Re: Book on use of electronic networks for democracy [cr-95/10/25]


Sender: •••@••.••• (Marilyn Davis)

Mark Stahlman said:

> Sorry, but it could get a whole lot worse.  In fact, in this place at this
> time,  a dramatically worse fate for us all is virtually inevitable under
> hyper-democracy.  Therefore, reasonable men and women have no choice but to
> oppose hyper-democracy with all their hearts and minds.  No choice,
> whatsoever.

I hear you and thank you for articulating so honestly what, I know,
many people feel ... especially members of the press.

As a "pure-of-heart street fellow" building the democracy drum, I am
genuinely sorry to bring such worries onto your head.

I sometimes regret that the one thing that won't be decided by *any*
kind of material-world democracy is whether or not "hyperdemocracy" is
going to happen.  The fact is, nothing can stop it.

The path to hyperdemocracy was laid in cement when humans acquired the
ability to speak and write.  From there, accumulation of knowledge was
inevitable.  And, after some time of accumulating knowledge, computer
technology was inevitable.  Given computer technology and our innate
human attraction to democracy, Electronic Democracy was inevitable.

But please, don't be afraid.  Everything is going to be OK, even

Electronic Democracy is the vehicle to take us to the world that was
always promised us by prophets; a world where a meek person like me
can influence political affairs as much as any domineering person.

We'll do a great job.
Marilyn                               *
Marilyn Davis, Ph.D.-------------- * ---- eVote - online voting software
|                                 *       demo at (415) 493-8683       |
3790 El Camino Real, #147  *     *        Weekdays, 10-5 PST           |
Palo Alto, CA 94306 USA     *   *         log in as "eVote" - no quotes.
(415) 493-3631 ------------- * * -------- •••@••.••• ------------

Sender: Mark Stahlman (via RadioMail) <•••@••.•••>


Thanks for taking the time to ponder whether I'm a terminally inconsistent
knucklehead.  You're right.  I seem to be *both* pointing to the tremendous
dangers and the remarkable promise of this medium.  What on earth am I
really saying?

Both.  This medium -- like any new technology -- can be used for good or
evil.  I'm an optimist by nature and I fundamentally believe that freedom
will win out.  I'm also a veteran of enough battles to know that winning
will not be automatic or easy.  What we discuss and how we act truly
matters.  It's up to us -- where the "us" are likely to be lining up on
both the good and evil sides of the barricades, BTW.

Let me be clear.  I stand for freedom.  Specifically the freedom to
exercise uniquely human free will -- which I take to be the freedom to be
rational.  For these conversations, let's just collapse all the ethics
debates to this: those activities which promote uniquely human (i.e. no
beasts and no machines) free will are *good* and those which seek to
curtail free will are *evil*.  Yes, it's more complex than that but let's
start there.

The most important quality of this medium is that it is two-way.  It's
embodiment is email, lists, BBSes, forums, conferences and chat is a
*potentially* extremely powerful weapon in the arsenal of freedom.  But,
not necessarily.  The NET is inherently anti-propagandistic but that
doesn't mean that it can't be used to manipulate.  It all depends on how we
use it, how we think about it and how we treat each other.

Public opinion polling is, by-and-large, pure evil.  It was designed by WW
II psy-warriors to control a civilian population.  CONTROL.  As in thwart
the development of rational human free will.  I oppose polling.  It is, in
my judgement, *evil* and anti-human.

In fact, the only appropriate response to most polling questions is "I
don't know."  Not, "I have no opinion" (because opinions are easy and we
all have them), but "I don't know why you are asking me this question, what
you intend to do with the answer or what all the complex issues beneath the
surface add up to."  If it were a choice, I would answer, "I don't know but
if you are willing to pay me to drop everything I'm doing to study the
issue I'll report back in a few days/weeks/months."  That would be called
"judgement" polling and it will never happen.  It's not in the "marketing"
budget. <g>

When the percentage of "I don't know" answers heads towards 50% on national
opinion polls then I'll know that rationality is winning.  But, with a
population that believes that its *opinions* actually matter -- amply
demonstrated by the drivel that consumes most NET traffic or Talk TV/radio
-- rationality has clearly not yet won.  In some still rare circumstances
(like the TIME cyberporn case), rational non-opinion based discussion has
won out.  That's why I wrote about how the NET defeated TIME magazine.
But, otherwise . . .

How can we use this medium for good?  Be rational.  Promote rationality.
Refuse to give an opinion.  Refuse to let the medium be used to collect
opinions.  Stop all attempts to turn this medium into an infernal opinion
polling device.  Stupidity, irrationality and the willingness (yes, free
will again) to be manipulated can be stopped.  Don't promote it; don't do

Hyper-democracy is nothing but an elaborate and very dangerous form of
opinion polling.  That's my judgement.  I've spent days (or weeks) reading,
talking, debating this issue.  I've tried to be rational and consider all
the arguements and all the evidence.  I'm still doing that.  Polling is the
wrong way to use this medium.

I'm the one pointing out -- as far as I know I'm one of the few pointing
out -- exactly who has exactly which plans to use the NET for manipulating
opinions -- *evil*.  That role could make it seem that I'm just a negative,
cheap-shot SOB.  Well, I view this as a battle.  Someday, we'll all have to
figure out which side we're on.  I'm on the side of human freedom -- the
freedom to do what only humans can do, be rational.  Does that help to
clarify any apparent contradictions?

Mark Stahlman
New Media Associates
New York City

 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
You are encouraged to forward and cross-post messages for non-commercial use,
pursuant to any redistribution restrictions included in individual messages.