Re: The Death of Distance and Analogies

Gregory Alan Bolcer (
Thu, 09 Jul 1998 11:07:39 -0700

> I'd guess so too. There is a difference between ubiquitous and "free
> and open". I could imagine a ubiquitous system that is full of
> security and monitoring.

They are discussing this on dist-obj? It's how you manage
data-consistency, not how open or free a society is. Take China
for instance. They are like an enterprise database system. You
carefully control all the action to ensure that you have one
big homogenous society. The US on the other hand is like
the WWW. You have lots and lots of independent actions,
ideas, and movements going on, but you can reconcile them
all through the protocols of the government, constitution,
and a common language and definitions such as English.
What are the parallels? Which scales better?

Secondly, I was going to respond to Adam's utopiae posting.
It's probably time we updated our common vision of the shinning
city on the hill. The two competing where Orwell's 1984 and
Huxely's Brave New World, the second where we as information
consumers live in a constant barage of mass consumerism as
seen in Delillo's 'White Noise', drowning in our own ego-centricism
and overabundance of information. How does a person really manage
the raw amounts of information they get day-to-day? The answer
is they ignore it. 1984 came and went and the US citizenry was
happy to say that we avoided that one pitfall, but modern US
is more like Huxley's BNW. Here's Huxley's checklist:

o Over-Population: Possible, but I would bet the Malathusians
are always wrong. I think that you can extrapolate any
trend to the extreme, but nature doesn't often support it.

o Quantity, Quality, Morality: If you get the chance to rent
the video Gattaca, please do so. It's a very good movie.
It's one type of utopia wrapped up in eugenics and dysgenics
where you know everything about a person including when and
what they will die from before they are born. My sister used
to work at the California Fertility clinic, parents are
psychotic about controlling their makeup and fertility of
their offspring. Look at everything else, cloning, UCI's
fertility clinic scandal, supposed decline of morals in the US.
If you get the chance, also read Pirsig's Lila. It's an
exploration of the morals of contemporary society. He makes
an excellent argument, but then ruins it all by contradicting
himself to prop up one of his ideologies. This leadd directly
into the next...

o Propaganda in a Democratic Society: Two words: Peter Arnett.
Like the artistocrats of the 17th century France, the mainstream
media is ridiculously. Ideology is winning out over rationality.
Humans are a good deal less rational than Jefferson assumes,
but at the same time they aren't the expeditious sex freaks that
Freud assumes motivates everyone.

o Propaganda under a Dictatorship: Everyone assumes that they
bad old days of mass murder, wars, corruption are over. We
have a new world peace. The problem with being egocentric is
that you assume everyone thinks like you. A dictatorship is
first and foremost to make sure that by all means including force
noone is given the ability to make trouble, rock the boat.

o Over-Organization: To keep people from making trouble, a society
government, dictatorship, nation-state, utopia will employ
several means and mechanisms. Perpetuate addictions, legalize
a degree of hedonistic behavior. Look at the government's
laws eroding the makeup of the family. Single mothers, crack
babies, marriage penalties; deadbeat dads are treated more
seriously and have freedoms curtailed more than muderers.
The only reason they don't put them in prison is that they are
worth more as slave labor. The social ethic is towards, not
self-reliance, but government reliance to enforce an organization
on the world. It makes a virtue of necessity, where freedoms
are compromised in the name of perceived threats and common

o The Arts of Selling: Here's a myth: Advertising has the ability
to allow the common man to put aside his rationality in order
to have it overpowered by his emotional need to obtain a product
or service. Advertising comes in all shapes and sizes. Look at
the proposed US tobacco settlement. Advertising is the evil.
If only they wouldn't advertise, then nobody would smoke. "The
survival of a democracy depends upon large numbers of people to
make realistic choices in the light of adequate information."
One of my criticisms of modern day journalism that is shared by
Fallows, Katz, Drudge, and others is that content is subject
to commercial pressures. If you have competing content, then
you have the ability to determine the validity and value of
a story rather than having the content controlled by an oligopoly
of media outles.

o Brainwashing: As practiced in its traditional form, it's mostly
gone; Remember Guyana? But think about Louis Farrakhan(sp?),
or other organized cults. Some of the pressure techniques.
People who aren't missing something in their lives aren't
susceptible to brainwashing. People with too much information
will reject it, people with anxiety about too much information
will willingly cede their thinking to another group. Also,
schools nowadays don't teach facts, nor even problem solving
skills; they teach self-esteem.

o Chemical Persuasion: Who knows, the CIA and KGB used to have
big programs experimenting with behavioral control. Nowadays,
there's prozac and viagra. Before anyone jumps down my throat,
there's two types of behavioral controls: 1) using chemicals
to suppress negative side effects, 2) using chemicals to
produce positive ones. They each can be used either positively
or negatively.

o Subconcious Persuasion: When Piaget cameto the US and started
talking about levels of moral development, the Americans asked
a question none of the Europeans had. How can you use this
information to speed up the moral development of children?
The answer is through social conditioning. Elliot and Arronson
talk about the social effects of living up to a expectation.
They have years of experients studying school children, US
military, prisoners, etc. Pre-concious perception isn't
regularly used in films, television, web-pages, but then
I wouldn't know about. If anyone sees any, please alert
use. Nobody has any hankering for asparagus do they?

o Hypnopaedia: Once a common practice for prisoner reform,
putting speakers under their pillows, this isn't regularly
practices, although I am positive that the general dim of
NYC is enough to drive anyone insane with strange thoughts.

So, maybe just a little more subtle, but resounding. Favor
truth over ideology. One of my favorite Nietsche quotes, in
case I hadn't posted it before on the coming new philosophy.
His description was about 100 years too early. I think rather
than an age of mass enlightenment, we are going to enter into an age
of competing truths that are no longer self-evident.

Are these coming philosophers new friends of "Truth"? That is probable
enough, for so far all philosophers have loved their truths. But they will
certainly not be dogmatists. It must offend their pride, also their
taste, if their truth is supposed to be a truth for everyman--which
has so far been the secret wish and hidden meaning of all dogmatic
aspirations. "My judgement is *my* judgement": no one else is
easily entitled to it--that is what such a philosopher of the future may
perhaps say of himself.

One must shed the bad taste of wanting to agree with man. "Good"
is no longer good when one's neighbor mouths it. And how should there be a
"common good"! The term contradicts itself: whatever can be common always
has little value. In the end it must be as it is and always has been:
great things remain for the great, abysses for the profound, nuances
and shudders for the refined, and, in brief, all that is rare for the rare."


p.s. I was going to write a post about how Endeavors uses XML
to keep object state and how we coordinate the behaviors of an
object, but this sounded more interesting.