Just as Willie Horton was emblematic about the deep divide over how to deal with crime in the 1988 presidential campaign and helped sink Democratic nominee Dukakis, so Joe the Plumber is shaping up to be emblematic of the great divide about socialism in America. The witch-hunting leftist media and junkyard dogs of the leftist blogosphere and talk shows have destroyed this man's privacy, and also spread the worst kind of lies about him. This in itself is a telling aspect of what we can always expect from socialism: political oppression. Indeed, most of those sorts of problematic and even repressive acts in this campaign, whether the flip-flop on campaign finance reform, or the hacking of Palin's email, have all been on the Democratic side of the campaign. The leftist press plays up the hate screams at soccer stadiums -- those numbers of people are dwarfed by the hate and derision videos on YouTube against McCain and Palin.
We're told smugly, with gleeful malice, that Joe isn't named Joe; that he isn't really a plumber; that he *gasp* owes back taxes and that "his story has sprung leaks". Huh? Of course his name is Joe -- that is established by less hysterical media. He just happens to use his second name rather than his first, as is common -- my grandfather followed that pattern, for example. And indeed he does plumbing work on water mains -- he described chapter and verse of his jobs on Diane Sawyer's program, and his company has another person who does indeed have the plumber's license that he is derided for not possessing. He owes about $1000 in back taxes -- not uncommon, either, in a country with a fairly aggressive tax collection policy -- and of course, none of this matters whatsoever nor detracts from his central critique about Obama's policy of taxing people who make more than $250,000.
Another canard repeatedly told about Joe is that there is no company he was planning to buy. But in the interview with Diane Sawyer, he makes it clear that he was talking about a company he might LIKE to buy -- a hypothetical.
Fools rush in from the left to tell us that "wait for it!" (they scream with malicious glee) he would in fact GASP be eligible for a tax cut under Obama! That's all lies, of course, because we're not talking about his putative company's *receipts* -- we're talking about his actual income -- which indeed *would* be taxed, not withstanding Obama's claims to help small business.
In blog after blog and "liberal" paper after "liberal" paper, we read the same recitation -- name not Joe, not a plumber, owes taxes, would get a tax cut. Each and every claim falsified and skewed -- and of course each and every one of these issues entirely irrelevant to Joe's point: Obama wants to redistribute wealth, because he think wealth isn't created by the rich, but taken from the poor -- and "needs" to be given back. This socialist premise is a religious belief that you cannot persuade the pious to drop, but you can try to reason to prevent new converts. There is nothing that says because I make a dollar, it is stripped away from someone else -- it's one of the fallacies of socialism that drives its messianic zeal, and plays on class hatred in a kind of evil backwards simulation of the Christian ethic.
So it seems merely for criticizing Obama publicly, and agreeing to put himself in the spotlight, this Joe of Holland, Ohio made himself vulnerable to total exposure of his private life, with his divorce papers, tax liens, and voting record spilled over the media, although none of it is relevant to the debate, and with scarifying claims that he was some sort of secret cadre primed by the McCain campaign as well.
In trying to do my Connectivism homework, with not a lot of time to throw at it, I tuned into the podcasts, or rather, the Elluminatecasts, which is not quite the same thing as a podcasts (it's another trendy edu software with lots of confusing dials and lagginess). This is basically the Car Talk, that has one particular go-getter student (as his profile describes him) named Dave interviewing the Cyril and Methodius of Connectivism, George Siemens and Stephen Downes (who keeps reminding me of David Crosby each time I see his picture in forums).
I'm now not sure which of the four tapes it was, i.e. one of the latter 3 I think, as I caught the first one, but I think it's this one. I have to say, and the feeling is shared by others, the linking and organization of the course material is very confusing, absent, or misleading. For example the "Readings" Tab in the official course blog contains the students' blogs, not the articles recommended to be read by the professors, which also don't seem to be on the Moodle and..I forget where they are now, I think on George's blog -- but he has several, I'd have to go look, or check on my own Crib Sheet again!
In the tape I heard, here's what Stephen was saying, in my notes from about the middle -- these tapes are frustrating at one level because they take so long to get to the point. They spend a lot of time negotiating ambience. People talk a lot about how they feel, their impressions, etc. One woman speaks timidly about how there really should be a "wiki" that tells us "how to use Twitter better". Well, why? Twitter is just AIM for adults. You can power-use it like Scoble to kick up a huge firehose of noise, or dial it down to your own personally useful group of people to follow. There are all kinds of lore about Twitter. Scoble and others swear that if you have a lot more followers than people you are following, you are a horrid Twitter snob and a self-referential socmedia retard. I have something like 984 followers and 924 people I follow, because I haven't had time to go add more. I try to add everyone who follows me, and I keep looking for new people in the raw home page feed and through "friends of friends". But, meh, Twitter. Why fuss with it too much? It's a source for stories of sorts, but to really get the story, and talk about it, you have to go to places that let you type more than 140 words! I can't imagine what a wiki for "how to use Twitter" would even say, as the service itself is dirt simple: type 140 characters into this box and press SEND.
Apparently Stephen Downes, despite his implication that he wouldn't begin moderating, *has* begun to delete or block posts, because none of mine get through now on his personal Connectivism blog, which is more "official" than the Moodle, which is still open to my posts.
Stephen has been particularly neuralgic to my criticism from day one, devoting his entire first formative post in the course to a lengthy rebuttal of my simple, normal questions and refusal to believe in the propaganda of this doctrine. He's chased me in the forums, adding constant rebuttals to anything I say, usually with the geeky literalist method.
He's then kept up a whole drum beat of antagonism, characterizing me as a "troll" and even a "griefer" by cleverly alluding to this "problem" as being a reason for driving course-viewers away from the Moodle forums, and the need to get them into segregated moderated blogs, and of course, by extension, as it goes unchallenged in the comments, closed special clique groups like Ning.
Stephen Downes reminds me of Dan "Zhelezniakov" Hunter" at Terra Nova (Terra Antiqua). He is irritated when people challenge *him* and makes a big row over it instead of either a) ignoring it or b) providing rational rebuttals.
Wow, this was interesting, I didn't figure it out right away.
I was wondering when the FIC would appear in Connectivism (the Feted Inner Core, the cool kids, the teachers' pets, the devs' favourite coders, etc.). That was easy -- it was whoever got put in the Daily Downes, as I call it, the daily new bulletin from Stephen Downes, one of the two professors teaching the course. Well, that was almost too easy. I got in it on day one not by virtue of being FIC, but more as anti-FIC I suppose. After that, Stephen chastized himself with a funny phrase I keep remembering and laughing about, that went something like this, "Oh noes! Someone was wrong on the Internet." That is what I mean by one of those typically dry sort of Canadian humour lines. BTW, these peeps could be American draft-dodgers who went up there in the 60s, who knows, but for blog purposes let's call them "Canadians". I think few people ever think about or appreciate Canada, but I do, having gotten my university education there, but of course, having fled the crypto-Connectivists back when they were still in the cradle in the linguistics department.
The system is "open," so to speak, but, like most things, "not really". That is, there is this big flabby open forums, where 2,000 people can introduce themselves and chat, which is open like a sieve is open, not catching anything much. I weaved back into it tonight to pick up a few stitches, but -- whatever. The general forum is a bit like the LL general forum finally closed in horror by the Lindens -- this is where the hardline Marxists rein free and I just ask simple questions to challenge them, plus a lot of nice girls from Nova Scotia ask innocent questions and people logging on from the Seychelles look around in confusion -- that sort of thing. Some of the greatest convos have occurred there, but almost in spite of the professors who are constantly trying to parachute in and cull them, mainly through a very clever tactic: telling everybody wailing about how confused and lost they feel that this central, visible, easily-accessible forums is not really "where it's at" because "only loud voices can be heard here" (they mean me, but I could say, er, like the professors?) and that they need to start picking and choosing their feeds -- and focus on blogs. Blogs are more cool, because blogs are more trustworthy and identifiable, as the edu gang tends to put their real name, their university etc. so it is easier to deal with and "place" than the flat pages of the forums with only a single name and nothing to go with it at least on that particular Moodle service.
So subtly, or not-so-subtly, Stephen Downes basically takes out his wolf whistle, that he imagines only the dogs can hear, and tells them to go to the more intelligent blogs with the wonkier scholarly convos he can feel comfortable with (like a cosy little discussion that lets us in on the fact that way back in 2004, Stephen wrote on RSS feeds and their importantance for a semantic web. A semantic web! In 2004!). Then he figures the various cats and non-dogs will just remain stupidly on the forums where they will just keep whining at each other while "we the smart people who are surrounded by idiots" will go have real convos on blogs or in the Elluminate thinger.
So, you would think, well, in a course like this, there'd be a *cringe* wiki where people would all post stuff collectively like bulbs on a Christmas tree -- something like "everybody's blogs in the course" or "everybody who wants their blog mentioned and thinks it is relevant" would go up on that wiki or list. (This SOOOO reminds me of the time of when Pathfinder claimed to have an "open list" but then drove everybody to delicious tags where of course all the entries got buried synchronously on 9 back pages, freeing him to then advertise the ones he liked on top of that.)
But no. It didn't work that way. Like Steve Gillmor, who just picks what he picks and likes what he likes. Stephen Downes makes a list of blogs, and picks only those very specifically started up for the course, or those from his various confreres who have Ph.Ds and clever blog titles and stochastic-scholastic commentary. Naturally, my blog wouldn't go in that list, because as he explains in a note, he is only putting up "relevant blogs" and one that isn't all about the course could be eliminated, even though a) some of the blogs about the course represented have one lame throat-clearing entry a week or b) some of the Ph.D. people are writing about other topics besides CCK08 too. Oh, and of course if you want to "show up" in this big slipstream, you have to use the tag CCK08, something I won't be doing, just to put a pebble into the river and see how that works. I hate people-collectors and tag-collectors these days, they are so annoying.
So, the professor picks his friends, his docile followers with CCK08 tags -- understood, all good, doesn't matter. But, it gets worse.
Any theory of learning these days would have to concede that learning is life-long and always going on. Maybe in the old days people only had to learn a set amount of stuff, but it does seem as if in our 24/7 news cycle, if you are in the information business, you can't not keep learning. That is, I personally have to keep learning stuff everyday, the ranking of a country's partners, the price of 1,000 c/m of natural gas in Eurasia, the vote at the SC, how much tuition is in high school, what the Spanish word for "kitchen" and "ear" are. Those last two things I learned last year, and remembered them when it came time to drill my child on it again this year, but the votes at the SC will change every day depending on the resolution and the price of Cheerios is changing too. I may be able to correlate the price of my Cheerios with how the votes went at the SC, if I work at it, but I know the natural gas price and my Cheerios price *are* related.
So, learning, learning -- except not really, as I point out, just "looking stuff up". None of that is "learning". Well, maybe memorizing "la cocina" which is kinda like "kukhnya" or "kitchen" is more like associating (not sure that's the same thing as "connectivism connecting" but I don't think so). These guys are going to say that it's ok to just network around and keep "looking up stuff" because somebody else did the work of documenting, or measuring, or figuring, or making a table, or translating.
And that's just it. I don't think these decentralized, distributed, supposedly perfectly neo-communistic networks are just, or really equal. There is always somebody who has to bear the brunt of the work in it. I really think there's likely a "we pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us" coming round the bend somewhere. Or "we do all the work, and they get all the pay" or something.
Maybe I didn't need to care about the stock market, Asian bird flu, Sarkozy, or a butterfly stepped on in the jungle, but nowadays, people think they need to care *more* and connect *more* and that means they are willing to externalize all that "work" of "remembering the facts" and "leave it to the nodes".
I think leaving it to the nodes is really a dangerous business, and means we are in for a very sinewy totalitarian system in the making here, which is why I question it. People who aren't prepared to identify and accept experts and be experts themselves are going to get the dumbed-down universe they connected to.
My constant sense of Wikipedia, which I have to look at all the time like all lazy and overworked journalists and bloggers, is that on geeky topics like "social networks" it is rich and full but on political topics like "Georgia" it is poor. Even the "Alexander of Macedonia" section I looked up the other day when a new story dredged up an archeological find about something in a tomb or whatever, seemed impoverished, highlighting the fact of his gay lover or whatever, but not explaining subsequent Balkan controversies about him or anything of what it meant to conquer those territories and what happened in them. Wikipedia often seems very stumpy and bland to me these days, except of course for the geeky topics that draw geeks to edit them more or perhaps some favourite topics of liberals.
All you have to do to see the incredible bias, and the work of a jillion rabid mad-down extremist leftist geeks, is simply look at the LENGTH of the Sarah Palin entry. The CONTENT may have been brushed to a more moderate factual sheen, but the OBSESSIVENESS about her bears all the mark of armies of the left trying to discredit her. Most of the entries consists of all the blog-memed "stories" -- her Troopergate, her Bridge to Nowhere.
Now, compare and contrast to Joseph Biden's entry. Probably half the length in terms of "story," and largely consisting of references to his actual votes, articles, or MSM stories about him. What a WORLD of difference! What a REVEALING thing about Wikipedia and its excesses!
I saw a notice on Twitter, that seemed to be from an hour ago (but people are all on different time zones that there was some kind of talk with George Siemens and Stephen Downes, the Connectivism course dudes, so I clicked on the link. It took me to some page with a program called Elluminate that seems to be like Talkshoe, sort of, for group conversations with both audio and typed chat and lots of buttons and whoofers and tweeters that I didn't immediately understand.
I thought at first the chat was just old chat from whenever the session was recorded, but then I saw it move and go live. I kept clicking to see if there was an audio -- there didn't seem to be.
It seemed like people just randomly commenting -- I think the title of the entire thing was RANDOM CONVERSATIONS. So I watched the scroll and asked a few questions.
Somebody mentioned "Car Talk" -- which I figured they got from my dubbing of the recorded podcasts (or whatever they call them) which I blogged about.
I then asked if there was already a Car Talk taped in the can so I could listen later, or was this it? It wasn't clear.
Next thing I know, I get a notice YOU ARE DISCONNECTED BY THE MODERATOR STEPHEN DOWNES.
That was odd. For what? huh? Is the thing over and everybody disconnected, or is he being an ass and just disconnecting me because he sees the name Prokofy and he is pissed? I have no idea. It's strange. I try to relog -- then I'm the only one in the room.
If the entire thing was disconnecting, wouldn't he say "bye for now folks?" Anyway, I serve this up as part of the whole Connectivism stream. Chat log below.
I just want to make it clear that I've definitely resigned from the Second Life Herald.
Ages ago, I stopped writing for the Herald, submitting only the occasional story of "national importance," but not even that anymore -- the Herald is just too awful.
I thought it was important at the time I stopped writing to force them to fire me, when Walker and Pixeleen instituted a "junior author" role for everyone but themselves to have clearance on everyone's copy. I thought it was important to try to force the Herald to become true to its ideals by remaining involved, and not leaving unless I was dismissed.
But...It's a distinction without a difference at this point, because the Herald I once believed in no longer exists. I've asked to have my name removed from the masthead -- it remained on there for historical reasons -- back in friendlier and more funny days, I had the title "Monsignor Grand Inquisitor".
The Herald has really reached new lows of depravity in covering SL's depravity today -- and I simply do not want to be associated with it. The cynicism, the badly-written noir humour, the malicious glee in other's misfortune, the banality of evil, -- it really is the spawn of hell and I don't want even a tangential relationship to it.
Second Life really does need a range of media -- from tabloid to Linden blogs. The tabloid as a genre isn't necessarily reprehensible per se, even if low; but promoting and celebrating violent nihilism goes beyond tabloid reporting to malicious propaganda. I hope some hard-hitting reporters will blog more, and maybe make a paper. We definitely need one -- more than one! -- in our still very much closed society of SL.
Like all the fake consulting gurus peddling various social media cures for business, what I find equally bogus and dubious is all the jargon-laden pontificating about "e-learning" or just "learning" as it is now pronounced with a kind of ideological and idealistic lilt in the tone of voice. Fleep Tuque is trying to get me to join some social experiment online involving 1,200 joining a course which will teach you...about a theory for how 1,200 people online can take a course lol. Talk about recursivity! The theory is called "connectivity"...something, and I told her that if I joined something like that, I'd have to be critical of all the jargony stuff that just boils down to old-fashioned collectivist theories that should have died in the last centuries. She told me that criticism was ok but that I couldn't get "all flamey". See, that's what I mean. That's why these things amount not to "learning" but "indoctrination". Hold a course...but make it about digital arts...as understood under some *theory*.
Following one link to another, I came across a blog that typified that jargon-laden approach. I've heard this fellow talked about with constant awe by Christian Renaud, so I'd have lots of time for anyone so recommended. Yet it irks me to find not only the jargon, which you are just supposed to accept at Newspeak, and also all this holy faith in networks. In fact, Fleep seemed to accept my question: ok, where are people going to find knowledge on these networks, except from people who learned...the old-fashioned way lol? If you, as a high schooler, for example, use Facebook to go find somebody who has an essay you can copy (something that is increasingly plaguing schools of course), well, won't somebody have had to actually read the book and write about it the old-fashioned hard way? I just handed my son a book and told him that it worked rather like the Internet -- that he should think of it as something like a "download". He could start at the left, and move to the right. When he got to the end of the page, there wouldn't be a click, but he could take his fingers and move the page -- well, like he would do with a game manual for WoW. Works very similarly.
I really loathe the term "learning leaders". It's a new term that you find spawned on all these social media and e-learning conference circuits, along with "thought leaders". What are learning leaders and thought leaders? They aren't people recognized in a field in some old-fashioned way, by holding a position on a university faculty or having published a book of serious scholarship (unlike the quickie popular books touting various business productivity gimmicks like "Getting Things Done"). Learning Leaders are just people "famous for being famous," said to be leaders just...because the conference organizer, which might be a company or a technology or software maker says so. This industry is hugely lucrative, because people are expected to pay upwards of $696 or $1050 or more to attend these spa weekend conferences, and usually they can get their companies to pay for them.
Bleh, I hate having to devote another post to Torley, but since he's making a direct broadside, I'll have to. And yes, I'll have to cross over to calling him "he," because I see now he is doing his videos with a male avatar and has his RL male picture up on his personal blog then. Not sure if he appears at office hours now as female or what -- I see other Lindens are saying "he" now, too. It's sad...
I think it's safe to say that if you have to declare the adjective "Orwellian" as boring or passe, you probably suffer from some of those Orwellian tendencies yourself. I just re-read "Animal Farm" -- it was as fresh and relevant as the day it was first written -- amazingly so. The fake altruism. The labouring long hours. The posturing. The getting up on hind legs. It could have been called "Second Life" lol.
Torley has the ridicularity to call Philip K. Dick somehow a standard for adjectiving-formation and a gold standard for this discourse -- as if a figure like George Orwell could even be compared to a science fiction writer. Few science-fiction writers rise out of their genre to become world-class Literature -- Ray Bradbury is one. I don't think Philip K. Dick is one, even if he has printed more books than Orwell, who is a giant, of course -- I was just re-reading Wodehouse's 1954 essays, talking about "poets as legislators".
Torley, of course, is a walking exemplar of Newspeak. Bad is good. Hate for 15 minutes on this or that (evil landlords whom you AGGRESSIVELY must stop from seizing group liability!). "Mindjunk". I don't think I need to mount the arguments for most readers of this blog. Torley is what makes it possible to speak about the Orwellian features of SL since she actively practices them -- the cheery propaganda, the hatred of those other alien continents (people who don't get Windlight!)
Torley? Hatred? you say. Oh, but that's just it. That's what it's all about. Always seething underneath the Torley Newspeak and happy-cheery people eating noodle salads for the Motherland is pure hate. Pure venom. Aversion to anything that thinks differently, acts differently, refuses to submit to the Watermelon. It's quite a disturbing act, really, the whole Torley thing, and the increasing aggressiveness of it all makes me figure that the real Torley is in some kind of conflict or agitation that is being furiously sublimated in even more aggressive cheeriness. That's how it always feels to me with people like this -- they have neurolinguistically programmed themselves, yet underneath the operation, the stitches are becoming undone or the cancer is spreading again. There's something always very eerie about it. It's artificial -- but also menacing, don't you find?
It's true that the Internet gang is always violating Godwin's law by raising Hitler and Nazis, and there is never a shortage of cliques and claques around SL fuming about this or that imagined or even real slight from the Linden Entity. But Orwellian is really rather appropriate for some of the features of SL. "Newspeak" is the obvious one -- the jargonistic words and propagandizing of the New for the New's sake we always get around the JIRA and forums.