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J. P. Barlow — Internet Has Broken the Political System

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the citizenry-who-knew-too-much dept.

Government 773

MexiCali59 recommends an account up at Hillicon Valley on a speech by John Perry Barlow to the Personal Democracy Forum in New York. "The deluge of information available on the Web has made the country ungovernable, according to EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow. 'The political system is broken partly because of Internet,' Barlow said. 'It's made it impossible to govern anything the size of the nation-state. We're going back to the city-state. The nation-state is ungovernably information-rich.' ... Barlow said there is too much going on at every level in Washington, DC, for the government to effectively handle everything on its plate. Instead, he advocated citizens organizing around the issues most important to them. 'There is a circle of fat around the Beltway that is incredibly thick. We can no longer try to run this country from the center. We've got to run it, just like the Internet, from the edges.' Barlow also said that President Barack Obama's election, driven largely by small donations, has fundamentally changed American politics. He said a similar bottom-up structure is needed for governing as well. 'It's not the second coming, everything won't get better overnight, but that made it possible to see a future where it wasn't simply a matter of money to define who won these things. The government could finally start belonging to people eventually.'"

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Ring of fat around the beltway (4, Funny)

2names (531755) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460322)

I thought Newt Gingrich was gone?

Re:Ring of fat around the beltway (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460586)

I thought Newt Gingrich was gone?

Wait till next year. There's a rumor that he'll be making an announcement about an election in 2012. And if the economy still sucks, Obama is getting the blame and you know what that means - Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahah!

Better (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460690)

That's better than the skeleton they replaced him with. If she isn't walking dead, I don't know what it would be. Her face is so mangled from the countless plastic sugeries she has used tax dollars to get. She is practically just a bone skull on her shoulders. That's not even to mention her body which beats the Brit's super model, Twiggy, and that is a freightening thing. So, I'd rather have someone (slightly) overweight than someone who looks dead from not eating for years.
That's not even to mention eithers sanity, which the skeleton lacks.

I blame Al Gore for inventing the Internet! (0, Troll)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460348)

And for being the leading cause of vaginal dryness around the world!

Re:I blame Al Gore for inventing the Internet! (0, Flamebait)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460724)

You aren't the first woman to report that Al Gore makes her vag go dry.

Re:I blame Al Gore for inventing the Internet! (1, Funny)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460774)

might be the first man though.

Broken? More like fixed. (5, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460350)

The government of the United States was never supposed to be the top heavy behemoth it is today. At the time our nation was formed, the states of our federation were intended to be much more autonomous - for exactly the reasons outlined in the article.

Local issues and positions can't be handled fairly from a central authority. A country this big just can't be homogeneous enough for that to work.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (5, Insightful)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460448)

Exactly! Anybody with modpoints mod this shit up. That's exactly what Jefferson and his crew were all about! They had seen what it meant to rule an empire from a central seat, and they knew it wouldn't work.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460594)

Exactly! Anybody with modpoints mod this shit up. That's exactly what Jefferson and his crew were all about! They had seen what it meant to rule an empire from a central seat, and they knew it wouldn't work.

Exactly! This is the 10th Amendment exists. The Feds should only do what the Constitution says they can do. If we find that the Feds need to do more, amend the Constitution!

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (5, Interesting)

Boronx (228853) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460766)

That's what Jefferson and his crew were about, but they lost and the other guys won. If it wasn't clear then, it certainly was after Lincoln

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460460)

That's pretty much the concept which projects like Metagovernment [metagovernment.org] are building software around.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460508)

Yea, I find it interesting how someone finds the truth when it suit's their needs. For years, they attempted to get around the entire 10th amendment and the diversity of the nation and impose things by virtue of the power (miraculously found) in the federal government. Now that they don't like the monster that was created, it seems they advocate going back to the original set up because it suits their needs.

BTW, I have been arguing that this entire top down approach is what makes third parties in the US non-viable. The two major parties are so powerful because they surround people from the bottom up and they are comfortable with going that direction- even though that direction may not reflect the one taken on the national stage by the same people.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460524)

And what will you do when some of these localities start bringing back segregation, or other policies abhorrent to the nation as a whole? The federal government needs to be able to protect the rights of citizens across the country. That's how it got to be this way in the first place. Expecting people to uproot their lives and move to a different locality that respects them isn't a reasonable fix.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460592)

Protecting and enforcing the values upon which the nation was founded does not require massive micro management.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (1, Troll)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460786)

Protecting and enforcing the values upon which the nation was founded does not require massive micro management.

Like slavery...

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (4, Insightful)

fredjh (1602699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460838)

Don't idiots every get tired of blah-blahing that response over and over again?

No, wanting the federal government to act as outlined in the constitution does not mean we want slavery. Wanting the 10th amendment enforced does not mean we want slavery. Wanting local jurisdiction to have more control of their localities does not me we want slavery.

Do you guys ever get tired of spouting that bullshit?

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460830)

It does when you have a committed bunch of nutjobs finding micro-loopholes through which to stick their insanity.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460608)

And what will you do when some of these localities start bringing back segregation, or other policies abhorrent to the nation as a whole?

I will move to a state that better fits my needs and beliefs. Or just go down the street and spend my money elsewhere.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460684)

Even in the most free of markets, there are not always multiple companies providing equivalent services. Read up on the history of the South during segregation. There were entire towns without a restroom for colored people.

This is where libertarian policies that work in theory crash into the mountains of reality.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460628)

And what will you do when some of these localities start bringing back segregation, or other policies abhorrent to the nation as a whole? The federal government needs to be able to protect the rights of citizens across the country. That's how it got to be this way in the first place. Expecting people to uproot their lives and move to a different locality that respects them isn't a reasonable fix.

If you find that the federal government needs more power, amend the Constitution to grant those powers. Anything else violates the 10th Amendment.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (2, Informative)

JesseL (107722) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460634)

Obviously the Federal government still has a role to play; with things like national defense, diplomacy, regulating interstate commerce, and protecting the constitutional rights of citizens. That stuff is spelled out in the constitution.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (4, Insightful)

JDSalinger (911918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460530)

I mostly agree, but local positions can vary unnacceptably. People of all sorts of dogma take over areas and try to handle their local "issues". There needs to be accounting for local variation and their needs/desires, but overarching, fair rules need to be handed down through the monolith that we call government.

How do we make sure the monolith is moral and fair to all? We need smart people making decisions. We need as much transparency as possible. The internet helps with transparency, but the plethora of info creates a burdensomely low signal to noise ratio. There are too many charlatans and agenda-driven salesmen telling us what the news is. What is the solution? Having smart, well-informed people make the important, big decisions. How do we make that happen?

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (4, Insightful)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460664)

I mostly agree, but local positions can vary unnacceptably.

Uh, no. Unacceptably to you. Please stay out of other's ppl's way of life. What makes you think you know best for the rest of the US, and by extension, the world?

People of all sorts of dogma take over areas and try to handle their local "issues". There needs to be accounting for local variation and their needs/desires, but overarching, fair rules need to be handed down through the monolith that we call government.

That's an interesting opinion. Too bad it doesnt work without complete totalitarianism, even on a small scale.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460680)

What is the solution? Having smart, well-informed people make the important, big decisions. How do we make that happen?

I believe that's called an Aristocracy.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460754)

What is the solution? Having smart, well-informed people make the important, big decisions. How do we make that happen?

I believe that's called an Aristocracy.

Only if their position is heritable.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (2, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460848)

No, aristocracy is rule by a hereditary caste. The word you're looking for is "meritocracy".

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460718)

What is the solution? Having smart, well-informed people make the important, big decisions. How do we make that happen?

Do like Singapore and pay them enough that it attracts the best and the brightest and not the ones willing to take a lower day-job salary in exchange for power and corruption.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (2, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460788)

If local areas have ample latitude to govern, those who like such government can relocate there.

States can be different, and it is reasonable to expect people to move to an area whose government suits them.

There would be less friction if, for example, Mexifornia appreciated that Arizona is different, and they governed what BELONGS TO THEM as they wish.

The Mexicans can move to Mexifornia, proceed with Reconquista as they wish, while Arizona can proceed differently. They don't have to like each other,

"How do we make sure the monolith is moral and fair to all?"

Destroy the monolith and let States choose for THEMSELVES. The States don't belong to the people who don't inhabit them. The country is an alliance of States. "Moral and fair to all is an absurd idea because morality and fairness are subjective. If we want FUNCTIONAL fairness, MOBILITY is the solution.

Think the South is a redneck hellhole? Get the fuck out.
Think California is Mexifornia? Get the fuck out.
Tired of how New Jersey smells? Avoid the guidos and landfills by Getting the Fuck Out.

The best States will win the competition for the most desirable place to live, the locals everywhere will OWN their own government, and we can support a WEAKER Federal government less prone to delusions of Empire over us and the rest of the world.

ecause those constructs are subjective. Each state is a reasonable size for local government, and States can compete. Obviously, people will vote with their feet. I certainly would.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460834)

I mostly agree, but local positions can vary unnacceptably. People of all sorts of dogma take over areas and try to handle their local "issues". There needs to be accounting for local variation and their needs/desires, but overarching, fair rules need to be handed down through the monolith that we call government.

No, we don't want your accounting for local variations, thanks.

If you've got a problem with your local politics, you've got two options: vote or move.

If things get pushed down from diktat, we've got jackshit for options: there is no "my way or the highway" because it's the same 100 miles down the road due to the cancerous needs of buearacracy to expand their self-importance/scope of influence.

Smart people do not necessarily make moral or fair decisions. In fact, there's nothing morally distinctive between smart and stupid people (though in my experience, the smarter people I've known have been significantly more selfish, while so-called simpletons have been quite benevolent and thoughtful...)

Here's an idea: have "smart, well-informed people" making the big decisions is a good idea. But if that's the route you want to take, do it through education not through authoritarianism. "Do what I say, or else!" doesn't work with teenagers; it won't work with a great number of adults, either.

Having someone push your options down your throat from above is the cowardly approach of totalitarians. We (ie, most everyone if they'd sit down and think about it for half a second) don't want that in America. Call it "oversight" or whatever the hell you want, but what it boils down to is top-down control of everyday life. Intentions are often benevolent, but the ultimate result is usually otherwise.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (5, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460548)

Sounds exactly like "Small Government." It's not helping that this country is becoming more and more polar every day.

I had the opportunity to meet some Europeans while traveling and they asked me what I would fix, and I want to go back to states rights.

I explained it like this: Would you, in Sweden, approve of someone in Portugal being able to set laws that regulated what you did?

More or less we have extreme right and extreme left coming out and people starting to side with either of them. So instead of everyone being happy we end up with two parties that absolutely hate each other.

If hard core christian states in the south want to abolish abortion, have a 0 tolerance drug policy, etc. Let them. But there is no reason that they should be able to tell a Californian that they can't do that. Hell Colorado, Cali, and numerous other states are on the verge of all out legalizing marijuana, but it's the feds that are stepping in saying "Nope. Because we say so".

Every state has the right to set their own drinking age, but the feds are blackmailing them into making it 21. Even so, every state has its own liquor laws. Stores in SC close at 7 pm, with only beer available at gas stations after that. Illinois, no one cares. Indiana is closed on election day and Sundays.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (2, Insightful)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460588)

So you'd be okay if the south brought back slavery?

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (1, Troll)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460646)

Well, arguably the federal government has gradually been re-instituting slavery only this time around it is affecting all of us.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460736)

The problem is that states DO have the power to control what goes on in their borders, and invariably they try to use the US constitution (their interpretation of it) as a way to justify the laws they pass. If it doesn't pass constitutional muster it must not be OK in the state, right? Well if it doesn't pass muster it must not be OK in other states, either; we all have the same constitution to follow.

So, either you can argue that the US constitution has influence hugely exaggerated from it's intention, or you can let what goes on in a court in Vermont dictate what happens to people in New Mexico. Since people rarely get elected on the platform of "I have a new, radical idea about how the constitution works" I think the chances of this happening any time soon are slim.

Should it though? Probably.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460550)

Yes they can. We imposed our values on the South pretty damn well in the 1950's and 1960's. Or would you prefer we decided that actually giving black people equal rights was something up to the states to decide?

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (4, Insightful)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460626)

Indeed. I am a diehard libertarian and therefore opposed to the notions of large (or even medium) sized government. Needless to say, I am opposed to involuntary taxes.

Yet, when I move to a new town, I implicitly accept the taxing structure there, whether sales, property, utility, etc. These taxes support local services (fire, sewer, emergency response, police, etc.) and the argument that they "benefit all" is a strong one. At least those that disagree enough have the general freedom to leave. Local taxation, in effect, is voluntary, and grow out of initial community-driven consensus. Later arrivals either had to accept the tax structure, or find somewhere else to live. With enough choices, competition arises for the best governance model.

Further, small town government actually makes community participation and control possible: bad city councils get ousted fairly quickly, or people just plain leave.

The role of a federal government, representing the common interests of a federation of states is to provide scalability, efficiency, and consistency, of interactions these states require among themselves, and foreigners. It is not to be heavy handed against the citizens of those states. The police and military forces this federal government has it can direct, but ultimate control should rest with the member states. What are the feds going to do? Order Florida, Arizona, and New Mexico police to "invade" California to arrest a pot-smoking "terrorist"? When California police have a duty and obligation to defend their citizen?

Yes, this can degrade to a full-blown civil war between states. But, I suspect a federation of a modest number of states could do well to challenge any internally directed force against them from the federal government they created in the same way that the people of a small town can reasonably overthrow their city council, whether by ballot, or force.

The only way a federal government can subdue the individual states, therefore, is to pit them against one another. Historically, this has been done via re-distributive taxation: subsidizing federally "friendly" states with funds taxed from the "unfriendly" ones. But, if the federal government is funded voluntarily by the states, and not directly by individuals, it can be reigned in. The other downside of redistributive taxation at the state level is that it makes it harder for individuals to "vote with their feet" and move from one state to another: the "better" states will be taxed more to prop up the "worse" ones. This can't happen if support of the federation is voluntary. For an example of how this plays out study the history of provincial transfer payments in Canada.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (4, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460644)

It's like when I complain about federal income taxes and people reply with: "Taxes pay for your fire and police and schools."

Well, the funding for my local fire, police, and school district come from the local property taxes and sales taxes I pay. Both of which require a vote at a local election to increase. And I don't mind paying those taxes because at the local level I at least get the chance to vote on the issue. And usually I don't vote against reasonable increases, but at the same time when I see waste I can attend a local meeting and voice an opinion about it. (For instance, our local fire department is way over funded. There is no reason why the fire captains need a brand new $70k SUV every year while some of the breathing equipment "needs upgrading".)

But at the federal level I pay my taxes so the money can be used to bail out whatever group has their hand out this week? The other thing I can't get over is the belief that the government always has to get bigger at all levels and when we had all this great growth in the first half of the last decade, they expanded government at all levels spending everything they took in and more. Whatever happened to establishing an emergency fund for when lean times occur? I know tax revenues are down. Guess what our revenues are down and we had to buckle down and keep expenses down, and even float on reserve cash we had for a few months. If we have to do that as a private business, what makes government any different?

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (1)

fredjh (1602699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460740)

Excellent post, IMO... I hate arguing with the idiots that purposely conflate local and federal taxation and services.

yes and no (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460658)

the problem with the "destroy government" crowd is that we need strong regulations for something like the economy to work. since 1994 when the republicans took over congress, we have systematically taken away governmental regulatory powers over the economy and wall street. the result is the financial meltdown in 2008

so obviously, we need a strong central authority to monitor and control the economy to keep it healthy. the libertarian myth of unicorns and leprechauns and a marketplace which regulates itself is factually and historically false, just study the banking panics of the 1800s and why we had the great depression in the 1930s: this what you get with a marketplace that is not regulated. the natural state of the marketplace is manipulation of the market by its largest players (corporatism) and constant bubbles and pops (greed, then fear and panic: all you need is simple human psychology for that). the libertarian myth of a level headed marketplace of equals is mythmaking, not reality

that being said, there are plenty of areas of bloat where the government can and should be downsized. its just that i see no intelligence in the "destroy government" crowd, just a lot of people with an almost religious fanaticism to the idea of small government, ready to hack away at everything. we need intelligence on the issue: WHERE do we cut, because obviously we don't cut everything, especially with the need for the strong regulation of the economy

to deny that is to simply stand in complete denial of what 14 years of deregulation of the economy wrought in 2008

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460672)

Um, right, so just decentralize, make all the states more autonomous. Bullshit. You know why? I have two words for you:

Slavery.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460752)

The government of the United States was never supposed to be the top heavy behemoth it is today. At the time our nation was formed, the states of our federation were intended to be much more autonomous - for exactly the reasons outlined in the article.

The founders tried the setup where the central government had virtually no power at all (the Articles of Confederation). That central government was so powerless that it had no armed forces to speak of (it could politely ask the states for one), no power to tax (it could politely ask the states for cash), and not much of anything by way of administrative bureaucracy. This generally didn't work because the states regularly flouted the national government and didn't care about the strongly worded letter they might get in return.

After it became clear that the Articles of Confederation weren't working, they got together and drafted the Constitution. And precisely the arguments about strong-federal-government versus strong-states-and-localities created the beginnings of American political parties (the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists - later Democratic-Republicans). George Washington and John Adams had different views on this one than Thomas Jefferson. So no, it's not clear how "top-heavy" the US government was supposed to be, because no one ever really agreed on it.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (2, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460804)

Exactly! I realize J.P. Barlow probably has a traditional liberal take on things (hence his belief that Obama's election somehow "fundamentally changed American politics"), but the Internet has done nothing but shed a little more light on the political situation. IMO, it hasn't "broken" it in any way, shape or form!

Legislation that was once FAR too difficult for the average person to peruse is now available for download on various governmental web sites. (It's still far too wordy and obtuse, but making it easily available is a good start!)

The problems and struggles we're seeing today with "information overload at the top" are simply because the federal govt. is trying to claim FAR more power and control than it was ever designed to have! (And people, at the core of things, THIS is exactly what Ron Paul was referring to when he made a few negative comments about President Lincoln during his campaign .... It was NOT some sort of racist suggestion on his part. He correctly pointed out that State's rights lost out to Federal govt. rights under his presidency, and ever since, the idea of centralization of governmental power has increasingly taken hold in the USA.) I don't think many people would entirely blame Lincoln for the mess we're in today ... but he did start the proverbial snowball rolling down the hill.

I completely disagree with Barlow's assertion that Obama was able to win, thanks to "lots of small political contributions". He was able to win because #1, he became a media darling. The press was so excited to see history made with the first black president in the United States, they couldn't stop heaping praise on the man and giving him the spotlight. The man had his own friggin' LOGO, for crying out loud! That "looks sort of like the Pepsi swirl" thing of his was unprecedented in political campaigning -- and shows his campaign was treated much more like product placement than anything else.

Plenty of small political donations have been made to 3rd. party candidates who get immediately shut out of the running anyway... We're nowhere NEAR a point in this country where that sort of thing makes any real dent in ability to get elected. You've got to be on one of the "big two teams" first (Democrat or Republican), and you've got to make friends with the right, influential people who help guide you through the process.

Re:Broken? More like fixed. (1)

eples (239989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460844)

The government of the United States was never supposed to be the top heavy behemoth it is today.

I agree with that observation - but how would an increased focus on local government prevent the spread of misinformation, or stop large corporations from astroturfing?

Two decades ago the widespread complaint was that "people believe whatever they see on TV". Well, now we have that plus the Internet too.

Who knows, maybe with a couple of decades of practice debating local issues all of the modern political spin tactics will fall away on their own. So how do we - as stewards of the information age - help coax society down a better path technologically? We can't leave it in the hands of MSNBC and FOX News, they could just get local too (they have affiliates!)

Oh noes! (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460356)

There's too much information available to people! It makes them harder to govern! By golly, when people UNDERSTAND our Policies and can see ALL of our platform, it sure does make it hard to make them like us! When people can actually review what we've done without relying on the news centers, how do we keep up the lies? We're doing our best to keep them as uneducated as possible, by failing to properly support the school system, but they seem to be teaching themselves how politics work by discussing it with other people!

Oh the humanity! What ever will us political figures do if we can't keep the sheep acting like sheep!

Re:Oh noes! (3, Insightful)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460428)

Well you also have the issue that a lot of the political information on the internet is bogus.

If you took an internet poll vs a scientific poll, you'd probably find that in the internet poll people would be substantially more likely to believe that US astronauts never landed on the moon or that Barack Obama was born in Africa.

Re:Oh noes! (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460654)

A lot of the information in the media or straight-up said by politicians is bogus as well.

Re:Oh noes! (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460694)

There is of course one of the issues with it, but I prefer it that people be overly critical of things such as this. I'd rather put up with ridiculously false information (which I can choose to research myself) and believe what I want when its all available to me, as opposed to having a limitted and narrow scope of whats going on, controlled by them so that I see what they want me to see.

For example, Barrack winning a Nobel Prize. Before the internet, I would have probably accepted that he must have done something to improve the world situation. Because the News was all over it, so were the papers, but because he was still being hailed as the first Black President he was untouchable, no one was criticizing him. However, people not on the payroll of a news corporation are allowed to do their own investigative journalism to find whats really going on without bias. I learned that he hadn't really done anything, he didn't make any visits, hardly any talks with anyone. No deals, treaties, or otherwise were signed, so what did he do to win this prestigious award? So I went looking around. Turns out the Nobel Prizes are very politically charged. I didn't know that Mother Teresa and Ghandi, the two most humanitarian people in the public eye, didn't recieve any awards at all. And I guess this isn't anything new, but I wouldn't know it without the internet, right?

I guess thats kind of what I'm getting at. Sure, there are conspiracy theories galore out there, and I'm sure a ton of them are complete trash. But its better to be overly critical of the system than to accept it blindly.

This is not the 1950's.

Re:Oh noes! (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460796)

However in politics things are not as clear-cut as in science so the best thing we have is to rely on the common sense of the masses.

Re:Oh noes! (1)

i_b_don (1049110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460832)

... i'm sorry, but where is the political information NOT mostly bogus? Please.

TV news? There's only enough time for sound bites and political press statements. That's like getting your product information from advertising agencies because that's exactly what sound bite and press statements are. When's the last time you saw a TV news station actually do real fact finding or challenge the BS that has become main-steam in politics today?

Newspapers? Whenever I've actually read them they don't really seem that much more informative than the internet articles I read, plus I can look up more information on google in a flash to answer my mental questions regarding facts and statistics.

Radio? LOL

The internet is a sea of information and it is up to the user to swim (judge information based upon the source's trustworthiness) or stay in the kiddie pool in corporate piss, political spin piss, or just flat out "I can't handle differing opinions" piss.

I, for one, have no desire to go back to the kiddie pool. Power to the people!

d

Re:Oh noes! (5, Insightful)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460454)

The problem isn't too much information, it is too much disinformation. People, in general, are too quick to accept something they read as true, especially if it is repeated elsewhere. Repeating information (good, bad, and ugly) is what the Internet does best.

Re:Oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460726)

Repeating government/corporate press releases (good, bad, and ugly) is what old mass media does best...

There, now ready for publishing

Re:Oh noes! (3, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460768)

The problem isn't too much information, it is too much disinformation. People, in general, are too quick to accept something they read as true, especially if it is repeated elsewhere.

Why should I believe that?

Re:Oh noes! (1)

EL_mal0 (777947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460778)

I think you're right that disinformation is the problem, but the tendency to accept disinformation as truth is exacerbated by the shear amount of information that is out there. It is sometimes hard to sift through all the crap to find the truth.

Incidentally, this is one reason I am a little nervous about the pending death of print journalism. The big newspapers (papers of record, and all that) have built their reputations on providing well researched and clearly written reports of what is going on in the world. If and when these sorts of institutions go under, we will be left with a lots of outlets of varying quality, and it will be hard to tell who is getting the whole story. Throw in the fact that many, many online "news" sources just copy and/or link to other sources, and the whole thing becomes a mess.

And yes I recognize that there are a handful of online sources that do good reporting, but they are a) few and far between, and b) usually bereft of any semblance of balance.

Re:Oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460748)

There is too much information, but unfortunately not enough *knowledge*. People basically regress back to anarchy, trusting more what the neighbor said and some headline about some law instead of what the official law states.

As to there being too much for centralized gov't to deal with, well, duh! A perfect example is the BP oil spill. The oil spill is the fault of BP, and is suppose to be managed by the coast guard, FEMA and the natural resource bureau. But who the people want to deal with the spill? Obama. They bitch and whine "Why is Obama not doing anything about it?" "Why isn't Obama seen diving to the bottom of the Abyss and plugging the hole with his ass?" And there you go. The gov't is suppose to be distributed already and mostly is. But it is the voter that is demanding further centralization. They want Obama to do something - he's ONE man. Before Obama, they were blaming Bush for 9/11!!

So we are back to the Internet. Where people get their INFORMATION, while getting dumber. No one reads anything. They read summaries of summaries and one word headlines and *think* they know something.

Re:Oh noes! (1)

Calsar (1166209) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460828)

The founding fathers believed the average person was not qualified to make most political decisions. That's one of the reasons why we elect supposedly qualified people to represent us. I agree with that sentiment. Most political issues are complex and the ramifications are not immediately obvious. If everyone voted on each issue we’d have a mess. For instance, tariffs and protectionist measure seem like a good thing. You’re trying to protect American jobs. However, these types of polices hurt the economy. You can protect one group, but it’s to the determent of the whole.

I think what he means is... (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460360)

...politicians can no longer get away with the same bullshit they once did. Imagine if the Internet was around during Nixon's days, or World War II. Things would have been extremely different.

Politicians have always lied...the difference is that the common person can now find proof about it in a matter of seconds with a single Google search.

Re:I think what he means is... (5, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460396)

But they can also find the opposite. Just because it's on the internet doesn't make it factual.

Re:I think what he means is... (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460574)

Moreover, they can find "proof" of lies and bullshit that aren't.

I used to hate people who dismissed stuff as "conspiracy theory" out of hand but honestly, these days, with some of the total crack smoking going on in the blogosphere, I can't say I blame them anymore for employing a coping mechanism.

Re:I think what he means is... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460682)

Just because it's on the internet doesn't make it factual.

Wait, I'm reading that statement on the internet so it doesn't make it factual, but yet it may be factual but it's on the internet and.....

Landrew! Guide me! Landrew! Landrew!

Re:I think what he means is... (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460722)

I don't know that I buy that excuse anymore. The "internet doesn't make it factual", but it does allow for millions of fact checkers and people are quick to disprove articles on the web. We aren't as trusting as you make us out to be, in fact I think the web has made people less trusting and quicker to do fact checking. People may get the information faster on the web, but take it with a grain of salt; then they research to find out if it is true. Most people I know assume its false then look for proof. The internet is pretty self correcting, something may be spread falsely for a day or two, but as soon as it hits a large enough audience it is pretty quickly debunked if false.

Now half-truths and slants on a factual story, that is a problem with the web. People can spin facts in their favor, that actual takes intellect to discern.

Re:I think what he means is... (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460732)

True. In particular, somebody googling to confirm what they already believe will find what they want to find.

But I think the parent's point is that those interested in learning facts don't really have to work all that hard.

Internet or not, seekers of reality need the savvy to recognize bullshit and bias.

Re:I think what he means is... (3, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460514)

> the common person can now find proof ... with a single Google search.
True, true true.

If only the common person favored favored facts over beliefs.

Re:I think what he means is... (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460600)

Just because it is on Google (or Wikipedia, or anywhere else) does not mean it is a fact. THAT is the problem. Too many people repeat things they've heard or read as if they are facts, without ever researching validity.

Re:I think what he means is... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460660)

It is too fact. I saw it on the internet. It said everything on the internet is true- why would anyone you don't know who isn't attempting to get anything from you lie to you?

Now if you will excuse me, I have to help another Nigerian Prince relocate his fortune from the evil conquerors of his father's kingdom. It's seeming to be harder then you would think and the banks keep asking for more money to make it happen.

Re:I think what he means is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460840)

What we are experiencing here, or should be, is an opportunity for political system to progress right along with technology, and the freedom of information. Sadly, this runs contrary to what most politicians care about: money and power.

This is just one more example of how blatantly corrupt, and broken this US is in my opinion. Can anyone actually cite ant institution, public or private that isn't broken, corrupt, and progressing in an equally all-parties involved positive way?

So. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460368)

I can generate barely-comprehensible political rants too:

porfnig ab kernck

Re:So. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460394)

porfnig ab kernck

No glot! Clom Fliday!

Re:So. (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460462)

Which is still better than what you get on Fox.

Re:So. (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460568)

Speaking in tongues?

Re:So. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460440)

Indeed. The whole notion is moronic, because while indeed there is far more information out there, or rather, much faster access to information, there are also much better tools for determining useful, valid and applicable information than there ever was before. Imagine how hard it must have been a hundred years ago, when every major capital in the world was stuffed full of archives, in some places like London and the Vatican going back many centuries. No matter how good the system of organization, getting information could be daunting and time-consuming. One of the major pushes towards the information age was to find faster ways to catalog, sort and search data stores. I can imagine some Victorian archivist working for the British Parliament in 1850 salivating if he saw technologies like search engines, wikis and OCR.

Re:So. (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460630)

At least the ancient archives didn't have seven adverts for off-label viagra stuffed in for every meritorious page, making them impossible to actually sort through.

I knew someone once who ran a home business getting people "indexed" in search pages.

Basically it amounted to polluting the search space.

I tried to like them anyway.

Organizing (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460412)

he advocated citizens organizing around the issues most important to them

How is that different from what is happening now?

Our elected officials typically understand very little of what they legislate, and often little of the bills they themselves propose. "The shoulder thing that goes up", "tubes", the Patriot act, net neutrality, the bailout. In practice citizens ogranize themselves into some type of lobbying effort to spoon feed their wants and needs to politicians.

Sometimes that organization is in the form of a corporation. Sometimes it is a PAC. Sometimes it is a group of individuals showing up at a rally. But private citizens are driving it.

Re:Organizing (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460798)

He forgot his political disclaimer. I'll, add it for him.

This message is brought to you and paid for by "Dewy, Cheatem, and Howe"- a conglomeration of multinational corporations to big to fail, funding political events and select government since 1902.

Is a donation of $1000+ small? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460430)

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/04/23/obama-still-lying-shamelessly-about-how-important-small-donors-were-to-his-campaign/

"In the general election, Obama got about 34 percent of his individual donations from small donors, people who gave $200 or less, according to a report from the Campaign Finance Institute. Another 23 percent of donations came from people who gave between $201 and $999, and another 42 percent from people who gave $1,000 or more."

Re:Is a donation of $1000+ small? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460504)

Compared to the sort of donations corporations give, yes. $1000 is small.

Re:Is a donation of $1000+ small? (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460716)

Even assuming the figures there are correct, that's still a huge amount of small donors.

Naturally, if there are some that give $1000+, it doesn't take many of them to outweigh a lot of small donors.

Ask any politician how they would feel about losing 1/3rd of their campaign cash -- the real question here is whether they know what side their bread is buttered on.

I rated this article +funny (4, Funny)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460450)

The nation-state is ungovernably information-rich.

Your right, we should tax the information-rich individuals and make them give some of their information away...they do not deserve that much information! (Greedy bastards)

there is too much going on at every level in Washington, D.C., for the government to effectively handle everything on its plate.

Oh he is soooo right! I mean, the government was working perfectly before the internet. Wow, glad I've been shown the light!

The former Grateful Dead songwriter said those disppointed in Obama are disregarding the extent to which the political system is broken.

Well that's OK, because Obama said he was going to help fix it! :)

"There is a circle of fat around the Beltway that is incredibly thick" Barlow said. "We can no longer try to run this country from the center. We've got to run it, just like the Internet, from the edges."

Wow, that is an even better analogy than the internet being a "series of tubes"!

I lost some brain cells beating my head against the desk after reading this "quality" piece, but I do not blame the author as much as I do the speaker. In my opinion, perhaps Washington should stop "clogging the internet tubes" as they would put it...

Like the internet? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460458)

We've got to run it, just like the Internet, from the edges.

1. Go play any FPS game on the internet that has dedicated servers
2. Observe how admins treat the players
3. Realize that the level of corruption in our current government probably mirrors admin abuse
4. Plan local government like this?

It was the telegraph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460468)

Nope. It was the telegraph! Finally we could discover the truth about those crooked politicians in real time!

...to which I say... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460474)

Cool!

Govern == Hegamony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460484)

Usually when people say "the internet has made it impossible to govern" what they really mean is "the internet has made it impossible to implement hegamony".

Does technology really change anything? (1)

TastyCakes (917232) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460510)

Now I didn't do anything as dramatic as RTFA. However, how has the internet changed anything to do with how government should operate? Some things are, and have always been, the jurisdiction of local governments. And other things are, and always will be, the jurisdiction of the federal government. National defense, intrastate transportation, inter and intra national trade regulations, all things that are just as much the job of the Federal government today as they ever were. Are there overlaps and gray areas and give and take? Absolutely, and each level of government's responsibilities shift with time, technology and politics. But how has more information changed the basic breakdown? The Federal government handles the "big picture" and State and local governments handle whatever's left out of that (hazy) definition. I don't see why twitter or facebook or even data.gov are going to change that.

More credible: governing by polls (1, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460520)

President Barack Obama's election, driven largely by small donations, has fundamentally changed American politics.

As long as he doesn't start governing according to what the polls want, he will be one of the most credible Presidents we've ever had because of his funding.

The Beltway has lost touch with the rest of the country. They have their own aristocracy of power and their goal is to stay in their cushy overpaid jobs and retire very rich. The internet will break up that political aristocracy and make them more accountable to the people.

"We can no longer try to run this country from the center. We've got to run it, just like the Internet, from the edges."

Up to a point. Exception - Arizona's new immigration law that gives way too much power to local police and tramples our Fourth Amendment rights - what's this BS about "proving" I'm a citizen and "proving" that I'm innocent? You're brown? Gotta be an illegal! Off to jail!

"Google’s capacity to control human thought makes the Catholic church jealous, I bet," Barlow said. "They wish they’d thought of it."

Huh? That makes no sense. Google controls human thought as much as the Encyclopedia Britannica did when I was a kid.

Re:More credible: governing by polls (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460648)

How much of reality is governed by the first few search results on Google? You are ignoring the emphasis people place on trusting anything that appears on more than one web site, and Google makes it easier than ever to find exactly what you are looking for (truthful or not). Google could have us (meaning a majority of internet goers) believing that the Russians went to the moon and sold the pictures to the US in exchange for letting Cuba have missiles; all they need is to inflate the rank of a few particularly ridiculous web sites and every google for "moon landing hoax" will end in the reader believing whatever the summaries tell them.

When you were a kid, did you flip through the Encyclopedia thinking "hmm I bet that's not true"? Well you should have, print encyclopedias are rife with error but any librarian will tell you "if it's in there it's good enough to be true". Who's a kid to believe?

the historical trend is the opposite (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460522)

as communications improve it's easier to govern a nation. The Romans built roads and were able to govern the largest empire at the time. in the US as communications improved people have looked to washington DC more and more for everything. the critical point was television. only the president could get on it so everyone assumed the president did everything. no one cares about their senator/governor/mayor anymore. the president does everything.

the problem is that it's not true and there are laws in place to prevent it and people don't understand why the president and the federal government can't do everything. yet blame everything on it

NONSENSE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460532)

What broke the political system was allowing money to be the deciding factor. He with the most cash, usually wins. You won't see any news organizations report that aspect of the story, because they count on that multi-billion dollar infusion every campaign season.

Now that the activist right wingers on the supreme court have opened it up for unlimited corporate money, it's only going to get worse.

election != fund-raising (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460546)

Barlow also said that President Barack Obama's election, driven largely by small donations

Obama's election wasn't driven by "small donations". It was driven by the fact that the country was sick of GWB and the GOP. Any Democrat not named Jane Fonda would have won in 2008. Obama's fund-raising achievements were very impressive but I wouldn't credit them with securing his victory.

Timing is everything in politics. If John McCain had beaten Bush in 2000 he would have gone on to be President (and the last eight years would have been very different, but that's another discussion). If Obama had run in 2004 he would have gotten creamed.

Re:election != fund-raising (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460670)

Concerning the general election, you're correct. However, Obama did have to overcome a quite significant deficit to defeat Hillary, helped in no small part by the significant fund raising that he achieved.

Re:election != fund-raising (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460770)

Obama didn't beat Hillary. Hillary beat Hillary. She and her advisers arrogantly amused that the primary process was a coronation and had no plan for the long haul. After they realized they were in for a fight they started making it up as they went along -- but by then they had too much of a delegate hole to dig out of.

Re:election != fund-raising (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460744)

It was driven by the fact that the country was sick of GWB and the GOP.

Obama didn't win by a landslide. In my area, Bush and the Republicans are the only ones who are considered able to protect this country.

Re:election != fund-raising (2, Insightful)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460792)

Obama's election wasn't driven by "small donations". It was driven by the fact that the country was sick of GWB and the GOP.

He had to get passed Hillary first, no easy task. If it wasn't for the small donations he wouldn't have gotten to run against the GOP fueled by anti GWB angst.

The Hill is incomprehensible, not Barlow (2, Interesting)

Protoslo (752870) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460556)

This quote seems like a much more cogent encapsulation:

To summarize, the Internet is the solution. The internet is the problem. We're connected, but not engaged. We're "networked" but not mobilized. We're Friends and Followers, but not active and acting.

We've come so far, we have so far to go.

The internet has allowed people to become much more informed than they once were, but it also lends itself to pointless bloviating on /. that ultimately accomplishes no political change. Like this.

The speaker is moronic (2, Insightful)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460572)

Here is another of his quotes from TFA:

"Google’s capacity to control human thought makes the Catholic church jealous, I bet," Barlow said. "They wish they’d thought of it."

I'm scratching my head trying to figure out how exactly Google is controlling my thoughts. Sure, I use google, and gmail, and I have a Droid... how does that equate to controlling my thoughts? Maybe they have unique access to my thoughts, as written down, but that is a far different thing than control.

File this one under Rant/Drug Induced/EFF Nonsense

Re:The speaker is moronic (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460814)

I use google, and gmail, and I have a Droid... how does that equate to controlling my thoughts

That proves it! They control your thoughts to the point that you can't even see how! ;)

Re:The speaker is moronic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460850)

He meant that Google decides what results you get from their search engine, therefore they can decide what you see on the Internet, and that naturally has an influence on your world-view.

Better later than never (1)

vajorie (1307049) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460578)

There is a circle of fat around the Beltway that is incredibly thick /blockquote? In everyday language, we call it "white people".

wtfamireading.jpg (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460610)

Is it me or does this summary make no fucking sense whatsoever?

That's the problem! (3, Interesting)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460652)

The problem is that we ever tried to manage the country centrally in the first place.

Any network or systems administrator will tell you that managing a diverse set of systems centrally is difficult. The only way you can pragmatically do that is with uniform conformity through diktat.

Unless you want to verge into absolute dictatorship, managing many smaller systems centrally is difficult if not possible, leading to a lot of loose ends and bad ideas. The founding fathers realized this, which is part of the reason they went for "limited powers" in the Federal government. There's only so much that a single person or body of people can multitask.

Unfortunately, we've forgotten this reality many times in the past 200 years, leading to an excess of government. "Big government" has to be small out of necessity of self-preservation, or scope creep will grow it to a colossal, unsupportable size.

Think of government as a compute cluster, or cluster of clusters, if you will. If you send jobs off to a cluster, which then sends jobs off to a node, you're trying to balance the overall computation amongst all available systems so no one node/processor doesn't get overtly taxed. This is the opposite of a "we're here to help" federal government: all jobs go up to the process scheduler/dispatcher, and get stuck there, while the lower levels of government (state, county, local) largely ignore what are ultimately their own affairs (poverty, crime, unemployment, civil projects, etc.) because the Federal government "is here to help".

This is why community gardens often thrive, while government food subsidy/distributions are usually failures (in terms of results as well as costs). Local problems need to be dealt with locally.

In other words... (3, Insightful)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460676)

The real power of democracy is overthrowing the veil of pretend democracy, which advocates ignorance to a sub-par governance system.

Democratizing Effects of Information Dessemination (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32460720)

Sounds like he's complaining that the Internet has made the central government more democratic. This doesn't require that we govern more at the local level (although we could). It just means the old regime that could control the central higher-level government won't function efficiently because the masses are now capable of being more involved.

The Internet has increased the democratic nature of government. This doesn't necessarily make the job harder, just different. The large central government now must function more like the smaller local governments for which he is advocating. Makes his "solution" seem unnecessary.

Somethings wrong... (4, Insightful)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 4 years ago | (#32460806)

The deluge of information available on the Web has made the country ungovernable...

Corporate greed and the ease for them to "purchase" government officials, the total lack of oversight in spending and operation, ignoring the will of the people and doing whatever the f*ck the governments wants, the constant blaming the "other" party for any problems, trying to fix things and sway the people with marketing instead of any actual actions, the corruption (Sure BP is at fault for the oil spill, but wasn't our government supposed to make sure they were in compliance? Oh that's right, it's just cheaper to buy them off with hookers and cash. Gotta keep the share holders happy.), becoming so large that it's just utterly inefficient to run has made the country ungovernable...

There, fixed that for you.

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