't believe we are really at odds about the Hussain/Iraq issue other % than, perhaps, in some details. And if we ae at odds about those then it % is most likely so because of our different sources of information and % differing personal experiences. So, all in all, any differences are % mostly a matter of insufficient availability of shared, verifiable % facts. % % I believe that, on this forum, we'd do well to address that latter % weakness in citizens' private and public debates. How can we design and % use digital technology to overcome that weakness, and also how can we % arrive at better, more efficient decision-making processes? % % Doug's dream is to come up with ways in which a group of people with % different talents can work and evolve together to solve complex problems % in as short an order as possible. That is what his OHS/Hyperscope ideas % are about. From my own side, I believe that we ought be actively engaged % in arriving at better ways for individual citizens t o arrive at more % reliable assessments on which to base our atitude and conduct in the % democratic process. % % These would be good things to concentrate on because once the Hussain % crisis is no longer front and center in our preoccupations, there will % be other crises - well, there already are, and plenty of them. And with % the kind of openmindedness and talent on this forum and the resources % available to us, we should be in as good a position as any group to make % some modest headway toward designing urgently needed tools. % % Henry % % % % Gary Richmond wrote: % % > Henry, % > % > Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful response to the Not % > In Our Name "Statement of Conscience" that I posted. % > % > I was going to wait a few days to respond in order to see what others % > on the list might be thinking, but I have been encouraged by Aldo de % > Moor to forward an email that I sent to him today concerning the issue % > at hand. % > % > While this is certainly not a complete response to your post, since it % > hardly addresses where I am tend to agree with you (for example, % > regarding the language used in the NION statement), still, it gets % > directly at some critical points relating to those matters where we % > seem to be at odds. % > % > Gary % > % > ```` % > ```````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````` % > % > ````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````` % > % > Hi Aldo, % > % > Thanks for your words of encouragement. They were needed and are % > appreciated. I certainly agree with your "practical interpretation of % > buddhism." % > % > Still, you no doubt saw Henry van Eyken's response to my posting the % > NION "Statement of Conscience" on the bootstrap list. I can't say % > that I feel very encouraged by his analysis. Sure, Hussain is an evil % > man. But that's not the point. The possibility of a horrendous % > pre-emptive war with the resultant lost of many innocent lives and a % > further eroding of international stability (and the likelihood of % > increased terrorism in response to it) for what might turn out to be % > no better reason than that Bush wants it ought be reason for % > considerable debate. No doubt Henry's comment that a statement of % > conscience doesn't help the analysis of the complex situation we're % > facing is correct--it is, after all, only a statement of conscience. % > But his either/or, right/wrong analysis doesn't help either. He wrote: % > % >> The question in my mind now is: will good fortune rid us of Hussain % >> before he uses his weapons, in which case no war is necessary. Or % >> will he be able to build up an arsenal and a band of co-conspiring % >> terrorists to threaten his neighbors and the world beyond, in which % >> case we better take preemptive action. You see, whether we will be % >> "wrong" or "right" won't be known for some time to come. % > % > "Good fortune"? What about weapons inspection? How clear is it that % > he has this "arsenal"? We have only Rumsfeld's word on the Iraqi % > "co-conspiring terrorists"--van Eyken's comments sound to my ear like % > so much falling into line with the disinformation we're being handed % > by the Bush administration and a compliant US press. And if he's had % > these "weapons of mass destruction" for years and hasn't used them, % > why should we be rushing into war--which m ight impel him to use % > them--without substantial debate and unilaterally, without support of % > the UN and the international community? And the very notion of America % > initiating a pre-emptive war is alarming to me in the extreme. May not % > Pakistan follow our lead and use its atomic weapons on India? A % > letter today to the editor of the NYTimes summarizes something of my % > view: % > % >> A large number of thoughtful, patriotic Americans oppose an attack % >> on Iraq based on a genuine concern that the cost to our country will % >> be greater if we do than if we don't. % >> % >> It is incumbent on the administration and Congress to persuade us % >> otherwise before committing us to a war that will take many lives % >> and is likely to be very costly in fiscal and international % >> political capital. % >> % >> If a solution other than war to the Saddam Hussein menace exists, we % >> should be wise enough to find it; it will be more satisfying to % >> outwit Saddam Hussein than to kill Iraqis. % >> % >> Many of us believe that the call to war against Iraq is the boyish % >> whimsy of our president and that the reluctance of other leaders to % >> object arises from political considerations. % >> We implore sensible people, and especially Congressional leaders, to % >> raise their voices in objection to any indulgence of presidential % >> hubris that seems determined to lead us into a questionable war with % >> the associated, tragic waste of lives and resources. % > % > I'll respond to Henry in the next few days if no one else on that list % > finds his compliance with the position being disseminated by the press % > troubling. But I hope some other voice of rea son rises in response to % > his expression of. . .well, FEAR that the Bushites are whipping up. % > Expressions of fear are of even less value than those of conscience. % > % > Gary % > % > % > % > Aldo de Moor wrote: % > % >> On Fri, 27 Sep 2002, Gary Richmond wrote: % >> % >> % >> > Aldo, forgot to hit Reply All. G % >> > % >> > Myself, I'm sick to death of the whole thing. Of course, I keep % >> > trying % >> > to find ways to encourage opposition to "all this" on-line and in % >> > my % >> > work at the college, but one can begin to feel as absurd as % >> > Sisyphus % >> > (Camus' version), especially when one finds oneself either (1) % >> > preaching % >> > to the already converted or (2) running across idiocy amongst the % >> & gt; "best % >> > and the brightest" that one meets on and off line or (3) finding % >> > oneself--or being made to feel--hopelessly naive. % >> > % >> Don't give up, Gary. Remember, all static (and apparently hopeless % >> looking) situations are in fact the resultant of incredible forces % >> below % >> the surface. Lots of critical capacity is building, definitely in % >> Europe % >> and, I'm sure, in the US as well. % >> % >> Let Bush & Ideological Sons continue the War on Terror. Ours is the % >> "Meta-War" on Terror: we have to continue to be in pragmatic mode % >> and % >> examine and investigate un- or insufficiently challenged % >> assumptions. % >> % >> The world has become an incredibly complex and dynamic place. Lots % >> of % >> reactionary people are afraid, and d esperately looking for % >> stability, % >> which they think to have found in a policy of going strong on an % >> easy % >> target. Their real goal is not obliterating Iraq, but safety. Let's % >> keep % >> trying to find ways to provide alternative ways to safety. % >> % >> Keep in mind my practical interpretation of buddhism: aim towards % >> your % >> goals, but be satisfied with being % >> % >> involved in the process. Even if you % >> never reach your objectives, feel that your voice matters. % >> Persistence % >> pays. % >> % >> Take care, % >> % >> Aldo % >> % >> ========================================================================== % >> ---/// e-mail: email@example.com % & gt;> IN|F/OLAB phone +31-13-4662914/3020, fax +31-13-4663069 % >> |/// home page: http://infolab.uvt.nl/people/ademoor % >> % >> Dr. Aldo de Moor % >> Infolab, Dept. of Information Systems and Management - Tilburg % >> University % >> PO Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands % >> ========================================================================== % >> % >> % >> % > % > % > % > Henry K van Eyken wrote: % > % >> Gary. % >> % >> First thing I should say that I myself am somewhat leary about % >> George W.'s mix of motives w.r.t. a military action against Iraq's % >> Saddam Hussain. (Please, notice that I did not say "against Iraq.") % >> Which of his motives are presidential, I ask myself, and which are % >> personal? % >> % >> From my reading over the years - including a biography of Hussain by % >> an Iraqi author - I have come to understand that he is a student of % >> such dictators as Hitler and Stalin and that he has been advised by % >> members of the former communist soviet establishment how to rule % >> with an iron fist. Also that he has used chemical and biological % >> agents during the war against Iran, notably on Iraqi's. Also that he % >> financially supports families of kids who blow themselves to bits in % >> attempts to bring terror to the Israelis. (And, no, I am not taking % >> sides here in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.) Also that he % >> applies his rule with a gun close at hand and that he has used it to % >> kill people who simply disagreed with him. You may have noticed that % >> pictur es and videos of Hussain's cabinet meetings show all those in % >> attendance with their hands on the table and the room in which they % >> are seated having curtains all around. You may also have noticed % >> that usually there stands a military guard right behind Hussain's % >> seat. In short, it is wise to regard Hussain as a very dangerous % >> person. Also as one who is quite prepared to take "everybody" with % >> him when his time is up. Hitler aimed to do just that with his % >> maniacal pursuit of the war in Russia and his scorched-earth % >> directive for the destruction of Germany - which to Albert Speer's % >> credit was not carried through. I fear that Hussain will be no % >> different. (I could also refer to such stories as Iraqis murdering % >> infants in Kuwaiti hospitals, but then again, we subsequently % >> learned that those stories were co ncocted by a PR/advertising agency % >> on behalf of Kuwait while the Kuwaiti "elite" was having a helluva % >> good time in Egypt while American troops were drawing their line in % >> the sand.) % >> % >> The question in my mind now is: will good fortune rid us of Hussain % >> before he uses his weapons, in which case no war is necessary. Or % >> will he be able to build up an arsenal and a band of co-conspiring % >> terrorists to threaten his neighbors and the world beyond, in which % >> case we better take preemptive action. You see, whether we will be % >> "wrong" or "right" won't be known for some time to come. % >> % >> The previous paragraphs sketch the disturbing picture of this member % >> of a democratic society not being sufficiently informed to shape a % >> clearly defensible position about whether or not to concur with % >> military action against Saddam Hussain. % >> % >> Your post is no help, really. It refers to a "Statement of % >> Conscience," but, personally, I think it utterly unconscionable to % >> take a laissez-faire attitude with respect to Hussain and thereby % >> condone the immense risk of exposing large numbers of people (friend % >> and foe alike!) to weapons of mass destruction - especially so with % >> the lesson of Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler still fresh in our % >> minds. Turning to the web site you referred to, it immediately % >> strikes me as riddled with sloganeering, polysyllables, and attempts % >> at misrepresentation. Examples: "Not in Our Name" is sloganeering % >> and the use of bold face to state "The statement appeared in the New % >> York Times on September 19" gives a first impression of the % >> statement being writt en by highly respected editorial writers, % >> whereas the subsequent lighter print tells us it is merely an % >> advertisement. Then, further catering to the readers' herd instinct, % >> it tells us that "The New York Times ad [ not simply "the ad"] % >> features a diverse list of influential names." % >> % >> It seems to me that somehow we shall need to learn to find better % >> ways for citizens in democratic societies to arrive at their % >> judgments. Somehow we shall have to learn to properly inform % >> ourselves; how to filter out what is true; how to evaluate and judge % >> the remaining sober; and then, how to act. % >> % >> "Statements of Conscience" signed by influential names are % >> inadequate for dealing with urgent, complex problems. % >> % >> Henry % >> % >> % >> Gary Richmond wrot e: % >> % >> > The beginning of "A Statement of Conscience" NION (Not In Our % >> > Name) % >> > % >> > Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing % >> > when their government declared a war without limit and instituted % >> > stark new measures of repression. % >> > % >> > The signers of this statement call on the people of the U.S. to % >> > resist the policies and overall political direction that have % >> > emerged since September 11, 2001, and which pose grave dangers to % >> > the people of the world. % >> > % >> > http://www.nion.us/ ----- John Sechrest . Helping people use CTO PEAK - . computers and the Internet Public Electronic . mo re effectively Access to Knowledge,Inc . 1600 SW Western ,suite 180 . Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org Corvallis Oregon 97333 . (541) 754-7325 . http://www.peak.org/~sechrest