I guess it's the eclipse coming, that will bathe our planet in evil darkness and poison wells and such. Not only do we have the worst threat to the economy and intellectual property in Second Life in our history, with barely a murmur from the general population of merchants (I think they haven't heard it yet? Or left for Blue Mars already?), we had Beth Noveck come into Second Life.
Talk about a dark cloud over the moon! I have been a long-time critic of this wikitarian and collectivist theory pusher who...came to power in the Obama Administration! I knew there was a reason for my chilling premonition in 2005 about all this...
I was unable to attend the function today organized by the Markle Foundation in RL and the chirpy Rik Riel in SL because I had a more important meeting in real life -- but count on Rik to say absolutely nothing in a typically tekkie exhuberent blog -- he is a master of the content-free post -- making it seem like just the mere presence of one of the goddesses of the Obama Administration talking about Technology is enough to tide us over with thrilling democratic ecstasy. Has anybody actually been to this much vaunted IT Dashboard? -- an exercise in how you can get flashy Flash and fancy bar graphics to dazzle people into not noticing there are no facts?! Or to the Recovery.gov where supposedly you can "interact"...but it's by filling out and sending a template blind as you would on a site in the 1990s -- no polls, comments, widgets, nothing? These are jokes -- these are pathetic losers and embarassments.
No hope either from The New York Times, where geek bits blogger Saul Hansell is of course loving up Noveck, as an opensource groupie himself.
Imagine, the sordid, oppressive little gamerz and forumz culture we all know and hate, where pasty little fanboyz push their pudgy little fingers down hard all day on the "Flag" or "Abuse Report" buttons, and where posts are "voted up or down" and can "disappear" like on various gaming or geek sites (Massively or Slashdot instantly come to mind) is used now due to Beth Noveck's ministrations on *a website for the American people, where the U.S. Constitutional First Amendment should apply in fact.* There's a kind of cornfield of flagged posts still shown in at least some views, but we can't know how much is deleted. It's fascinating -- and sickening.
In fact, I really need to start writing my Congressmen instead of wasting time on things like banging on the lib Lindens, and lobby for a unified moderation policy under the First Amendment for all government websites, that would not involve user-based police-informant style disciplining, that would not involve Digg like plusing or minusing that is easily gamed, and that would open up to Congressional debate and scrutiny this whole phony Web 2.0 democracy claim that is really an end run around Congress and the courts and a repudiation of the separation of powers and checks and balances that make this country great.
I'll tuck my posts down below in case the mods lose it.
At the Sunlight Foundation blog (in queue)
Prokofy Neva said:
I’ll tell you what *I* think of Beth Noveck and her ideas: I haven’t encountered anything so alarming in my lifetime that constituted such a threat to democracy and civil rights since…I studied in the Soviet Union.
While dressed up in new cyber-clothing and glamorous Web 2.0 rhetoric, her collectivist ideology reduces the role of the individual and indeed makes the group dominate him in a social construct online little different than such ideologies of the 20th century offline.
Wikitarianism makes a big fanfare of “Here comes everybody” — but then in the case of these bureaucratic “democratic centralists,” doubles back and tells us that 10,000 people are too hard to manage when they all talk at once, and we need special cadres to speak for us as “experts”.
Her blog is also a sterling example of the awfulness of online forums that grew out of the culture of geeks and gamerz, with their system of having players report on other players, turning them all into informants for online community or gaming companies, and then double-plus-gooding up the posts that were liked by the mods, and pushing down into the memory hole those they hated.
Key to Noveck’s wikitarian notions is the right of only coders or bureaucrats like herself to “frame the issue properly” — the crowd isn’t sourced on the *framing* or selecting of issues, only called in to plus-up the results.
Then the crowd is “managed” much like Putin’s “managed democracy” and steered along lines suitable to those in charge. It’s worse than a pseudodemocratic exercise because it actively undermines the real government institutions with their checks and balances and separation of powers, substituting them with an erstatz “open” mob-generated list of policies that in fact are culled out of the “double plussed” in response to precooked formulations.
I have lots and lots of questions about how Wiki government works, that I’ve repeatedly asked on these website and blogs, which are all hat and no cattle. For example a typical “Gov 2.0″ website that is supposed to be giving us “transparency” in government — the IT Dashboard — never tells you the names of any software programs, whether they are opensource or closed source, what consulting firms were used, etc. Fancy bar graphs and timelines are suppose to dazzle us into not noticing the basics.
Ultimately, Noveck’s website with it’s little “Open Gov” slogan at the bottom of the post and the COMMENTS CLOSED right next to nearly every entry says it all.
I then struggled with Ms. Noveck's site itself -- which is a horror. After joining, I couldn't see any submit comment or reply buttons visible whatsoever on a single post. Maybe this is an IP block, but that would be paranoid, even for me, knowing all the facts : ) See if you can see it.
On the New York Times (in queue)
I’ve long been alarmed by Beth Noveck’s collectivist theories:
When she first came to Second Life in 2006 and started a closed island called “Democracy” but then never really followed up, I began to actively worry when I saw how little accord she gave to individual rights, and how much she promoted faddish online theories about groups that in fact draw on the same ideas as the totalitarianisms of the 20th century:
I never imagined in my worst nightmare that someone with this sort of extremist ideology, who distracts from some of this extremism by picking populist topics like “let’s fix the patents systems,” would actually *come to power*. I find it *chilling*.
What Luke says here is symptomatic of this entire sick tekkie mess: undermining representative democracy, achieved by valid voting systems, and replacing it with unelected wired mobs, who do end-runs around institutions set up with check and balances and *separation of powers*. There is no separation of powers in the wiki vision of Noveck and others who want executive fiat installed by coders to replace real democracy.
What’s amazing about Beth is how she has doubled back to undo her supposed wikitarian views to install, like Clay Shirky, more checks on the group’s set of individuals with various empowered leaders or facilitators–so now we’re really talking collectivism with its typical ruse of pretending to be for everybody, and faking equality, while a few run roughshod.
There is this terribly romantic yet totalitarian notion that “corruption” and “protection of the status quo” won’t be inherent in the wikitarian metaverse. Of course it will. And with no separation of powers for the wired crowdsourced mobs, no open legislative debate and free media, we will have just one set of wonks deciding who is a “troll” - by which they mean anyone who disagrees with them forcefully.
I don’t want wonks to triumph over trolls. I didn’t elect these wonks, they are executive appointments over which Congress has little knowledge or say. I don’t think *they* should get to determine what a “troll” is — an overbroad notion that shouldn’t be invoked in a democratic discourse. It’s a vicious hangover from the geeky days of the Well and the gamerz culture.
A major problem with this wikitarian approach handing over decisions over “who is a troll” to “wonks” is that the First Amendment is completely undone. Where is the public commons where the First Amendment will be given effect and enjoyment? Certainly not in Noveck’s wikiverse.
Direct democracy and e-government and Gov 2.0 are all shills — when Noveck says only experts can run things she’s harking back to the Bolshevik model that imposed collectivist ideas like this by force in the Soviet Union.
These views are among the greatest threats to American democracy and free speech in our time, and the wonkiness of the topic means they get little notice as they instill a revolution by stealth.
The awful insolent and insular culture of the opensource movement around Stallman, the Well, Linux, etc. has bled into the body politic now and is affecting even basic freedoms of media and governance. This could happen not only because of the Silicon Valley funding of the Obama campaign, among other lefties, but because Chicago radicals and related leftists attracted to opensource romanticism also backed Obama and became advisers (Lessig, Noveck).
We need to ask some very hard questions of this new powerful wonk silencing critics by labelling them as “trolls”:
1. Who supervises the coders on your wiki? Do the users of the government’s wiki get to participate in its coding decisions or are they kept out of the loop while a select elite makes social policy under the guise of technological problems like “solving bugs”?
2. Can you vote “no” on this wiki? Or must you only double-plus-good everything up or “rate it” up?
3. Is there a tiny cabal as on Wikipedia that really makes the decisions on how to resolve editing wars and controversies? How many government employees are actually using the wiki, and how are they incorporated into decision making?
4. Where/how/ are decisions made about what kind of software to purchase? Is there a tilt toward picking opensource software for ideological reasons? Is anybody tracking the real budget for software, and what type it is? The IT dashboard is woefully inadequate, showing not even what type of software, its name, the consulting cost, the licensing cost, whether OS, etc.
5. How are purchasing decisions made about software solutions? Are these benefiting any inside the new digital beltway, the Gov 2.0 types flocking to all the big IT sponsored seminars and barcamps and unconferences to really decide things behind the scenes, away from Congress and the American people? do you think if you twitter from some ecstatic workshop about how groovy Drupal is, that you have enacted transparency?
There is a LOT that needs to be done to make this bunch accountable. They are indeed the most frightening thing that has ever happened to the U.S. government in my life time. We could stop Bush and torture and the ruination of Constitutional freedoms with our existing long traditions of civil rights litigation, media, NGOs, and of course representative democracy! But we will find it very hard to stop people who use the gamerz techniques of boot/ban/mute/eject/.
Also a comment here where her big fangirl Nancy Scola is gushing about her.