Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Sunday, April 13, 2003day link 

 Weblogs and Neurons
picture L'oeil de Mouche comments (in French) on weblogs working like neurons. A weblog links with other sites in a similar fashion as a neuron does. The links are potentials for action. Something might or might not come out of them. They might or might not be followed. They might or might not add up to any coherent picture of anything. All the incoming data to a neuron do not necessarily add up to that neuron producing an outgoing signal. But if the sum of the incoming potentials cross a certain threshold, a new outgoing signal is generated.

If several neurons are in sync, suddenly their signal starts being detectable. Multiple weblogs focusing on the same matter adds up to a noticable resonance - a synergy. That is like the concept of 'synaptic plasticity'. Hebb's learning postulate says essentially:
Whenever neuron A fires, and neuron B fires soon afterwards, the synaptic efficacy increases.
So, if two neurons are active at roughly the same time, the connection between them is strengthened.

Likewise, if several weblogs happen to be focusing on the same subject at roughly the same time, the connections between them get strengthened. For that matter, it generally works like that between people. If you and I often happen to be activated in a certain way at the same time, like being interested in the same subject at the same time, or having similar experiences, and we notice that, chances are we'll have a stronger link between us in the future. It will be more likely that I'll check in with you before others who have less of a history of being in sync with me.

But, indeed, in the human body the neurons are part of an organism with a common purpose, of making that organism function well. Whereas weblogs and people having chance encounters do not have a pre-defined common purpose. The connections perhaps serve to discover shared purposes, rather than just carrying out existing purposes more efficiently?
[ | 2003-04-13 16:00 | 4 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 The Art of Lying in Politics
picture From Abstract Dynamics William Blaze writes:
"The Bush Administration's media manipulation skills never ceases to amaze me. As the war in Iraq skewers away from the chickenhawks dream plans its starting to become clearer just how the Karl Rove media technique works. Its all pretty simple really, it can be broken down into 3 steps:

1. Keep the message simple
2. Keep the details secret
3. Never admit you are wrong

Follow those steps and you look like you are doing a good job in the mass media. Up close or under close scrutiny all the lying and bullshitting the administration engages in is pretty evident. But when broadcast over mass media it looks like the administration is right on track.

Never admitting you are wrong is the most important step. Once you admit you are wrong your words become circumspect when broadcast. Bush always maintains that things are going well, and because he never entertains the possibility of being wrong, he projects and image of being right and believable. Not everyone buys it off course, but in the mass media and winner takes all democracy all you need is a healthy percentage of the population to buy it.

Clinton used this technique as well, but not quite as deftly as Bush. Clinton's problem was the details, he was too willing to dig into them. Once the details are out its harder to maintain the image of always being right. And Clinton missed the secrecy as well, Bush keeps as much info secret as possible so there are less details to complicate the projection of being right.

Perhaps the greatest tactical failing of the Bush administration is the way they've let the success of these media techniques infect their attempts at diplomacy. These techniques work when broadcast in the media, as I said before they fail completely when used up close and in person. They just don't work in diplomacy, hence the outrageous failings of the Bush administration in the UN, Turkey and elsewhere."
He's right. Works like a charm in broadcast media, when speaking to large numbers of people who are only going to pay attention for a few minutes anyway. Works much less well on the net, where people can amplify the discrepancies. But it works horribly when dealing with other governments that most all have the intelligence resources to be able to add up the facts on their own.
[ | 2003-04-13 21:26 | 3 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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