Category Archives: Notes

Wikileaks: The global hunt for new metaphors

Naomi Wolf’s article is hilariously for many reasons. And David Weinberger’s nuanced position worth to reconsider. The lines are drawn by others anyway.  While Weinberger’s sees the significants of wikileaks as primary symbolic, Wolf is the artist who puts on the audience as a mask. Mark Zuckerberg’s baby is exercising the same effect on the individual that wikileaks exercises on institutions; identity crisis. Facebook’s goals are clear and find much support in driving a profession to embrace social networks for their purpose. To “master the art of behavioral targeting” sounds more familiar to our ears as “a just civilization“. But the effect is the same.

“This year they passed 500 million users. … The scale of Facebook is something that is transforming our lives. One in 10 people on the planet, and it’s excluded in China where one in five people on the planet live,”

Assange’s appearance creates the attention facebook has in 2007. And it divides opinions along the same lines as does wikileaks. How did the journalistic profession react to facebook? Uniformly they reacted in the same way to facebook as they did to weblogs or RSS a decade ago. Although Kuebler-Ross’s five stages of grief played out not quiet as simultaneously around the globe for weblogs as they did for facebook the structural impact was the same.

The first stage was one of finding a new language, new metaphors for what was mostly old vine in new bottles. Only some years ago consultant’s announced the marriage of “magazines” with “newspapers” (newszines)  the way to go,  Juan Antonio Giner now sees Journalism as about “finding” the news not just “releasing” and “decorating” it. Forgetting that his innovation was the response to the massive decline in advertisement revenue due to changing media consumption habits. Advertising plays the major role in stabilizing a media system constantly threatened by technological advances. As the internet is expected to take over newspapers in 2012 (in terms of advertising spending) the years of traditional TV are counted. The employment effects of this technological change are well documented and not unlike that of other sectors. A rise in budget cuts, rise in atypical working conditions and higher workload for many journalists around the globe. While new tools demand new skills to master the old craft of story telling much stress was underway long before wikileaks captivated so many so fast.

What happens now to wikileaks is what happened to all previous technologies. Diversification in degree and kind relative to the “rooster in the house”. A selection progress is yet to come by which the niches established provide an environment in which a given species can flourish. But for now we are left with a global hunt for new metaphors to “purify the dialect of the tribe” (T.S. Eliot correctly described this process).

While government’s response is uniform the business world has to wake up to the new realities unleashed by wikileaks. Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times reflects the understanding that “whatever American’s secret agenda was held to be, they definitely had one – only the naive could believe otherwise”. He dismisses the point that governments need to protect themselves from their own population; a principle embodied in diplomacy. While marketing seems at first to be the means to achieve for private companies what diplomacy does for governments, we can be sure that 2012 will see a rise in global advertising spending as much as in cyber security.

Wikileaks leesens the east-west divide, a comment by Boynoton Rawlings seeing Assange akin to Prometheus who “chained to the mountain with his liver eaten out by an eagle” is as much an attempt to update our sensibilities to the new realities as the comparison of Assange to Neon (the hacker from the Matrix). Prometheus stole the fire from the gods who resided in the heavens and brought it down to men. A titan himself who felt sympathy for men revenge for Zeus autocratic regime. Zeus won, and send Pandora with a box down to men – the rest is history: for the greeks at least. In the following comment G. Rayners is right in assuming that “in terms of freedom of information and consideration of human rights that west and east are now set on a convergent course”. But he is wrong in that it is a truism. After all, the “Great Firewall of China” was build by European and American companies. And TOR, the encryption system Wikileaks utilizes, was developed by a chinese to overcome the firewall.


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Wikileaks and the holy grail of Journalism

At the beginning was the word. The greek term  for word was logos. And that might have been translated “In the beginning was the point of it all”. The plan that would be realized, do you say, the intelligent design that the balance of human life and human history would instantiate. In the beginning was the point, and journalists are very helpful in getting us to the point.

By the end of november wikileaks suffered a DOS attack and was subsequently taken offline by Amazon and signed out by Master, Visa and Paypal. At day two (29th of November) of what came to be known as cyberwar, Hillary Clinton stayed rather cool about an issue that has since than quadrupled. And EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton should not be too happy for the pretext to spend more money on cyber security and counter-espionage. Paper copies of  top-level-classified documents from the EU’s intelligence-sharing bureau is EU’s answer to the hole which wikileaks fills.

While the US state department is ‘looking into’ possibility to issue a law suit against the australian hacker – Austria’s far left party considers to grant Assange asylum. While the french government dislikes the idea of having wikileaks hosted on their territory, US diplomat Hillary calls wikileaks action an attack on the international community. And she is right! Nothing could be further away from the truth than an information fountain spreading globally information worth in the billions to everybody for free. The question is why not building a business model around it?

Lets start slowly. The moral quibbles of opponents and apologetics on freedom of information are boring and miss the point but help in deluding our grasp. Like the free flow of gossip about political leaders are being repackaged by journalists behind their screen analyzing the constant stream of information via RSS, so are the debates on “whether it[wikileaks] is a good or a bad thing” or whether Assange is a “hero or a monster”.  That China was the first nation successfully blocking wikileaks finds resonance in all western attempts to stop its service from working. And how hard this is explains Jeff Jonas.

On the fourth day (1st of December) after the information fountain began spreading its content over the globe the horde jumped on it. No newspaper on this globe did not pick “whats fit to print” and did so instantaneously. Until Anonymos was sure what the phenomenon meant Mastercard found itself in the leaked cables and got attacked.

And what does this all have to do with Journalism?

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Wikileaks: The implosion of Investigative Journalism

Picture taken from

Take Today: The media as drop out. Todays buzz is certainly not yesterdays news: look at facebook or on twitter. When wikileaks released a video in june this year nobody blamed the Chinese dissidents who announced in 2007 that “they will launch a site designed to let whistleblowers in authoritarian countries post sensitive documents on the internet without being traced” for violating the values undergrinding western democracies. But in the last week Julian Assange became the center of attention for millions around the planet as its detention in England casts an enigmatic shadow over a charismatic character.

Marc Coddington provides a useful summery of the highlights of yesterdays news briefly and concise. Most professionals from the field of journalism and experts are torn between moralizing and analyzing the “full-out war on the internet”. But while most commentators attempt to reconcile their identity in the face of the new reality, few go beyond the surface level into the more profound implications of the wikileaks phenomenon. Others are just artistic expressions to update our sensibilities to the present. Robert Fisk is unlike others who always look into the rear-view mirror for a guide to the future rightly pointing to the loss of institutional memory as the cause of wikileaks rise.

“…Its a very sad day for journalism, in fact what appears to be happening is of a computer hacker… has become the new journalist”

Is wikileaks the failure of journalism? Very much, Fisk says and explains the larger consequence of wikileaks on the values undergrinding western democracies.

“There is one thing we don’t take into account. These are documents that eventually would have become in the public domain in 30 years time. Where of course historians would have read them and used them. Whats different about this is that we are now getting them online and in real time. And if this goes on, and the Americans actually cant improve their encryption of their own documents when they are floating around, we are going to have pretty soon a situation where we will know today what the British ambassador or the American ambassador is saying in Beirut yesterday. And this will be pretty astonishing.”

Not only is this the view of an icon in investigative journalism but also that of an informed historian. Needless to say the matters have worsen every day with journalists subscribe to the Cable Leak’s via RSS picking out what satisfies their national or nice audience. Neither in 2008 when wikileaks conducted an information auction into Chavez’s management, CIA activities in Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution nor in 2009 when it publishes 9/11 messages

has it caused so much widespread discussion over the moral ground of the non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public. With the release of 250.000 diplomatic cables of  “The Iraq War Logs” two weeks ago the tip of an iceberg is now melting. This caused already one victim. An  69-year-old diplomat was admitted to George Washington University Hospital after falling ill at work on Friday. Richard Holbrooke is a good example of what might happen to many more people over the shock wikileaks created by making public what was thought of being confidential. Finding himself on the front news of newspapers all over the globe can cause heart-attack. And it is only in the light of this tragedy that we can appreciate the conclusion Oiwan Lams blog post with the title “Why is china blocking wikileaks?” has to offer us. Maybe we are all wrong about our assumptions underpinning our self created identities. And it is good to remember that the same companies that build the “Great Firewall of China” hosted Wikileaks “alleged documents”.

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Media Log

by Marshall Mcluhan (1953-1959)

About 1830 Lamartine pointed to the newspaper as the end of book culture: “The book arrives too late.” At the same time Dickens used the press as base for a new impressionist art, which D. W. Griffiths and Sergei Eisenstein studied in 1920 as the foundation of movie art.

Robert Browning took the newspaper as art model for his impressionist epic The Ring and the Book; Mallarme did the same in Un Coup de Des.

Edgar Allen Poe, a newsman and, like Shelly, a science fictioneer, correctly analyzed the poetic process. Conditions of newspaper serial publication led both him and Deckens to the process of writing backward. This means simultaneity of all parts of a composition. Simultaneity compels sharp focus on effect of thing made. Simultaneity is the form of the press in dealing with Earth City. Simultaneity is formula for the writting of both detective story and symbolist poem. These are derivatives (one “low” and one “high”) of the new technological culture. Simultaneity is related to telegaph, as the telegraph to math and physics.

Joyce’s Ullysses completed the cycle of this technological art form.

The mass media are extensions of the mechanisms of human perception; they are imitators of the modes of human apprehension and judgment.

Technological culture in the newspaper form structures ordinary awareness in patterns that correspond to the most sophisticated maneuvers of mathematical physics.

Newton’s Optics created the techniques of picturesque and Romantic poetry.The technicques of discontinuous juxtaposition in landscape poetry and painting were transferred to the popular press and the popular novel.

In 1830, due to this technological revolution, English popular consciousness was structured in ways that French and European intellectuals did not acquire until a later generation.
Average English and American unawareness has been ahead of official culture and awareness for two hundred years has automatically thrown in his lot with the average man against officialdom.

The Swiss culture historian Giedion has had to invent the concept of “anonymous history” in order to write an account of the new technological culture in Anglo-Saxondom.

The professoriat has turned its back on culture for two hundred years because the high culture of technological society is popular culture and knows no boundaries between high and low.

The children of technological man respond with untaught delight to the poetry of trains, ships, planes, and to the beauty of machine products. In the schoolroom, officialdom suppresses all their natural experience; children are divorced from their culture. They are not permitted to approach the traditional heritage of mankind through the door of technological awareness; this only possible door for them is slammed in their face. The only other door is that of the high-brow. Few find it, and fewer find their way back to popular culture.

T.S. Eliot has said he would prefer an illiterate audience, for the ways of official literacy do not equip the young to know themselves, the past, or the present. The technique of an Eliot themselves, the past, or the present. The technique of an Eliot poem is a direct application of the method of the popular radiotube grid circuit to the shaping and control of the charge of meaning. An Eliot poem is one instance of a direct means of experiencing, under conditions of artistic control, the ordinary awareness and culture of contemporary man.

Photography and cinema have abolished realism as too easy; they substitute themselves for realism. All the new media, including the press, are art forms that have the power of imposing, like poetry, their own assumptions. The new media are not ways of relating us to the old “real” world; they are the real world, and they reshape what remains of the old world at will.

Official culture still strives to force the new media to do the work of the old media. But the horseless carriage did not do the work of the horse; it abolished the horse and did what the horse could never do. Horses are fine. So are books.

Technological art takes the whole earth and its population as its material, not as its form. It is too late to be frightened or disgusted, to greet the unseen with a sneer. Ordinary life-work demands that we harness and subordinate the media to human ends.

The media are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. They can be entrusted only to new artists, because they are art forms.

Harnessing the Tennessee, Missouri, or Mississippi is kid stuff compared with curbing the movie, press, or television to human ends. The wild broncos of technological culture have yet to find their busters or masters. They have found only their P.T. Barnums.

Europeans cannot master these new powers of technology because they take themselves too seriously and too sentimentally. Europeans cannot imagine the Earth City. They have occupied old city spaces too long to be able to sense the new spaces created by the new media.

The English have lived longer with technological culture than anybody else, but they lost their chance to shape it when the ship yielded to the plane. But the English language is already the base of all technology.

The Russians are impotent to shape technological culture because of their inwardness and grimness. The future masters of technology will have to be lighthearted; the machine easily masters the grim.

Russian austerity is based on fear of the new media and their power to transform social existence. Russia stands pat on the status quo ante 1850 that produced Marx. There culture ends. The Russian revolution reached the stage of book culture. Russian politicians have the same mentality as our professoriat: they wish technology would go away.

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Notes: McLuhans relation to the study of conciousness

In a wider sense technology shares common features with what we call magic. Technology like magic transforms the audience.

As a poet he approaches culture through the lens of artistic expression. He was not interested in a scientific explanation but makes use of its results. Interested in the the nature of reality rather than in its manifestation his laws of media are a tool for investigation into the nature of existence. What it means to be human and alive. He asserts that the mental interplay between the senses is the extension of the human a faculty of self awareness that is by nature creative in a very literal sense. This faculty creates the environment of our conscious being in the same sense reality is created by it. Transcending the matter/form controversy by putting the world inside the mind is an unfamiliar notion for all those who hold on to an outdated model of consciousness in the study of the mind. By explaining the laws governing the process by which men extends himself into the environment McLuhan demands a change in our imaginative picture of the world so familiar to us. It demands to surrender to the common fact that our brain is but a part of the puzzle created by an technological extended mind. It puts an emphasis to shine some light upon the environmental conditions under which a brain exists and builds the rich experience refereed to as reality or consciousness. That the interplay between the senses and the mind extended by technologies configures the sensibilities reflected in a minds expressions. It also demands justification from those who think we are mere thinking machines evolving along a save path.

Thus it is empirical in that neurobiology is the study of the biological aspects of the brain and its neurons. Validated by its insights, cognitive science has to pursue the abstract properties of the brain machinery. From the cellular level onwards symbols replace the ontological difference between concrete and abstract containers of information. Above the biochemical level of investigation one finds a dense gray matter dealing in some way with the external world via the central nervous system and sensory organs. An understanding of how this gray mass constructs an conscious identity can be studied by stipulating a multiple drafts version of consciousness. His understanding into the nature of consciousness is its expression as a theorists fiction in the form of an algorithm.

I want to call the form in which one has to imagine such an algorithm the memespace. At the heart of it is the human brain carried by the biological apparatus through time and space. Like space is linked to the visual stimulus received by the eye so is time a product of the brains performance in creating what we are contained in. It is not a unified space but can be visualized best by imagining layers of electromagnetic fields. No atoms or matter is present to the extend our brain is conditioned to perceive it, just a vortex of energies. The idea behind the memespace is the same as behind the holographic brain theory put forward by Karl Pilgrim. The memespace is the sum of the interference pattern between ripples. The world would look like a hologram if we would not have lense like structures. But since we have crystal structures in the fabric of matter we find it also in the result of the hologram experienced as reality. See the video . In this space the observer is manifested as the product of his selfimage. There is a lot to say about the details of his Theory as well as the implications beeing drawn from it. But it rests on empirical observations of the brain and the neural networks it contains. It is compatible with cognitive theories but differ to the extend that they demand the same change in our imaginative picture of the world as McLuhan.

He was an empiricist and not impressed by theory. In fact, in his posthumos work ‘The Global Village’ he cites Pilgrim believing his theory of how the brain works to be correct. That it is hard to find him in Textbooks on cognitive psychology indicates that he was not. But I leave this aside as well. For the moment this are the fundaments. The meme space is the world we would consciously perceive if we would not have evolved sensory organs. Another way to call it is the .

In 1953 Mcluhan, Robert Dobbs explains his invention, figured out that technology creates memes. They occupy the meme space and these memes are based on the sensory rations and mental interplay or attitudes. Memes are analogues to genes in that they are the catalyst of an evolutionary process geared towards procrastination. But whereas genes refers to the domain of Biology memes are the products of in the domain of culture. Something we generally refer to as artifact. Artifacts are product of the human spirit aided by technology. In this context David Kelly is to call to attention. In his understanding of technology as the 7th kingdom, a cosmic force with its own dynamics, he develops a natural history of what Mcluhan refers to extensions. His view that it is the arena in which humans ‘play the infinite game’ gives a good metaphor for the master theoris’s fiction explained here.

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David Joseph Bohm (b. December 20, 1917, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania – d. October 27, 1992, London) was an American-born quantum physicist who made significant contributions in the fields of theoretical physics, philosophy and neuropsychology, and to the Manhattan Project. Bohm was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to a Hungarian Jewish immigrant father and a Lithuanian Jewish mother. He was raised mainly by his father, a furniture store owner and assistant of the local rabbi. Bohm attended Pennsylvania State College, graduating in 1939, and then headed west to the California Institute of Technology for a year, and then transferred to the theoretical physics group under Robert Oppenheimer at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was to obtain his doctorate degree. Bohm lived in the same neighborhood as some of Oppenheimer’s other graduate students (Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz, Joseph Weinberg, and Max Friedman) and with them became increasingly involved not only with physics, but with radical politics. Bohm gravitated to alternative models of society and became active in organizations like the Young Communist League, the Campus Committee to Fight Conscription, and the Committee for Peace Mobilization all later branded as Communist organizations by the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. Bohm also made significant theoretical contributions to neuropsychology and the development of the holonomic model of the functioning of the brain. In collaboration with Stanford neuroscientist Karl Pribram, Bohm helped establish the foundation for Pribram’s theory that the brain operates in a manner similar to a hologram, in accordance with quantum mathematical principles and the characteristics of wave patterns. These wave forms may compose hologram-like organizations, Bohm suggested, basing this concept on his application of Fourier analysis, a mathematical method for decomposing complex waves into component sine waves. The holonomic brain model developed by Pribram and Bohm posits a lens defined world view— much like the textured prismatic effect of sunlight refracted by the churning mists of a rainbow— a view which is quite different from the more conventional “objective” approach. Pribram held that if psychology means to understand the conditions that produce the world of appearances, it must look to the thinking of physicists like Bohm

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Necessary Illusions in the Global Village – The birth of an imagined community – part 6

But there is absolutely nothing objective about a nation and its state. This is best illustrated when observing its boarders. Scientist would not be able to find anything in nature that makes the boarder region different from a non boarder region. Historians would not find any hints that history is a objective identity to conclude that the nation state is the normal or even healthy form of development in the world. And a linguist would insist that wether or not something is a dialect or a language is socially constructed, that means politically constructed.

A common language is only a common language because a state makes its standard, insists on it being thought in the schools, uses it in the curt system, uses it in the army and not the other way around. History is always biased by those in power who write history so that power looks natural towards them. And a child to which perception comes so natural

To make my point clear. When Aristotle says, that the art of ship-building is not in the wood, it has to become clear that the art of states craft cannot be found in what constitutes a state whatsoever. Nations and their states are no more natural than diet coke is. Without sparkling water, Aspartan, Colormatter and Plantextracts there would be no diet coke but nothing in this makes it diet coke by nature.

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