‘For it is necessary that there be a genuine and deep communication between the hearts and minds of men, communication and no the noise of slogans or the repetition of cliches. Genuine communication is becoming more and more difficult, and when speech is in danger of perishing or being perverted in the amplified noise of beasts, it seems to me we should attempt to cry and out to one another and comfort one another with the truth of humanism and reason.’
-Thomas Merton, Seeds of Destruction, 1961
‘When the artificiality of a random number algorithm replaces the surprises of natural richness, we lose something of human life. When we replace the earth with an artificial screen we cut ourselves off to its secret workings. We become so vulnerable in the face of the void that we have to keep filling up our lives with more stuff, including information.
Technology pushes us along as such rapid speeds that the human brain cannot absorb the information sufficiently to process. […] We are increasingly overwhelmed and fragmented…the speed of the machine has now surpassed the speed of thought. The result is ‘great psychic turbulence, opening fractures and fault lines in the collective unconscious.’ For protection, the human nervous system ‘numbs out’ to protect itself from this destructive energy.
Computer technology depends on individual control, preempting relationships of dependency on one another and the earth. […] Artificial intelligence can lend itself to community without commitment and mutuality without responsibility. It can lead to narcissism, self-indulgence, and isolation if it is not used reflectively to further wholeness and unity.’
‘In a culture as throughly marinated in instant gratification and consumer fetishes as ours, one so deeply in bed with consumer capitalism and instructed daily in how best to worship the gods of the latest gadgets that promise to make life easier and quicker and more satisfying. The experience of the dark night is a deep wake up call.
Whether it comes at us from climate change or coronavirus or failures of politicians or the destruction of ideals of democracy or failures of religious promises. There is plenty to grieve. Loss is in the air as the dark night knocks loudly on the doors of our souls. Julian of Norwich and Mechtild…John of the Cross…did not run from it but to learn what it had to teach. It can do the same for us.’
-Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic and Beyond, 2020
‘Global consciousness.’ ?
‘Politically Neutral.’ ?
[Twitter descriptions by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and new Twitter owner Elon Musk.]
Facebook [deleted 12.31.19-dayle] top-performing link posts in one 24-hour period:
The Daily Caller
Terence K Williams
Casey Newton, founder and editor of Platformer, a publication about the intersection of tech of democracy:
‘Elon Musk has not acted like a white knight riding to the rescue of a beloved but underperforming cultural institution. Instead, he has rushed to publicly affirm various half-baked and bad-faith criticisms of the company, all emanating from the right…’
‘What happens in a space with no public safety and no moderation? We deserve better than billionaire-owned social media platforms.’
‘The Internet business model is arson.’ -Jon Stewart
With the possible exception of hockey games, there have been few places in our modern lives where public interactions are supposed to be coarse. If (back when we could, and soon when we can again) you go to the theater, a museum, the mall, a restaurant, the library, school, the supermarket, the park, or yes, even to a movie theater, the management does not tolerate or encourage acting like a jerk.
And then social media arrived.
Social media is a place where the business model depends on some percentage of the crowd acting in unpleasant ways. It draws a crowd. And crowds generate profit.
We’ve created a new default, a default where it’s somehow defensible to be a selfish, short-sighted, anonymous troll. At scale.
Civility has always been enforced by culture, and for the last hundred years, amplified by commerce. We shouldn’t accept anything less than kindness, even if the stock price is at stake. Algorithms. Once you start prioritizing some voices, you become responsible for the tone and noise and disconnection (or possibility, connection and peace of mind) you’ve caused.
The word noosphere means a sphere of the mind, from the Greek nous or mind. It is a provocative idea that influenced many cultural leaders, such as Al Gore.
The idea is that the Earth is not only becoming covered by myriads of grains of thought, but becoming enclosed in a single thinking envelope so as to form a single vast grain of thought on the sidereal scale, the plurality of individual reflections grouping themselves together and reinforcing one another in the act of a single unanimous reflection.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, 1959
For trivial matters, it’s efficient and perhaps useful to simply follow a crowd or whatever leader we’ve chosen.
But when it matters, we need to make (and own) our own decisions.
To do that effectively, consider:
Do the reading
Show your work
Avoid voices with a long track record of being wrong
Ask, “and then what happens?”
Ask, “how would that work?”
Ignore people who make a living saying stupid things to attract attention
Follow a path you’re eager and happy to take responsibility for
Be prepared to change your mind when new data arrives
Think hard about who profits and why they want you to believe something
Consider the long-term impact of short-term thinking
None of these steps are easy. This could be why we so often outsource them to someone else.
UnitedStates and 60 Global Partners Launch Declaration for the Future of theInternet
A Declaration for the Future of the Internet
We are united by a belief in the potential of digital technologies to promote con- nectivity, democracy, peace, the rule of law, sustainable development, and the en-
joyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. As we increasingly work, com- municate, connect, engage, learn, and enjoy leisure time using digital technologies, our reliance on an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet will continue to
grow. Yet we are also aware of the risks inherent in that reliance and the challenges we face.
We call for a new Declaration for the Future of the Internet that includes all partners who actively support a future for the Internet that is an open, free, global, interoperable, reli- able, and secure. We further affirm our commitment to protecting and respecting human rights online and across the digital ecosystem. Partners in this Declaration intend to work toward an environment that reinforces our democratic systems and promotes active par- ticipation of every citizen in democratic processes, secures and protects individuals’ priva- cy, maintains secure and reliable connectivity, resists efforts to splinter the global Internet, and promotes a free and competitive global economy. Partners in this Declaration invite other partners who share this vision to join us in working together, with civil society and other stakeholders, to affirm guiding principles for our role in the future of the global In- ternet.
Reclaiming the Promise of the Internet
The immense promise that accompanied the development of the Internet stemmed from its design: it is an open “network of networks”, a single interconnected communications system for all of humanity. The stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems have, from the beginning, been governed by a multistakeholder approach to avoid Internet fragmentation, which continues to be an essential part of our vi- sion. For business, entrepreneurs, and the innovation ecosystem as a whole, interconnection promises better access to customers and fairer competition; for artists and creators, new audiences; for everyone, unfettered access to knowledge. With the creation of the Internet came a swell in innovation, vibrant communication, increased cross-border data flows, and market growth—as well as the invention of new digital products and services that now permeate every aspect of our daily lives.
Over the last two decades, however, we have witnessed serious challenges to this vision emerge. Access to the open Internet is limited by some authoritarian governments and online platforms and digital tools are increasingly used to repress freedom of expression and deny other human rights and fundamental freedoms. State-sponsored or condoned malicious behavior is on the rise, including the spread of disinformation and cybercrimes such as ransomware, affecting the security and the resilience of critical infrastructure while holding at risk vital public and private assets. At the same time, countries have erected firewalls and taken other technical measures, such as Internet shutdowns, to restrict access to journalism, information, and services, in ways that are contrary to international human rights commitments and obligations. Concerted or independent actions of some governments and private actors have sought to abuse the openness of Inter- net governance and related processes to advance a closed vision. Moreover, the once decentralized Internet economy has become highly concentrated and many people have legitimate concerns about their privacy and the quantity and security of personal data collected and stored online. Online platforms have enabled an increase in the spread of illegal or harmful content that can threaten the safety of individuals and contribute to radicalization and violence. Disinformation and foreign malign activity is used to sow division and conflict between individuals or groups in society, undermining respect for and protection of human rights and demo- cratic institutions.
We believe we should meet these challenges by working towards a shared vision for the future of the Inter- net that recommits governments and relevant authorities to defending human rights and fostering equitable economic prosperity. We intend to ensure that the use of digital technologies reinforces, not weakens, de- mocracy and respect for human rights; offers opportunities for innovation in the digital ecosystem, including businesses large and small; and, maintains connections between our societies. We intend to work together to protect and fortify the multistakeholder system of Internet governance and to maintain a high level of securi- ty, privacy protection, stability and resilience of the technical infrastructure of the Internet.
We affirm our commitment to promote and sustain an Internet that: is an open, free, global, interoperable, re- liable, and secure and to ensure that the Internet reinforces democratic principles and human rights and fun- damental freedoms; offers opportunities for collaborative research and commerce; is developed, governed, and deployed in an inclusive way so that unserved and underserved communities, particularly those coming online for the first time, can navigate it safely and with personal data privacy and protections in place; and is governed by multistakeholder processes. In short, an Internet that can deliver on the promise of connecting humankind and helping societies and democracies to thrive.
The Internet should operate as a single, decentralized network of networks – with global reach and gov- erned through the multistakeholder approach, whereby governments and relevant authorities partner with academics, civil society, the private sector, technical community and others. Digital technologies reliant on the Internet, will yield the greatest dividends when they operate as an open, free, global, interoperable, re- liable, and secure systems. Digital technologies should be produced, used, and governed in ways that enable trustworthy, free, and fair commerce; avoid unfair discrimination between, and ensure effective choice for, individual users; foster fair competition and encourage innovation; promote and protect human rights; and, foster societies where:
Human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the well-being of all individuals are protected and promoted; All can connect to the Internet, no matter where they are located, including through increased access, affordability, and digital skills; Individuals and businesses can trust the safety and the confidentiality of the digital technologies they use
and that their privacy is protected;
Businesses of all sizes can innovate, compete, and thrive on their merits in a fair and competitive ecosys- tem; Infrastructure is designed to be secure, interoperable, reliable, and sustainable; Technology is used to promote pluralism and freedom of expression, sustainability, inclusive economic growth, and the fight against global climate change.
Principles to promote this Vision
The partners in this Declaration intend to uphold a range of key principles, set out below, regarding the In- ternet and digital technologies; to promote these principles within existing multilateral and multistakeholder fora; to translate these principles into concrete policies and actions; and, work together to promote this vi- sion globally, while respecting each other’s regulatory autonomy within our own jurisdictions and in accor- dance with our respective domestic laws and international legal obligations. These principles are not legally binding but should rather be used as a reference for public policy makers, as well as citizens, businesses, and civil society organizations.
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms Dedicate ourselves, in conducting and executing our respective domestic authorities, to respect human rights, including as reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the principles of the rule of law, legitimate purpose, non-arbitrariness, effective oversight, and transparency, both online and offline, and call upon others to do the same. Promote online safety and continue to strengthen our work to combat violence online, including sexual and gender-based violence as well as child sexual exploitation, to make the Internet a safe and secure place for everyone, particularly women, children, and young people. Promote safe and equitable use of the Internet for everyone, without discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnic, national or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of an indigenous population, property, birth, disability, age, gender identity or sex- ual orientation. Reaffirm our commitment that actions taken by governments, authorities, and digital services including online platforms to reduce illegal and harmful content and activities online be consistent with inter- national human rights law, including the right to freedom of expression while encouraging diversity of opinion, and pluralism without fear of censorship, harassment, or intimidation. Protect and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms across the digital ecosystem, while provid- ing access to meaningful remedies for human rights violations and abuses, consistent with international human rights law. Refrain from misusing or abusing the Internet or algorithmic tools or techniques for unlawful surveillance, oppression, and repression that do not align with international human rights principles, including devel- oping social score cards or other mechanisms of domestic social control or pre-crime detention and arrest.
A Global Internet Refrain from government-imposed internet shutdowns or degrading domestic Internet access, either en- tirely or partially. Refrain from blocking or degrading access to lawful content, services, and applications on the Internet, consistent with principles of Net Neutrality subject to applicable law, including international human rights law. Promote our work to realize the benefits of data free flows with trust based on our shared values as like-minded, democratic, open and outward looking partners. Promote cooperation in research and innovation and standard setting, encourage information sharing re- garding security threats through relevant international fora, and reaffirm our commitment to the frame- work of responsible state behavior in cyberspace.
Inclusive and Affordable Access to the Internet Promote affordable, inclusive, and reliable access to the Internet for individuals and businesses where they need it and support efforts to close digital divides around the world to ensure all people of the world are able to benefit from the digital transformation. Support digital literacy, skills acquisition, and development so that individuals can overcome the digital di- vide, participate in the Internet safely, and realize the economic and social potential of the digital economy. Foster greater exposure to diverse cultural and multilingual content, information, and news online. Ex- posure to diverse content online should contribute to pluralistic public discourse, foster greater social and digital inclusion within society, bolster resilience to disinformation and misinformation, and in- crease participation in democratic processes.
Trust in the Digital Ecosystem Work together to combat cybercrime, including cyber-enabled crime, and deter malicious cyber activity. Ensure that government and relevant authorities’ access to personal data is based in law and conducted in accordance with international human rights law. Protect individuals’ privacy, their personal data, the confidentiality of electronic communications and in- formation on end-users’ electronic devices, consistent with the protection of public safety and applicable domestic and international law. Promote the protection of consumers, in particular vulnerable consumers, from online scams and other unfair practices online and from dangerous and unsafe products sold online. Promote and use trustworthy network infrastructure and services suppliers, relying on risk-based assess- ments that include technical and non-technical factors for network security. Refrain from using the Internet to undermine the electoral infrastructure, elections and political pro-
cesses, including through covert information manipulation campaigns.
Support a rules-based global digital economy which fosters trade and contestable and fair online markets so that firms and entrepreneurs can compete on their merits. Cooperate to maximize the enabling effects of technology for combatting climate change and protecting the environment whilst reducing as much as possible the environmental footprint of the Internet and digital technologies.
Multistakeholder Internet Governance Protect and strengthen the multistakeholder system of Internet governance, including the development, deployment, and management of its main technical protocols and other related standards and protocols. Refrain from undermining the technical infrastructure essential to the general availability and integrity of the Internet.
We believe that the principles for the future of the Internet are universal in nature and as such we invite those who share this vision to affirm these principles and join us in the im- plementation of this vision. This Declaration takes into account, and expects to contribute to, existing processes in the UN system, G7, G20, the Organisation for Economic Cooper- ation and Development, the World Trade Organization, and other relevant multilateral and multistakeholder fora, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Internet Governance Forum, and Freedom Online Coalition. We also welcome partner- ship with the many civil society organizations essential to promoting an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet, and defending fundamental freedoms and human rights online. Partners in this Declaration intend to consult and work closely with stakeholders in carrying forward this vision.
The Internet has been revolutionary. It provides unprecedented opportunities for people around the world to connect and to express themselves, and continues to transform the global economy, enabling economic opportunities for billions of people. Yet it has also created serious policy challenges. Globally, we are witnessing a trend of rising digital authoritarianism where some states act to repress freedom of expression, censor independent news sites, interfere with elections, promote disinformation, and deny their citizens other human rights. At the same time, millions of people still face barriers to access and cybersecurity risks and threats undermine the trust and reliability of networks.
Democratic governments and other partners are rising to the challenge. Today, the United States with 60 partners from around the globe launched the Declaration for the Future of the Internet. Those endorsing the Declaration include Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, the European Commission, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Palau, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Uruguay.
This Declaration represents a political commitment among Declaration partners to advance apositive vision for the Internet and digital technologies. It reclaims the promise of the Internet in the face of the global opportunities and challenges presented by the 21st century. It also reaffirms and recommits its partners to a single global Internet – one that is truly open and fosters competition, privacy, and respect for human rights. The Declaration’s principles includecommitments to:
• Protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people;
• Promote a global Internet that advances the free flow of information;
• Advance inclusive and affordable connectivity so that all people can benefit from the digital economy;
• Promote trust in the global digital ecosystem, including through protection of privacy; and
• Protect and strengthen the multistakeholder approach to governance that keeps the Internet running for the benefit of all.
In signing this Declaration, the United States and partners will work together to promote this vision and its principles globally, while respecting each other’s regulatory autonomy within our own jurisdictions and in accordance with our respective domestic laws and international legal obligations.
Over the last year, the United States has worked with partners from all over the world – including civil society, industry, academia, and other stakeholders to reaffirm the vision of an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet and reverse negative trends in this regard. Under this vision, people everywhere will benefit from an Internet that is unified unfragmented; facilitates global communications and commerce; and supports freedom, innovation, education and trust.
A growing group of journalists has cut back on Twitter, or abandoned it entirely Journalists view Twitter as a valuable platform for finding and sharing information, but many say they wish they used it less.
“Many journalists use Twitter to connect with sources they might not otherwise reach; to drive traffic and attention to their published work; to rally support for union drives; and yes, often for fun and frivolity. During the last few months, amid an unprecedented global pandemic and nationwide protests for racial equality, the site has been a valuable platform for journalists assessing the rapidly evolving state of the nation and calling attention to the challenges they face covering it.
But for all the value journalists can extract from Twitter, they can also fall victim to its less savory aspects: engaging in petty squabbles over esoteric issues; fielding bigotry and bad-faith attacks from anonymous users and bots; enduring relentless brain stimulation that can distort perception and distract from more pressing responsibilities.”
Women, people of color and LGBTQ people might be discouraged from entering the field, Bien contends, if they know they’ll have to experience hate speech and physical threats as occupational hazards.
Safety parameters strengthen free speech and invites participation.
“Power Needs Guardrails.”
-Scott Galloway, author and podcaster
“Elon Musk promises to reduce censorship as he buys Twitter
Best of Today
The board of Twitter has agreed to a $44bn (£34.5bn) takeover offer from Elon Musk. The billionaire has promised to reduce censorship on the platform, raising questions about what his approach will mean for the “digital town square”. On Monday he tweeted that he hoped his worst critics would remain on Twitter “because that is what free speech means”. Today’s Nick Robinson speaks to Vivian Schiller, former head of global news at Twitter who is now executive director at the Aspen Institute, and Ross Gerber, friend of Elon Musk and founder of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth Management. (Image credit: Patrick Pleul/Pool via REUTERS)
‘With help from Isaiah Berlin, I wrote about negative freedom of speech, positive freedom of speech, and why Elon Musk types fear a world in which all of us can speak freely and safely.’
Mr. Musk operates from a flawed, if widespread, misapprehension of the free speech issue facing the country. In his vision, what we may, with help from the philosopher Isaiah Berlin, call negative freedom of speech, the freedom to speak without restraint by powerful authorities, is the only freedom of speech. And so freeing Nazis to Nazi, misogynists to bully and harass and doxx and brigade women, even former president Donald Trump to possibly get his Twitter account back. this cuttingof restraints becomes the whole of the project.
But there is also what we may call positive freedom of speech: affirmative steps to create conditions that allow all people to feel and be free to say what they think.
Legally speaking, all American women or people of color or both who were ever talked over in a meeting or denied a book contract or not hired to give their opinion on television enjoy the protections of the First Amendment. The constitutional protection of speech does not, on its own, engender a society in which the chance to be heard is truly abundant and free and equitably distributed. “Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep” Mr. Berlin once said. This is a point often lost on Americans. Government – or large centralized authority – is one threat to liberty but not the only one. When it comes to speech, what has often kept a great many people from speaking isn’t censorship but the lack of a platform. Social media, including Twitter, came along and promised to change that. But when it became a cesspit of hate and harassment for women and people of color in particular, it began to offer a miserable bargain: You can be free to say what you wish, but your life can be made unrelentingly painful if you so dare.
“With the possible exception of hockey games, there have been few places in our modern lives where public interactions are supposed to be coarse. If (back when we could, and soon when we can again) you go to the theater, a museum, the mall, a restaurant, the library, school, the supermarket, the park, or yes, even to a movie theater, the management does not tolerate or encourage acting like a jerk.
And then social media arrived.
Social media is a place where the business model depends on some percentage of the crowd acting in unpleasant ways. It draws a crowd. And crowds generate profit.
We’ve created a new default, a default where it’s somehow defensible to be a selfish, short-sighted, anonymous troll. At scale.
Civility has always been enforced by culture, and for the last hundred years, amplified by commerce. We shouldn’t accept anything less than kindness, even if the stock price is at stake. DMS has a great point about the algorithm. Once you start prioritizing some voices, you become responsible for the tone and noise and disconnection (or possibility, connection and peace of mind) you’ve caused.”
‘Let’s have less hate and more love.’
Let’s pray he means it. -dayle
Bellingcat staff to benefit from TTI’s expert psychological services.
Trauma Treatment International is to provide psychological support to staff of investigative journalism site Bellingcat, helping them deal with their exposure to violent content.
The collective, which has 20 full-time staff and more than 30 contributors around the world, launched in 2014 to probe a variety of subjects using open source and social media investigation.
These have included the poisoning of MI6 double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, the death of Venezuelan rebel leader Óscar Alberto Pérez, and the attempted murder of Russian politician Alexei Navalny. The group is currently working to gather evidence of war crimes in Ukraine as the conflict continues.
Trauma Treatment International’s CEO Quen Geuter said:
“Bellingcat’s vital investigative work can include dealing with traumatic material like images of injury, death or sexual assault. Staff can also find themselves the subject of online harassment and abuse which can be very disturbing.
“Left unchecked, this exposure can lead to conditions like burnout, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and generalised anxiety. As a trauma-informed organisation, Bellingcat understands that it needs to take a preventative approach to vicarious trauma through help from our experts.”
TTI’s clinical psychologists are experienced in working with trauma caused by exposure to violent content, in particular within the context of human rights infringements. As part of the partnership with Bellingcat, they will lead initial check-ins with 20 staff members to assess their mental wellbeing, and offer advice on coping with workplace stressors.
Staff can then request two further sessions if they feel they need follow-up support, while the clinical team will provide help to anyone showing signs of PTSD or needing additional treatment.
Quen added: “The war in Ukraine is having a negative effect on the mental health of many of us as we watch in horror from the sidelines. For the Bellingcat team-members, who are delving even deeper into the human toll of the war, this impact is far greater.
“The support of our clinical psychologists will be extremely valuable for them, helping to prevent serious mental health challenges from arising in the future.”
Bellingcat senior investigator Nick Waters said: “Bellingcat has never been a single monolithic body, but rather a network of those passionate about holding perpetrators to account. Ultimately we have reached where we are because of the passionate and driven people who look at a story and work out how to get to the bottom of it.
“Bellingcat knows that to keep producing the stories that we’re known for, we need to appropriately support those who investigate them, and as such we’re proud to work with TTI on this subject.”
Eliot Ward Higgins, who previously wrote under the pseudonym Brown Moses, is a British citizen journalist and former blogger, known for using open sources and social media for investigations.
If today was a holiday in your honor, what would it be about?
If we had to examine everything about you, your work, your impact, your reputation–what would be the positive caricature we would draw? What sorts of slogans, banners and greetings would we use to celebrate you and your work?
It’s never accurate to boil down an organization or a person’s work to a simple sentence or two, but we do it anyway.
“The history of the world, with the material destruction of cities and nations and people, expressed the interior division that tyrannizes the souls of all men, and even of the saints.” -New Seeds of Contemplation
From Merton’s The Sigh of Jonas
“Sooner or later the world must burn, and all things in it…for by that time the last man in the universe will have discovered the bomb capable of destroying the universe, and will have been unable to resist the temptation to throw the thing and get it over with.
And here I sit writing a diary.
But l o v e laughs at the end of the world, because love is the door to eternity; and, before anything can happen, love will have drawn him over the sill and closed the door, and he won’t bother about the world burning because ehe will know nothing about love.”
“Today will be different. Today I will be present. Today, anyone I speak to, I will look them in the eye and listen deeply. […] Today I will take pride in my appearance. I’ll shower, get dressed i proper clothes, and change into yoga clothes only for yoga, which today I will actually attend. […] Today there will be an ease about me. My face will be relaxed, its resting place a smile. Today I will radiate calm. Kindest and self-control will abound. Today I will buy local. Today I will be my best self, the person I’m capable of being. Today will be different.”
“Mother Earth and culture, the mother of mothers, are both a state, even as reverence toward Pachamama is on the rise.”
[Pachamama is a goddess revered by the indigenous peoples of the Andes.]
“Let us apply Julian’s teachings on motherhood to Mother Earth. As we saw in chapter 4, Hildegard was explicitly in her language about Mother Earth, demanding that ‘the earth must not be destroyed.’ The destruction of the earth is the destruction of the feminine. Matricide is ecocide, and ecocide is matricide. Invasion of indigenous lands and destruction of their cultures, the spreading of viruses that killed millions of indigenous peoples…the outcomes were the same. History is filled with matricides of all kinds Genocides, too” (p. 95).
“The ancient Hindu sages, we are told, ‘predicts the age in which we are now living.’ For them Kali Yuga represents the collapse of every kind of inner and outer coherence and personal and institutional forms of compassion, concern, and justice” (p. 95).
Matthew Fox, ‘Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic-and Beyond.’
“At least the global pandemic brought us all together.”
The human shape is a ghost
made of distraction and pain.
Sometimes pure light, sometimes cruel,
trying wildly to open,
this image tightly held within itself.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France:
“…a response that makes it possible to avoid war, to build the elements of confidence, stability and visibility. Together.”
“The role I want to play right now is citizen.”
“When we grant ourselves permission to live the life we want, there is little in the world that can stop us.” -Marianne
‘A relic from another age.’
Former President George H.W. Bush wrote to fellow ex-president Gerald Ford in 1996: “Too often we fail to tell our friends that we really care about them and we are grateful to them.”
‘Maybe pickone person today and say: You made a difference.’ [AXIOS]
From Seth Godin:
“…it’s a metaphorical green light, a window of opportunity, a shift in the culture you can feel disappearing, it might very well pay to speed up. Because that extra effort, done with safety on behalf of those you seek to serve, will compound.
It never pays to wait until a deadline, but when you see the world changing, it might be a good excuse to redouble your efforts.”
Reading this from Seth, reminded of Matthew’s book, which I loved. -dayle
“We will not save what we do not love.”
And from Matthew Fox:
“In Invoking the divine feminine, Julian of Norwich is of course informing us about how we need a balanced sense of gender to survive and even thrive in a time of pandemic and after a pandemic has left us. […] All human life on the planet is born of woman.“
“…liberté, égalité, et fraternité triumphed, and here, a place of exchange between English and French thinking, we get to enjoy the spots of peace: literature, friendship, conversation, debate. Long may we enjoy them and may they…instead of guns and grenades…become the weapons of new rebellions.”
“The world as we knew it has ended, and it’s time for something entirely innovative.”
From Seth Godin.
In defense of non-interactive media
It doesn’t talk back. It doesn’t beep or update or invite a click. It doesn’t change based on who’s consuming it. It doesn’t interrupt you, and it begs to not be interrupted.
It’s rarer than ever before, and sometimes, we need it.
Agree. Completely. I think all comments across all social media platforms should be muted for six months.We must recalibrate. Let us read, absorb, research…enact media literacy and ease the meanness, vitriol, hateful and polarization with our words. Practice Lectio Divine…contemplative interaction…not words…conversations through meaning and meditation. We need it…indeed. -dayle
From Dan Rather.
We often hear of the tides of history, as if the fate of the world shifts in unison – the rising and lowering of a great sea of fortune. Tides are predictable. They are unstoppable. They are acts of nature. Human affairs, while inextricably tied to planetary forces, are also shaped by the actions we take, and do not take. Our destinies do not move with any great cohesion or coordination. Rather we are more like boats tossed by the accumulation of countless individual waves (to stretch our maritime metaphor), cresting and receding, churning and placid, forceful and gentle. These can be waves that push us backwards, but they can also propel us forward to a better future.
When looking back at the past, it is tempting to see paths as preordained – narratives we neatly tuck into the contextual confines that make them easier to understand. In contrast, the present is always messy. It will only become clearer once we know how it ends, at which point we will be living in a new era of uncertainty.
We can never dismiss the many challenges we face or the threats they pose. They are particularly dire. The list of woes bears repeating and remembering – from the climate crisis, to the ongoing threat to our democratic institutions, to our continued struggle for racial justice, to the threats of war, to the pandemic, and onward.
In the future we may look back and see that one of these forces escalated to a point of even greater dominance, and disaster.
One of the few things I have learned with any certainty over the course of a long life is to be wary of certainty. Those who predict with the most confidence what will happen in the future are often the voices that should be treated with the greatest skepticism. These paragons of certainty invariably are the ones who talk the most and consequently do the least to make a difference.
Substack: Islands of Hope
Both sides…not working now. It’s lazy journalism. -dayle
‘Both sides’ journalism does not always show us the truth
by Sakhr Al-Makhadhi
Journalists are bound to tell the truth, not give platforms to positions which are demonstrably wrong in a misguided attempt to be ‘impartial’.
“Flat-earthers are not going to get as much space as people who believe the Earth is round, but very occasionally it might be appropriate to interview a flat-earther. And if a lot of people believed in flat Earth we’d need to address it more.”
The BBC’s director of editorial policy, David Jordan, tried to make a defence of impartiality. Instead, he inadvertently showed us why the dogma is so dangerous.
It’s time to end both-sidesism. For so long, the idea of impartiality has been treated as more a matter of faith than a principle to be debated.
Where does this end? If we’re giving airtime to flat-earthers, then surely Syrian war crimes deniers are entitled to a platform. How about genocide deniers, 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and people who think there’s no climate emergency?
In the UK, the dogma of impartiality led the media to the false equivalence trap during Brexit. Pro-EU campaigners were given their share of airtime, and then the other side said it had “had enough” of listening to experts and fed viewers factually incorrect claims.
On other issues, too, the shrine of impartiality has taken us to dangerous places.
It took the BBC until 2018 to recognise that it wasn’t necessary to host a climate crisis denier to balance a debate about the impending environmental emergency. The BBC briefing note read:
“To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage, in the same way you would not have someone denying that Manchester United won 2-0 last Saturday. The referee has spoken.”
But that was a long three years ago. Before COVID conspiracy theories and leaders in the UK and US began regularly mixing fact with fiction.
Why is impartiality valued more highly than truth? We know that we’re failing as journalists when around 25 percent of people avoid the news in the UK, and one of the main reasons is because they can’t trust the news to be true.
Journalists are not naive storytellers incapable of discerning fact from fiction.
If we don’t stop giving a platform to things we know are false, how are we going to win back that trust?
Ironically, it’s the BBC that is leading the way in the UK’s fight against fake news: they have a specialist reporter covering disinformation online, and in 2021, they appointed their first health disinformation reporter.
I know what you’re thinking: give them a platform, and then robustly challenge them. Let their arguments crumble in the face of a tough line of questioning. Here’s the danger with impartiality purists: simply repeating false claims – even if it’s challenged – can push people to believe the false statement.
This isn’t a manifesto for throwing impartiality out of the window. We’re not campaigners or activists. We shouldn’t have an agenda.
But we’re also not naive storytellers incapable of discerning fact from fiction. The New York Times and many other publications did readers a service when they called former President Donald Trump’s lies, lies.
Fairness doesn’t mean giving a platform to factual inaccuracies just because they’re popular. That’s what Twitter is for.
Image: A worker at a San Francisco Chronicle printing plant arranges stacks of freshly printed newspapers in 2007. Its digital version, like that of so many newspapers’, is behind a paywall. -Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The road to free information and opinions seems to run into a lot of paywalls.
Want to finish reading an article? You can, but only if you subscribe for just $1 for 3 months, which becomes $11.99 a month thereafter, and into perpetuity, until your credit card expires. Even if it’s after you do.
I have a strong, even personal interest in paying journalists fairly. But the cost most people have to pay these days if they want to try to stay informed and enrich their minds with a range of opinions is pretty steep.
It’s become harder to read more than an article or two in most publications, which may no longer be the word. News sites, from The New York Times and The Washington Post to The Des Moines Register, insist you subscribe. So do Ebony, The New Yorker, The Economist, Rolling Stone and opinion journals, including The Nation and National Review, and sports-reporting sites. And of course, there are proliferating newsletters and extra-access-plus plans, as news broadcasters begin their own subscription services. They don’t crave an audience, so much as what they call a “customer base.”
“You can’t do much web grazing of quality content these days without a paywall clanging shut on you,” Jack Shafer wrote last year in Politico. “What delights publishers about subscriptions is what everybody from Amazon to Spotify to the Dollar Shave Club to Netflix love — the annuity-like reliability of steady revenue.”
But the cost of inducing people to subscribe is to make news, information and a range of opinions available to only those who have the means to afford and receive them online. This skews the audience toward what Nikki Usher, a University of Illinois College of Media associate professor, calls the “rich, white, and blue,” as in left-leaning.
The political and social divides, which so many decry, may begin between those who can and those who can’t afford access to a wide range of fact-checked, accurate information.
Disinformation, of course, is utterly free.
Newspapers and magazines often got ink on your fingers. But they were cheap. Anyone with pocket change, rich, poor, students or job-seekers, could buy a copy of a magazine with Princess Diana or Oprah Winfrey on the cover or a newspaper when the headline said MAN WALKS ON MOON, or, yes, HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR.
The internet has made news and views of all kinds, from all over the world, available on screens we can keep in our pockets. But so many paywalls have pulled costly shades over those screens.
We need an opportunity to reestablish and recalibrate the purpose and necessity of the Fourth Estate. What should the institution’s moral compass be based on the ideals of the U.S. Founders? The U.S. Founders believed a free press vital to democratic debate. So how did the current contemporary news culture evolve into a climate of disinformation and false news? Further, how did an institution created for public service evolve into an influential economic profit platform more destructive than instructive? Free Press co-founder, author and professor Robert McChesney is an activist for government subsidized non-profit media, a model the United States Founders had encouraged for a free press. He believes the Founders did not “authorized a corporate-run, profit-motivated, commercially driven media system with the First Amendment.” Corporate owned media is complicit in misinformation, and disinformation, for ratings, clicks and profits. This must change. And the change begins with our consumer information behaviors and tech media regulation. Democracy may die in darkness, but right now it’s happening in broad daylight. The pillar of the Fourth Estate is crumbling. -dayle
“Some would say that humanity is destined for self-destruction; that our history of lethal violence towards our own kind has programmed us to be fearful, suspicious, revengeful and greedy; and, despite our modern age, this programming now threatens our well-being on a global scale never witnessed before. But does it have to be this way? Can we not consciously evolve into a different kind of human?”
I propose a journalism renaissance based on spiritual companioning, or homo spiritus, and radical compassion (Khen Lampert), deep empathy for other within democratic social process, a heart-based journalism paradigm in necessary community; a Fourth Estate defined in the third space of spirit, love, dignity, and humanity. -dayle
Life takes pride in not appearing uncomplicated. If it relied on simplicity, it probably would not succeed in moving us to do all those things that we are not easily moved to do.
“The Way Things Are…”
That’s how culture perpetuates injustice and indignity. Because that’s just the way things are around here.
But the status quo isn’t permanent. The world doesn’t stay the way it was. It changes.
And it’s been changing faster than ever.
It doesn’t change because the status quo sub-committee had a meeting and decided to change it.
It changes when someone decides that the way things are around here needs to change, and simply and bravely begins to do something differently.
And then someone else follows along.
I fear that the elevation of Dr. King to the pantheon of great Americans who have national birthday celebrations has come at a subtle cost. These days almost no public official would dare speak ill of Dr. King. However I worry that this universal acclaim has deadened the radicalism of Dr. King’s message. And by radicalism, I mean that what he espoused was far outside what was then the mainstream. It still is.
We must remember that he was a deeply contentious person at the time of his death. Dr. King would not, could not, suppress the moral clarity with which he saw the world. His messages about racial prejudice and social justice were not welcome in most corridors of power. He was a danger to the status quo and many who benefited from it. He not only preached powerfully about the necessity for racial healing and integration. He also issued stirring rhetoric from his pulpit on the need for economic fairness across racial lines. And he was a fierce critic of the Vietnam War.
So today, please don’t revere Dr. King the American saint. Please engage with Dr. King as the unique vessel for a message America was long overdue to hear.
Those words should ring like clarion calls to all of us today. Our task is not merely to celebrate the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr., but to commit ourselves to their realization. And that means much more than just tweeting a quote, or making an instagram post. It means developing what Dr. King described as “tough minds and tender hearts.” It means committing to routing out not only systems of injustice in the world, but also the hatred in our own hearts. Dr. King said that a basic tenet of non-violent philosophy is that “self-purification must precede political action.” In his words, we need both “a quantitative change in our circumstances and a qualitative shift in our souls.”
Dr. King was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., remember, a Baptist preacher whose political vision was rooted in his understanding of the gospel of Christ. “It is time,” he said, “to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of human civilization.” That love – that new love – was a social love, a love that would heal not only personal but also political and social relationships as well. He found inspiration for that possibility in the work of Mahatma Gandhi, traveling to India to study the principles of non-violence and bringing them back for application to the struggle for Civil Rights in the United States in the 1960’s.
So many of the struggles to which Dr. King dedicated his life, and for which he ultimately died, are struggles that are with us still. Surely he could be talking about America today with comments such as this: “If they give it to poor people, they call it a handout; if they give it to rich people, they call it a subsidy.” Or, “If it happens to rich people, they call it a Depression; if it happens to poor people, they call it a social problem.” Or how about this? In describing America in 1967, Dr. King described the “three evils” of racism, consumerism/poverty, and militarism/war. As those not the main challenges that are with us now? He called for a “radical revolution of values” then, just as we need to call for one now.
The struggle is in our hands. The dream is in our hands. The hope is in our hands.
MLK Day 2022. It’s our turn now.
‘…the ultimate goal (was) the establishment of the beloved community.” Such a notion was not a religious platitude; it was a political strategy.
For a full look at Dr. King’s writings and speeches, I highly recommend A Testament of Hope.’ -Marianne
The longer I live, the more urgent it seems to me to endure and transcribe the whole dictation of existence up to its end, for it might just be the case that only the very last sentence contains that small and possibly inconspicuous word through which everything we had struggled to learn and everything we had failed to understand will be transformed suddenly into magnificent sense.
Not every lesson feels fun while it’s happening, and at times I have resisted growth fiercely. But I remain open today to the miracle of transformation. I know that as I move forward into a new realm of being, Love itself will aid me in my progress. Spirit will erase the patterns of fear that have sabotaged my past.
Suleika, your name is on my alter as you continue to ease back into health. February v i b e s strong. Only love and healing and wholeness. -dayle
“When you’re suffering—enduring some kind of rage or heartbreak, disappointment or plain human idiocy—it can feel like you’re alone, like you’re the only person who’s struggling this way. Often, the impulse in those moments is not to share or create but to hide.”
Diving deeply into a dynamic unity, Father Richard Rohr writes:
In the early Christian era, only some few Eastern Fathers (such as Origen of Alexandria and Maximus the Confessor) cared to notice that the Christ was clearly something older, larger, and different than Jesus himself. They mystically saw that Jesus is the union of human and divine in space and time, and the Christ is the eternal union of matter and Spirit beyond time. But the later centuries tended to lose this mystical element in favor of dualistic Christianity. We lost our foundational paradigm for connecting all opposites.
Since we could not overcome the split between the spiritual and the material within ourselves, how could we then possibly overcome it for the rest of creation?
The polluted earth, extinct and endangered species, tortured animals, nonstop wars, and constant religious conflicts have been the result. Yet Jesus the Christ has still planted within creation a cosmic hope, and we cannot help but see it in so many unexplainable and wonderful events and people.
For more and more people, union with the divine is first experienced through “the Universal Christ”—in nature, in moments of pure love, silence, inner or outer music, with animals, or a primal sense of awe.
Our encounter with the eternal Christ mystery started about 13.8 billion years ago in an event we now call the “Big Bang.” God has overflowed into visible Reality and revealed God’s self in trilobites, giant flightless birds, jellyfish, pterodactyls, and thousands of species that humans have never once seen. But God did. And that was already more than enough meaning and glory.
From journalist and former CBS news anchor Dan Rather today:
Steady is about taking the world as it comes, trying to control what you can but recognizing much is beyond your ability to shape. It is about joining with others to leverage the power of collective action. It is about caring for yourself when you need to regain your footing. It’s about understanding that others have struggled in the face of injustice and despair. Steady is about recognizing that progress is possible, even when it feels ungraspable. It is also about having the humility to understand that joy can be fleeting, so you need to find it and hold on to it when you can.
I don’t know what the next year holds in store, for me, for you, or for our country and our planet. I hope it is one of greater justice, peace, and health. I know that it will undoubtedly be one of challenges, in ways we can predict, and in ways that are unknowable.
God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please…you can never have both. […] There is no history. There is only biography.
“Caution is like a disease, it kills ideas. Be daring. And caution will disappear.” -Yoko
“Some people say “hobby” like it’s a bad thing. In a race for more, it seems as though doing something you don’t get paid for, something that requires patience and skill–well, some people don’t get it. They’d rather troll around on social media or watch a rerun.
A generation or two ago, hobbies were things like paint by number or candlemaking, or perhaps a woodshop. That’s changing. Not simply because computers allow us to be far more professional, but because the very nature of the output is different.
This might be the golden age for a new kind of hobby, one that’s about community, leadership and producing public goods, not private ones.
Because it’s so much easier to connect and because ideas multiply, the generative hobby gives us a chance to make a contribution, even (especially) when we’re not at work. Sharing ideas, leading, connecting…
Wikipedia is the result of 5,000 people working together to produce a resource that’s used by a billion people. The people who have contributed the most don’t work there, they work on it.
Perhaps “generative contribution” is a better name for it. But I’m all for reclaiming “hobby,” because the way we spend our time is the way we spend our lives.”
Notre-Dame of Geneva basilica. Angel fighting Satan as a dragon.
‘At the deepest level of our being, of course, all of us need love. But often our love is like a frightened child, crouching in the chamber of our heart and afraid to come out. Capable of singing with the voice of an angel, it whispers instead, in fear of being laughed at. Meant to extend its blessing to all the world, it cowers in fear of being punished for having tried.
Fear, however, has no such compunction. It seeks to nullify love. It yells, it struts, it wars, it destroys without regret, it laughs at human suffering. It kills.
Right now, greed is put into action, fear is put into action, military madness is put into action, corruption is put into action, voter suppression is put into action, racial injustice is put into action, authoritarianism is put into action…and the list goes on.
Surely it’s our job now to put love into action.
But we’re living at a time when love must expand its influence beyond just personal to collective expression.
Such considerations are at odds with a dominant economic paradigm that puts short term profit before all else.
“I didn’t do it! It was my government!” will only take us so far at this point. Ignorance is not an excuse before the law, either worldly or spiritual. Spiritually we’re not even ignorant of the Law, so much as we’re just choose to ignore it.’
That needs to change.
All of us need to play our part. When hate speaks loudly, it’s not enough for love to whisper….
While one person choosing not to eat meat will have a small impact on our climate, it will have a much bigger impact on the restaurants, groceries and food suppliers who notice what you’re doing.
They’ll change what they offer, and that will lead to a multiplier effect of other people changing their habits.
Buying an electric car or installing solar before they’re the obvious economic choice has the same impact. Because once marketers and investors discover that there’s a significant group that likes to go first, they’re far more likely to invest the time and energy to improve what’s already there.
The same goes for philanthropy. When some people eagerly fund a non-profit with a solution that’s still in beta, it makes it easier (and more likely) that someone else will start one as well.
It also happens in the other direction. If we buy from a spamming telemarketer, abandon a trusted brand to save a buck or succumb to the hustle, the market notices.
Very few people have the leverage to change the world. But all of us have the chance to change the people around us, and those actions change what gets built, funded and launched.
Predatory capitalism refers to cultural acceptance of domination and exploitation as normal economic practice. … Less well scrutinized is how predatory capitalism has disrupted non-economic institutions, particularly cultural, social and democratic institutions.
An act or utterance that backfires on its originator.
“People are culturally wired to want to reciprocate. That’s one of the things that make a community function–someone does something nice for you and you’re inclined to want to find a way to do something nice in return.
Along the way, that instinct has been turned into a selfish way to get what you want.
Find someone you need (or will need) something from, figure out a way to do them a ‘favor’ and then use the interaction to create the conditions where the other person feels obligated to help you in return.
First, no one likes to be hustled.
Second, your hustle is more transparent than you realize.
Third, people value things differently. The thing you thought was a big lift didn’t mean that much to the person you did it for, or the thing you’re hoping they’ll do in return is far more difficult than it appears to be from your perspective.
The alternative is to go through your day oblivious to the idea that reciprocity might be a thing that other people feel compelled to act on. Simply show up with good intent to do work that you’re proud of.
If we do this with consistency and care, sooner or later, it comes back around. Not because we hustled, but precisely because we didn’t.”
Karma. Same. Cruelty does not go unanswered. It may take centuries, or a moment of simple awareness…the hustle…and knowing in that instant, “I am done.”
J’ai fini. -dayle
“When your day is long,
And the night, the night is yours alone,
When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life,
hang on…hang on. [R.E.M.]
We’re not in a race to check off as many boxes as we possibly can before we are out of time. Instead, we have the chance to use the time to create moments that matter. Because they connect us, because they open doors, because the moments, added up, create a life.
“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be.
If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. Without sunshine, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. The logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.
Looking even more deeply, we can see ourselves in this sheet of paper too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, it is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. We cannot point out one thing that is not here—time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. We cannot just be by ourselves alone. We have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.
Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. . . . Without non-paper elements, like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.” –Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh
What do you see?
‘I bring a sun-shift to others when I shift my light. Darkness does not exist in the light.’ [A Course in Miracles.]
If you feel uncomfortable with anything, you should re-consider your situation.
Cut your losses.
Far better to admit a mistake than to persist in it and allow it to develop into a nightmare.
The internet clearly has a trust problem. As with most things, it helps to start with the Grateful Dead.
After their incarnation as the Warlocks, they became more than a band. It was a family on the road. There were people who gave up their careers to follow them around, living on buses… they were seeing thirty or forty shows a year. You traded tickets, did favors, built relationships. People in the family knew that they’d be seeing each other again soon.
And then, in 1987, Touch of Grey went to #1 (their only top 40 hit) and it attracted a huge (and different) crowd to the shows. Reports were that the intimacy and trust disappeared.
Glen Weyl points out that the internet was started by three tribes, as different from each other as could be. The military was behind the original ARPA (and then DARPA) that built and funded it. Professors at universities around the world were among the early users. And in San Francisco, a group of ‘hippies’ were the builders of some of the first culture online.
Because each of these groups were high-trust communities, it was easy to conclude that the people they’d be engaging online would be too. And so, as the tools of the internet and then the web were built out, they forgot to build a trust layer. Plenty of ways to share files, search, browse, chat and talk, but no way to engage in the very complicated things that humans do around identity and trust.
Humans have been in tribal relationships since before recorded history began. The word “tribe” appears in the Bible more than 300 times. But the internet isn’t a community or a tribe. It’s simply a technology that amplifies some voices and some ideas. When we don’t know who these people are, or if they’re even people, trust erodes.
When a site decides to get big fast, they usually do it by creating a very easy way to join, and they create few barriers to a drive-by anonymous experience. And when they make a profit from this behavior, they do it more. In fact, they amplify it.
Which makes good business in the short run, but lousy public policy.
Twenty years ago, I wrote that if someone goes into a bank wearing a mask (current pandemic aside) we can assume that they’re not there to make a deposit.
And now we’re suffering from the very openness and ease of connection that the internet was built on. Because a collection of angry people talking past each other isn’t a community. Without persistence of presence, some sort of identity and a shared set of ideals, goals and consequences, humans aren’t particularly tempted to bring their best selves to the table.
The system is being architected against our best impulses. Humans understand that local leadership, sacrifice and generosity build community, and that fights and scandals simply create crowds. Countless people are showing up, leading and pushing back, but algorithms are powerful and resilient, and we need some of them to be rebuilt.
Until there’s a correlation between what’s popular or profitable and what’s useful, we’re all going to be paying the price.
Opinion by Nicole Hemmer
‘The Fairness Doctrine, a regulation from the late ‘40’s until 1987, dictated balanced coverage of controversial issues on broadcast radio and television. After its repeal, Rush Limbaugh & Fox News quickly became two of the most influential political institutions in the US.
Want to reinstate the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine to help curb the spread of disinformation? Conservatives and liberals both may well want to reconsider that idea, argues a Columbia University scholar.’
What America needs instead is a creative, comprehensive effort by both the private sector and the government to disincentivize conspiracies and misinformation on the many platforms on which they flourish. Some social media companies have begun this work, clearing out QAnon sites and banning some far-right and White power users and communities who pose a threat.
That work needs to continue, with careful attention to the biggest offenders who game algorithms and media structures to spread misinformation. But sources of misinformation also need to be demonetized, whether they are YouTube channels or national cable networks, and algorithms tweaked to slow down the spread of extreme content.’
“I’m going to spend more time writing on this because this is not only a digital detox story. it’s a story about power. And it’s at the center of everything.”
“Michael Goldhaber is the internet prophet you’ve never heard of. Here’s a short list of things he saw coming: the complete dominance of the internet, increased shamelessness in politics, terrorists co-opting social media, the rise of reality television, personal websites, oversharing, personal essay, fandoms and online influencer culture — along with the near destruction of our ability to focus.
Most of this came to him in the mid-1980s, when Mr. Goldhaber, a former theoretical physicist, had a revelation. He was obsessed at the time with what he felt was an information glut — that there was simply more access to news, opinion and forms of entertainment than one could handle. His epiphany was this: One of the most finite resources in the world is human attention. To describe its scarcity, he latched onto what was then an obscure term, coined by a psychologist, Herbert A. Simon: “the attention economy.”
Advertising is part of the attention economy. So are journalism and politics and the streaming business and all the social media platforms. But for Mr. Goldhaber, the term was a bit less theoretical: Every single action we take — calling our grandparents, cleaning up the kitchen or, today, scrolling through our phones — is a transaction. We are taking what precious little attention we have and diverting it toward something. This is a zero-sum proposition, he realized. When you pay attention to one thing, you ignore something else.
The idea changed the way he saw the entire world, and it unsettled him deeply. “I kept thinking that attention is highly desirable and that those who want it tend to want as much as they can possibly get,” Mr. Goldhaber, 78, told me over a Zoom call last month after I tracked him down in Berkeley, Calif. He couldn’t shake the idea that this would cause a deepening inequality.
“When you have attention, you have power, and some people will try and succeed in getting huge amounts of attention, and they would not use it in equal or positive ways.”
More than a decade later, Mr. Goldhaber lives a quiet, mostly retired life. He has hardly any current online footprint, except for a Twitter account he mostly uses to occasionally share posts from politicians. I found him by calling his landline. But we are living in the world he sketched out long ago. Attention has always been currency, but as we’ve begun to live our lives increasingly online, it’s now the currency. Any discussion of power is now, ultimately, a conversation about attention and how we extract it, wield it, waste it, abuse it, sell it, lose it and profit from it.
While Mr. Goldhaber said he wanted to remain hopeful, he was deeply concerned about whether the attention economy and a healthy democracy can coexist. Nuanced policy discussions, he said, will almost certainly get simplified into “meaningless slogans” in order to travel farther online, and politicians will continue to stake out more extreme positions and commandeer news cycles. He said he worried that, as with Brexit, “Rational discussion of what people stand to gain or lose from policies will be drowned out by the loudest and most ridiculous.”
“A friend of mine told me of a guru from Sri Lanka who asked, ‘What will be the undoing of humanity?’ He answered: ‘The separation between you and me.”
Ahimsa, nonviolence, asks us to abandon the notion of separation.”
When nonviolence in speech, thought, and action is established, one’s aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one’s presence.’ -Yoga Sutras
“Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service; you only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.” -Martin Luther King, Jr
This week, our nation will shift to new leadership and take the next step in creating a country rooted in justice and opportunity––a country we know is possible.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a 1967 speech at New York’s Riverside Church characterized these moments of transformation as “revolutionary times” when “new systems of justice and equality are being born.”
As we look to this day as a moment to celebrate and honor Dr. King’s work, let’s take time to continue his legacy of forging a new and better day by serving our communities. Below are some ways to do so:
There is the kindness of ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ And the kindness of “I was wrong, I’m sorry.” The small kindnesses that smooth our interactions and help other people feel as though you’re aware of them. These don’t cost us much, in fact, in most settings, engaging with kindness is an essential part of connection, engagement and forward motion.
And then there is the kindness of dignity. Of giving someone the benefit of the doubt. The kindness of seeing someone for the person that they are and can become, and the realization that everyone, including me and you, has a noise in our heads, a story to be told, fear to be danced with and dreams to be realized.
And there’s another: The kindness of not seeking to maximize short-term personal gain. The kindness of building something for the community, of doing work that matters, of finding a resilient, anti-selfish path forward.
Kindness isn’t always easy or obvious, because the urgent race to the bottom, to easily measured metrics and to scarcity, can distract us. But bending the arc toward justice, toward dignity and toward connection is our best way forward.
Kindness multiplies and it enables possiblity. When we’re of service to people, we have the chance to make things better.
‘The first half of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography makes some things abundantly clear:
He had no natural ability to play the guitar. In fact, after his first lessons, he quit, unable to play a note.
He had no singing talent. Every group he was part of needed a lead singer, and it wasn’t him.
And just about everyone dismissed him. Audiences walked out, his first agent simply stopped returning his calls and bandmates gave up and moved on.
He didn’t even know how to drive a car. Not only wasn’t he dating in high school, he wasn’t even cruising around town, being a charismatic rock star.
Talent is overrated. Skill is acquirable.
Showing up is something almost every creative leader has in common. In business, in the arts, in society. Consistently shipping the work, despite the world’s reaction, despite the nascent nature of our skill, despite the doubts.
And community is essential. The people you surround yourself with can reinforce your story, raise the bar and egg you on.
After the fact, the community becomes an integral part of your story of success. But first, you have to commit to the journey.’
-Seth Godin, author
“Writing about yourself is a funny business…but in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind.”
It also knows that people like points, likes and something that feels like popularity.
The social media companies optimized their algorithms for profit. And profit, they figured, would come from engagement. And engagement, they figured, would come from confounding our instincts and rewarding outrage.
Because outrage draws a crowd.
And crowds establish culture.
And a desire to be the leader of a crowd reinforced the cycle.
And so the social networks created a game, a game in which you ‘win’ by being notorious, outrageous or, as they coined the phrase, “authentic.” The whole world is watching, if you’re willing to put on a show.
That’s not how the world actually works. The successful people in your community or your industry (please substitute ‘happy’ for successful in that sentence) don’t act the way the influencers on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook do. That’s all invented, amplified stagecraft, it’s not the actual human condition.
Many of us have an overwhelming need to rubberneck, to slow down when we pass a crash on the highway. This is odd, as most people don’t go out of their way to visit the morgue, just for kicks. And yet…
I hope we’d agree that if people started staging car crashes on the side of the road to get attention, we’d be outraged.
That’s what happening, and the leaders of social networks pretend that they can’t do a thing about it, just as Google pretends that they can’t control the results of their search algorithm.
The shift that the leaders of the social networks need to make is simple. In the long run, it will cost them nothing. And within weeks, it will create a world that’s calmer, happier and more productive.
Amplify possibility. Dial down the spread of disinformation, trolling and division. Make it almost impossible to get famous at the expense of civilization. Embrace the fact that breaking news doesn’t have to be the rhythm of our days. Reward thoughtfulness and consistency and responsibility.
“Standing at my desk this summer, it had just turned 10 am, and I realized that I’d already:
Heard from an old friend, engaged with three team members on two continents, read 28 blogs across the spectrum AND found out about the weather and the news around the world.
Half my life ago, in a similar morning spent in a similar office, not one of those things would have been true.
The incoming (and our ability to create more outgoing) is probably the single biggest shift that computers have created in our work lives. Sometimes, we subscribe or go and fetch the information, and sometimes it comes to us, unbidden and unfiltered. But it’s there and it’s compounding.
One option is to simply cope with the deluge, to be a victim of the firehose.
Another is to make the problem worse by adding more noise and spam to the open networks that we depend on.
A third might be, just for an hour, to turn it off. All of it. To sit alone and create the new thing, the thing worth seeking out, the thing that will cause a positive change.”
A conversation with Masha Gessen on how to prevent “autocratic breakthrough,” why Russiagate was a “crutch” for the left, and what really happened in that New Yorker election s(t)imulation Zoom
A reelected Donald Trump, abetted by a 6-3 Supreme Court, is truly a terrifying prospect — very possibly the end of the American republic in any real sense. But we are not there yet. Where we are, in fact, is in the liminal space where it is still possible to achieve a different future.
This looming election may well be the last exit before autocracy.
That was one of the things I carried away from my conversation with the brilliant Masha Gessen, whose wisdom I’m so happy to be sharing with you today. This era has revealed its share of charlatans and criminals and fools. But it has also revealed genuine heroes — including intellectual ones. One of mine is Masha.
Masha is a journalist and writer and thinker who spent the first part of their career in Russia, writing about science, democracy, autocracy, and disease. Then they made a home in America, where it turned out that some understanding of science, democracy, autocracy, and disease would prove very handy.
Masha was made for this moment. To be clear, given their interests, you actually never want to be living in a time and place that Masha was made for, but here we are.
The question is what happens next. If he, God willing, wins, I think that in some ways Biden can be a transformative president, because I think that there’s a grand ambition there, that’s become very clear, to invest in infrastructure, to create a new welfare state, to bring the country together in some really, I think, beautiful ways.
What gives me hope is distinct from the question of whether I’m optimistic. I can be incredibly pessimistic, but hope is a necessity of survival and a moral imperative. I hope because I have to, because a better future is possible. The foundational requirement for it is hope.
I use the word autocracy intentionally, instead of authoritarianism, for two reasons. One is because I’ve spent so much of my life writing about totalitarianism that, in that context, authoritarianism is something distinct from totalitarianism. Authoritarianism is a kind of regime in which basically the ruler wants people to go home and tend to their private lives while they run the country. So nothing is political under authoritarianism; everything becomes private. Politics as such disappears.
Under totalitarianism, it’s the opposite. The totalitarian leader wants people out in the public square at all times, demonstrating their support for him. Under totalitarianism, nothing is private; everything is political. It’s the private that disappears.
So let’s stick with autocracy. Where are we in the autocratic arc? I hope we’re at the stage of the autocratic attempt. If there’s a spectacular failure of this election, not a failure as in Donald Trump wins, but a failure as in, he doesn’t leave office because he can abuse the courts, abuse the power of the courts and secure being able not to leave office that way, because he can create enough chaos to throw election results into enough doubt that he doesn’t leave office — if there is an actual engineered failure of the election, then we have already passed the point of no return, the point of autocratic breakthrough. So I don’t actually know the answer. I very much hope that we’re at the point of an autocratic attempt, and that attempt will be reversed because we vote him out of office.
Whereas the government of the United States should represent all of the people of the United States equally,
ction 1. The Electoral College shall be abolished and the President selected by popular vote; Senate membership shall be reallocated to reflect more accurately the distribution of the national population, with a minimum of one seat per state; Election Day shall be a national holiday; elections shall be publicly financed. All citizens of the United States, including those living in its territories and the District of Columbia, shall have the same electoral rights and representation as residents of a State; all citizens of voting age shall have the unencumbered right to vote in federal, state, and local elections. Congress shall have the power and obligation to enforce these provisions by appropriate legislation.
Section 2. In recognition of the inherent dignity of all persons, Congress shall have the power and obligation to enact appropriate legislation to secure all rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to education, healthcare, housing, employment, food security, and a clean and healthy environment.
The scientific method is the most powerful invention humans have ever created. It’s not just for people in white coats and in labs. The scientific method has changed what we wear, what we eat, the health of our families, the way we earn a living–the world as we know it is a result of a simple process of hypothesis, testing and explanation.
Unfortunately, school and other systems in our world focus on just one or two of the elements necessary to do it well.
Know the rules, maxims and outcomes that came before. Do the reading, score well on the test.
Understand the thinking behind these rules, so you can dive deeper and either change the rules or expand on them.
Do tests that others haven’t thought of or that people don’t think will work. Intentionally create falsifiable hypotheses, knowing that you might be wrong, and then go test them.
Publish your results so that others can examine your work and improve it. Show your work. Invite correction and improvement.
Explain what you did clearly so that it becomes part of the canon, so it can be used by others, until it’s replaced by something even more useful.
There are very few contentious arguments in our world today that couldn’t be more quickly resolved if all involved were willing to act in good faith and work their way through the steps together.
Because if you seek to lead or to change minds, if you’re working for better, then you’re a scientist.
In this whiteboard video, Seth Godin challenges you, whatever it is you do for a living, to figure out how to do work that matters, work you’re proud of.
“This is the book I need right now. It’s an extraordinary and electrifying call to action for writers, artists and creators in every walk of life. I re-read passages and felt as if my own secret creed was being explained back to me, in words I hadn’t yet found.” —Rosanne Cash, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter
Creative work doesn’t come with a guarantee. But there is a pattern to who succeeds and who doesn’t. And engaging in the consistent practice of its pursuit is the best way forward.
Based on the breakthrough Akimbo workshop pioneered by legendary author Seth Godin, The Practice will help you get unstuck and find the courage to make and share creative work. Godin insists that writer’s block is a myth, that consistency is far more important than authenticity, and that experiencing the imposter syndrome is a sign that you’re a well-adjusted human. Most of all, he shows you what it takes to turn your passion from a private distraction to a productive contribution, the one you’ve been seeking to share all along.
With this book as your guide, you’ll learn to dance with your fear. To take the risks worth taking. And to embrace the empathy required to make work that contributes with authenticity and joy.
Authenticity is mandatory, I think, yet, I understand their message.- dayle