Brainy Quote of the Day

Friday, November 3, 2017

Filter and Subtext...

Chinese translations for significant, meaning, connotation, denotation, import, gist, substance, significance, signification, implication, suggestion, consequence, worth, nuance, association, subtext, sense. Image Source:

Topics: Commentary, Internet, Politics

When I was dating my wife and living in Austin, Texas, I saw an article in the Austin American Statesman that concerned me (I think it regarded a subject in science the author was completely off-base on). I wrote them and got promptly rejected with a reply from the editor. The editor liked my reasoning and sentence structure: I was over their 130 word limit. I was invited to rewrite and resubmit my points within a 10-day window, otherwise it wouldn't be considered. I sent my edit and it was printed. It scored me bragging points with my then girlfriend (she's still with me, amazingly).

The editor was a filter, not just of grammar and syntax but what represented the Statesman as far as policy, their editorial standards and business model.

I will post on this Google/Blogger platform. Any points I make will have associated links I will give attribution to. The only editor is myself.

The Internet as we know it was a product of science and ironically (or perhaps these days, apropos) The Cold War. Leonard Kleinrock wrote a white paper in 1961 entitled "Information Flow in Large Communication Nets." At the link provided, there is a timeline of the Internet's evolution that preceded my awareness of it (I encountered it as DARPANET, but apparently Queen Elizabeth sent the first email when I was in high school in the seventies). It's not surprising that MIT et al universities were involved as for any Pollyannish vision of education being unfairly influenced by corporate interests, that's been around for some time as well. War fighting was on a "hub-and-spoke" configuration (think wagon wheel): the main headquarters was usually at the center of any military deployment, talking to their distant ends through microwave, troposphere scatter and satellite. As a lucky - and stressed - communications/computer systems officer, I was usually at the deployed headquarters, i.e. the "hub" where I would have likely gotten nuked.

The first efforts amounted to text messaging on Zenith computers with HUGE deployed mainframes: things you do with your phones now. The Internet is a wonder, but unlike the Statesman's editor, it lacks a filter.

Several generations from humble beginnings, the Internet Service Providers and social media companies do not want a filter as existed (and I assume still does) for the Statesman and other like media, albeit dwindling. The flaw of an open society is the fact it is open. Vigilance bordering paranoia has to exist to protect a federal republic - the hen house - from ravenous wolves without and within.

I am not advocating a tiered Internet, a removal of net neutrality.

However, the inevitable consequences of removing the traditional filters of discourse is where two technological advances - television and Twitter - have placed our republic in the hands of a chief executive that displays Internet addiction and the impulse control of a prepubescent, our inanity personified.

Related links:

Tech Executives Are Contrite About Election Meddling, but Make Few Promises on Capitol Hill, Cecilia Kang, Nicholas Fandos and Mike Isaac, NY Times
How Russian-Backed Agitation Online Spilled Into The Real World In 2016, Miles Parks, NPR
Fiery exchanges on Capitol Hill as lawmakers scold Facebook, Google and Twitter, Craig Timberg, Hamza Shaban, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post

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