Having recently released Filters on Flickr -- where one of the main premises is that people can self-moderate their content -- I've found myself thinking more about the idea of government and authority.
It's been particularly interesting to me that some people expect to be told how this self-moderation should work. The paradox is that any system decreed by the "State" is inflexible, immediately not suitable for everyone, and so open to interpretation and argument. I'm very curious to see how actual self-moderation (as opposed to community policing) will play out, given that no rules of engagement have actually been laid out. Do people innately possess an understanding of the Common Good, or, the common safety? Or, for that matter, the common decency?
I've asked myself how to present this lack of Decree to people who need guidance, and it seems to me that the easiest way to do it is to present a number of scenarios, rather than hard, fast rules. To help filter content which may not be suitable for global public view, one could ask oneself: Would you show this photo to someone sitting next to you on a bus? If there is even the slightest hesitation, that indicates that the photo is probably not "safe". Etc.
Anyway, Jason (My Roomie Crusader) put me on to a fascinating short series of programs from the BBC called The Trap, about how government mixes with Game Theory mixes with psychiatry mixes with self-interest. Very interesting program, particularly given current thoughts about the power and efficacy of government.
Here's a the program, if you have an hour to spare:
And here's my unabashed transcript, with many quotes verbatim and sadly, poorly referenced. I lay no claim to any of this content or its thrust. And I'm certainly not saying that the Flickr Team is any sort of government, but that it's sometimes perceived as such.
Government as major balancing influence
in the search for utopia, USSR attempted to control everything
"the road to serfdom"
"golden age of the free market"
"self-directing, automatic system created by millons of people searching for their own goals"
based on selfishness
analyze signs of danger
new type of conflict
players are locked together
"incorporate your enemy into your own thinking"
strategic moves to create fear of self-interest
dark vision of human beings, driven constantly by self-interest
"one could create stability through suspicion"
John Nash (A Beautiful Mind)
F**k You Buddy
system driven by suspicion and self-interest does not have to lead to chaos
equilibrium - what *i* do is adjusted in relation to what *you're* doing
"seeking separate optimisation"
could have a society based on individual freedom - everyone needs to be suspicious and distrustful
"rational pursuit of self-interest will lead to a kind of an order in which all players agree on the strategies taht they're playing and that those strategies make sense to them"
"construct your opponent"
no secretaries played that game - they always decided to co-operate
Nash - paranoid schizophrenic
"red tie = communist spy"
undermine the idea of trust and love
"is it possible to be a human being anymore?"
50s mental hospital - frightening, no medical control. talking instead?
shifted focus to actual circumstances of "madness incubation"
roots of madness lay in family
chemicals don't work - sending back to private horror
doctors were "violent agents of oppression"
power and control within the world of normal families - game theory
Dr Morton Schatzman
game = people playng by rules, explicit or not
"what does 'the other' really intend"
stratgies to control and manipulate - weapons used selfishly to exert power
love = "i love you, but i'm adding an impossible condition"
"normal families" = walking into a crabon monoxide gas chamber
Laing - the struggle for power and control in family linked to power in The World
bleak, paranoid ideas
"The Politics of Experience"
no institution can be trusted
counter-culture movement - tearing down insitutions in the name of freedom
joined by group of columnists from the far right, inspired by Hayek & Rand
that public duty should underpin public life is a sham
insitutions for help become destructive
"I can't tell you that"
reality of life - millions of people contunulaly watching and strategising against each other
self-interest of Cold War, now adopted by economists as truth
"always trying to find ways to make believeable promises/threats" = strategy
public good = complete fantasy
shared goals? amongst suspicious individuals?
Public Choice Theory
no such concept as public interest - only ever driven by Self
no agreed version of the public good - strategy in own self-interest
claim to be helping others? chaos
pursuit of the public interest - actions are those of self-interest
"agents of control, not freedom"
"illusion that you can have fredom by government decree"
Laing attacks psychiatric establishment in USA
undermines elite, bears new system of control
madness? sanity? labels to lock away those searching for freedom
8 people, never "mad", sent across the country to a mental hospital. told they were hearing voices, the word "thud". told to behave completely normally
they were diagnosed insane, and admitted
7 as schizophrenics, 1 bipolar
the only way out was to agree that they were insane, then to show they werwe getting better
hospital annouces "we've found 41 fakes" - but no new fakes were sent
privileged elite with specialized knowledge
how to manage people's inner feelings in society? scientific system to diagnose Inner State ?
do these syndromes exist? doesn't matter. they *can* be recorded
disorders described by numbers. answers yes or no.
computers decide whether people are normal or abnormal. computational diagnosis
Dr Robert Spitzer
random sample of ordinary people
computers say: 50% of americans suffer from a mental disorder
Dr Jerome Wakefield
conclusion - "hidden epidemic"
checklist as liberation
National Anxiety Screening Day
"what you're experiencing is common"
consequences - millions of people use checklists as self-diagnosis
powerful model of "normal"
"I want to be made normal"
"You have this disease."
"I have an ideal. I want to fit."
created from attack on arrogance
new form of control
"correct and appropriate feelings"
different systems of order
use checklist to monitor feelings and self-police
liberated from arrogant elites
new way to control
large areas of the State should remain under Govt control
system of incentive, not public duty
Buchanan: politicians who preach the idea of public duty are the most dangerous, zealots
zealots not influenced by incentive
if success depends on "goodness", we're in trouble
reform of NHS
overthrow power of medical establishment
Thatcher turns to Alain Enthoven
Enthoven designed a system - nuclear weapon as rational incentive, bargaining table
Systems Analysis - can be applied to any type of human endeavour
Pentagon - remove the idea that patriotism should guide defense
patriotism replaced by mathematically measurable outcomes
disaster - Vietnam governed by numerical targets, performance metrics, measurable outputs
soldiers shot civilians to meet targets
how do you rewire incentive to create self-interest ?
"The Internal Market"
liberation from arrogant control - numeric targets, achievable without contraint
motivation - "own the target"
individual constantly calculating own advantage
back to Nash
no such thing as a wider political story
human as information processor
interests of welfare of the whole at heart thought to be naive
new era of freedom
shape defined by its victims
deeply rooted in paranoia
corruption, growing rigidity