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Thread: NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things'

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    Mar 2010

    Default Re: NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things'

    Quote Originally Posted by jk View Post
    in sum, i don't see this work as a conspiracy to mechanize or control our minds. i don't see "the system" working in the directed manner which you describe. instead i see emergent phenomena, systemic phenomena produced by lower level components interacting. the "conspiracy", if you will, is unconscious and self-organizing, not externally directed. i think that's all i have to say on the topic. i was just curious to see where you were coming from intellectually. regretfully, to my eyes, you've twisted interesting matters into a conspiratorial fantasy. this is unfortunate because it prevents you from delighting in the complexity and beauty of emergent system phenomena.
    Here is a nice little video clip where Doug Snowden (no relation to this NSA leaker fella) discusses the concept of emergence, within a complex system, in terms of a child's birthday party. One takeaway to note is Doug's explanation of how emergence can be managed by:

    (1) establishing system "boundaries";
    (2) stimulating a pattern of activity via "attractors";
    (3) "beneficial" attractors are amplified and stablized;
    (4) "negative" attractors are dampend and/or destroyed quickly.

    What Bateson did, in part, is demonstrate how the concepts of cybernetic systems can be applied to the social, and he did this decades ago, long before the public were aware of a global information network that we now call the Internet. And in the above video, Snowden summarizes how one can architect and manage such a system so as to control it. Hence, it's not a very big reach to deduce how the Internet , and all the devices (sensors & feedback mechanisms connected to it) provides the system boundaries and the catalytic probes essential in establishing and managing a Complex System where the social (including human brains) are part of that system.

    Again, understanding Bateson, and quite frankly, all of the parties who participated in the 1940's - 50's Macy Conferences provide extraordinary insight into the long term trajectory of such a system, and further reveals the riidiculousness of current media stories and supposed revelation by some kid running from the authorities.

    FYI, in followup to my previous post, here's one chapter from a PhD dissertation - Chapter III, Gregory Bateson’s Cybernetic Framework - that provides an excellent overview of Bateson and how his work fits into the larger body of discussion that is relevant to the matters that I've been raising in my posts.

    Chapter III, Gregory Bateson’s Cybernetic Framework

    Here's one interesting clip from the paper...

    In the end, and following Kurt Gödel, Bateson admits contradiction as an inevitable
    condition of dealing “simultaneously with both objective communication and
    41—as in psychotherapy—whereas “all attempts to build a coherent
    body of statements at several levels of abstraction must always end in paradox and
    42 On the social level, he stresses the significance of subjective relativism,
    rather than some transcendental objectivity, to the entire phenomenon by pointing out
    that “the qualities and characteristics of metacommunication between persons will
    depend upon the qualities and degree of their mutual awareness of each other’s
    43 This is despite the fact that “the importance of the single individual
    diminishes, and at the higher levels one person becomes only a small element in the
    system of communication.”
    How interesting. Bateson understood that the global system of communication being postulated, and developed, would minimize the importantance of the individual as compared to this system. Further, he admits that such a society will live in a relativistic paradox, where awareness will govern communication, and communication drive awareness in a circular relationship. With a global information grid disinetermediating human to human communication, this level of perception can be managed, as described by Snowden in the above video.

    While I havent digested the entire dissertation, it certainly covers topics of relevance to today's world. Here's a link to the rest of the paper....

    Theorizing "Ecological Communication"
    Mathur, Piyush


    In this dissertation, I make a theoretical exploration into the mass communication of ecological issues, a phenomenon bound to become increasingly important through the on-going dual process of economic-cum-ecological globalization and information revolution. Such an exploration is warranted, first, because, despite the highly visible coexistence of global warming and the digital divide on the same world-stage, sociohumanistic research generally has continued to focus on ecology and (mass) communication in their mutual separation. Since interconnections of ecology and communication have received attention from only a limited number of media analysts and environmentally sensitive journalists, mass communication of ecological issues is as yet an under-examined theme.

    Secondly, the scarce research on the topic - though it has occasionally been done and shared under the generalized rubric of environmental or ecological communication (EC) - actually amounts to little more than disparate case studies and empirical reports related to risk and hazard communication, disaster communication, environmental journalism, or science journalism. In other words, mainstream research on communication of ecological matters falls short of a theoretical exploration into the probable interfaces between ecology and communication, pointing to the research community's overall complacency with uncoordinated and narrowly-framed case studies.

    Furthermore, the majority of existing EC accounts represent a positivistic, solution provider's ideology, even though they are invested in the progressive cause of environmentalism. They generally accept the media as a probative solution to ecologically suspect acts of the State or corporate sector, and are not particularly invested in the speculative realm of possible silences that may characterize the communicative landscapes of global ecologies.

    I contend that the issues neglected by EC researchers have already been delved into independently - even though to unrelated ends - by thinkers from other more mature discourses such as communication systems theory, development studies, philosophy and sociology of technology, political theory, and cultural and literary theories. Engaging with selected contributions from the above discourses, and drawing from the approaches of critical traditionalism on one hand, and semiotics, on the other, I attempt to go beyond EC's erstwhile media focus by theorizing EC critically. As part of that effort, I postulate and develop upon the following analytical and theoretical axes: (1) technology; (2) the nation-state; and (3) and development. I devote exclusive sections to two of the above components: against the general background of development.
    And here we have a fascinating and relevant clip from Fritjof Capra's 1990 film, Mindwalk (, based on the book The Turning Point by Fritjof Capra (The Tao of Physics), it's a 90-minute conversation between a scientist, a politician, and a poet, each having taken a step back from their profession to ponder the direction of their life.

    Mind Walk - Systems Theory (Cybernetics)

    Finally, I'll submit this relatively recent MIT Sloan Mgmt Review piece performed by Nathan Eagle, then a graduate student in Media Arts and a Media Lab Europe Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and more recently a member of the Santa Fe Institute.

    Can Serendipity Be Planned (smr).pdf
    Last edited by reggie; 06-29-13 at 08:03 PM.
    The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge ~D Boorstin

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