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PostedCOLON Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:58 pm
by MattT
Mr Stasheff,

I think it was in The Warlock in Spite of Himself, but maybe it was Warlock Unlocked, where you talked about the growth of democracy and how the practice of citizen "squawking" and the record of each squawk was so important to the spread of democracy. While the internet is not quite the same as the squawking that you described, it does bear some resemblance. I'm just wondering if you look at some of the vitriol and garbage squawked on the internet and then look back on what you thought squawking would do and wonder, "What I was thinking that I thought that this was a great idea?" Not that the internet doesn't have some great stuff, but sometimes it seems like it pushes people more and more to extremes rather than fostering any greater interest in democracy or good government.


Re: Squawking

PostedCOLON Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:02 pm
by cstasheff
Gotta admit you have a point, Matt. Any human invention can, unfortunately, be used for a bad purpose. There are some posts from serious, thoughtful politicians and their followers, which gives hope. Similarly, I take a dim view of the Internet government channels -- I'm skeptical enough that officeholders will be prima donas like so many of us, more concerned with getting their pictures on the net than contributing to thoughtful, intelligent discussion -- but for that, there's always NPR.

Thanks for your contribution to the discussion.

Re: Squawking

PostedCOLON Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:28 pm
by ScreechingSnake
Re NPR: I'm glad Big Bird hasn't been mounted on any Fox News shareholder's wall yet :D. Ducked another bullet!

The rampant Mayan-calendar lunacy, and earlier the pre-election insanity from all sides, are certainly examples of the extreme silliness that show up on the net as well as the ongoing efforts of some to turn it into an instrument of oppression. On balance it feels like a good thing as a channel for squawking by the public. Mr. Stasheff goes into some detail about squawking channels during Saul's group's chat with the Spider King re the nature of bureaucracy (HOW has a guy with spies all over the multiverse missed hearing of Parkinson's Laws in some form?) in The Witch Doctor.

As an IT geek since the late 60's, during my "post-retirement" job (2005-11) at the tech support grunt level I found myself in a frequent state of terror re the sloppiness of today's major software packages, the effects on large corporate operations with the potential for chain reactions elsewhere in industry, government and the world in general - and the wondrous lack of concern about the squawking of IT professionals in the money-driven boardrooms of the planet. Now that I'm no longer actively involved in constant large-system firefighting, I'm a bit more relaxed about that stuff; and I do believe that the operators of the "internet backbone" networks that connect us all are significantly more careful about software roll-outs than most others, since the corporate consequences of any widespread long-term outage on their turf would be immediate and fatal.

I'm still a bit nervous about the sort of scenario painted by E.M. Forster in his Stone Age dystopia, The Machine Stops - but I'm more expectant that quality of computer services will gradually decline due to overload, dumb software and lack of the level of quality assurance we used to give mainframe base system software before allowing it near our customers.

This post already gone way too long and a bit aside, so I'll shut up now.
/The Screech

Re: Squawking

PostedCOLON Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:59 pm
by MattT
I'll have to reread Witch Doctor; it's been a while and I was a lot younger last time I read it. I don't remember Saul's discussion there.

I'm in IT, too, so I agree with much of your post, Screech.

Re: Squawking

PostedCOLON Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:09 pm
by Ortho the Frank
I remember that in Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card essentially predicted blogs. His predictions about human nature in the blogoshpere, however, were a bit idealistic. He predicted that everyone would listen to everything, and as the smarter bloggers emerged, blogs with the weaker arguments would cede superiority and drop away until there were only two bloggers arguing with each other (the Hegemon and his sister), and the world would listen to them debating.

Now that we actually HAVE blogs, of course, we now realize Card had it backwards - in the blogosphere, everyone is squawking and no one is listening.

Re: Squawking

PostedCOLON Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:43 pm
by MattT
Ortho the Frank wroteColonNow that we actually HAVE blogs, of course, we now realize Card had it backwards - in the blogosphere, everyone is squawking and no one is listening.

I think that one problem that has emerged is that with so many sources purporting to be news and with the mainstream news sources being so incorrect so often (or simply changing from news sources, to trying to generate click-revenue through sensational headlines) that there are no longer "information authorities." That would be good if it meant that people figured out the truth for themselves, but with one source saying X is true and another saying anti-X is true, people instead just pick the sources which reinforce their current beliefs. The internet has great potential for spreading information, but it spreads disinformation perhaps even better.

Re: Squawking

PostedCOLON Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:20 pm
by cstasheff
Didn't get into Parkinson's Laws too much -- the Spider King is presumably familiar with their effects, if not their wording. Come to think of it, he is probablythe one authority holding the Web together -- but now that you mention it, I really should have him send out spiders to kill worms and straighten out kinks in the strands. Should I maybe hint that the Web is vulneralble to Parkinson's Disease (which I am, for the last five years)? On the other hand, or presumably both, (Last time I checked, I still had ten fingers) I might want to have Father Vidicon in cahooits with the Spider King to chase down their universe's version of Parkinson and infect him with a counter-virus.
You've opened a Pandora's Box of usable ideas here -- thanks!

Re: Squawking

PostedCOLON Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:21 pm
by cstasheff
Recent idea arising from all your contributions -- Parkinson's Laws and Parkinson's Disease could both be the force behind the latest attempt of the bad buys to eliminate the clerical Establishment. The working title is TO THE RESCUE OF SAINT VIDICON, and the good priest will join forces with a rabbi and a minister. Only problem is, I may not be able to think up any NEW rabbi, minister, and priest jokes.
Hey! Maybe the Big Bad of the week could be named Parkin, so his hatchet man could be Parkin's son?
Whup! What was that snapping sound. Could it have been a mousetrap closing?