On the control of information

Jeff’s latest blog post serves as a landmark. A quote from that post is relevant as an opening to mine: “Information control isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a confession of weakness“. It’s profound. It reaches well beyond the small world of Scientology. It captures all venues of human interrelations, politics, Wikileaks. It is also relevant to The Scientology Forum – the forum I erected a year ago and since some months has been run by Claire.

Lighthouse

One of the premises when I put up the forum was to make it a place where Scientologist could feel safe when discussing Scientology – safe from exposure to Scientology’s confidential upper level material. Although there is plenty of evidence that exposure to such material is not dangerous, the belief that it may harm you could serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy, a reverse placebo. In any case, the forum was set up so that posts be moderated before they appeared. Very, very few posts have been deleted, but some have been modified to keep within the Rules of Conduct.

At times the forum has been an interesting place for real debates and where new ideas have emerged, giving birth even to a whole now branch of philosophy, the KHTK. But the control of information by what Hubbard calls “inspection before the fact”, i.e. screening has strangled the flow of information to a mere trickle. The moderation introduces a lag in the communication and that in itself is detrimental to lively exchange of ideas.

I asked the forum if it is time to reconsider the moderation policy.

Although I would want to see a civilized forum for discussion of Scientology (I see no reason to change the ROCs), the moderation takes the life out of a forum like that – and there are other examples that points to the same.

The current affairs with WikiLeaks has highlighted the need for openness even better. Because WikiLeaks is good – for transparency, for democracy. Just like Wikipedia is good and the Internet itself is good. Sure, both the Internet and Wikipedia had gotten its share of criticisms, but hell anything that is disruptive of the establishment, of the status quo will earn criticism. Because Man’s deepest fear is of the unknown – and because one thing that any change is bound to bring is a dose of the unknown.

I believe in open communication and the free flow of ideas. That is why I support the Internet, Wikipedia, free software, free culture, Transparency International, Amnesty International, the EFF and WikiLeaks. And this is why I oppose patents and Copyrights as control mechanisms.

Instead of shielding people from ideas and communication, one should seek to help people handle ideas and communication better. Ideas and communication are inherently difficult to control, and all to often abuse follow in the wake of such attempts.

Information control isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a confession of weakness“. Intentions to strengthen oneself on behalf of others underlies such weakness. In a truly free society, there is no space for government secrecy, information manipulation or hiding of truths.

Light itself is a great corrective. A thousand wrongs and abuses that are grown in darkness disappear, like owls and bats, before the light of day“. —James A. Garfield.

28 thoughts on “On the control of information

  1. I don’t think there is a ‘best’ way of running Internet forums, or in the wider sense any discussion. Some manage fine with no moderation at all, others could not survive without it. There should however be transparency about how that moderation is done – I have come across forums that are less than open about what posts they are blocking.
    And some people will always complain. If people aren’t complaining, you aren’t doing it right!

    ‘Information overload’ is a problem that has itself generated a lot of information, shelves of books offering methods of managing the valuable time of busy people, ‘executive summaries’ for self important VIPs, ‘abstracts’ for scientists. ‘Cliff’s Notes’ for students. It is I would suppose one of the shocks faced by those exiting the Church, stepping out from a censored, often self censored, environment into the real world where there is so much to take in. How do you distinguish between the real and the fake, when you still have at the back of your mind the belief that wog tools don’t work?

  2. Bravo! Bravissimo!

    I wasn’t aware I had a near “Perfect Duplicate” inNorway.

  3. Wiki-flowchart: Start with the answer, ie Ethics-Tech-Admin. Thus, paragraph/point 8 becomes point 1:
    *Ethic/Intention/Policy:
    1.: “Instead of shielding people from ideas and communication, one should seek to help people handle ideas and communication better.” – thus the rest of the article flows better.
    Hartley Patterson says: 2010-12-01 at 20:14: “There should however be transparency about how that moderation is done – I have come across forums that are less than open about what posts they are blocking.” – when you say something has been moderated, give a link to the best hub for what people think on if it should be moderated, a link to help for dealing with it, and a link to the moderated material itself: “Although there is plenty of evidence that exposure to such material is not dangerous, the belief that it may harm you could serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy, a reverse placebo.”
    *Tech/Ability:
    xyz ‘Ethics-Tech-Admin’ wiki-flowchart indexing ie gives State Of The Art (SOTA) keywords so you can get up to speed on finding answers to questions. Currently without key words you cant connect to answers. On/off clickable option (for an extra clarification level on text) to number and entitle (ie ‘Chapter and Verse’) all photographs, paragraphs, sections, pages, sites, hubs, internets, etc: “http://www.petitiononline.com/TWIG/petition.html – an Ethic around which a Tech and Admin ie lore/law/civilization etc can evolve: ‘The’ petition would be to develope an on/off clickable option to number and entitle paragraphs, sections, pages/links, sites, hubs, networks, etc (for example: http://sene.com/woim.pdf, etc), into an intuitive ‘Ethics-Tech-Admin’ wiki-flowchart of your info ie linked, not lost, data: everything in every reletive context, ‘xyz’, etc, by which we get lore/law/agreement/intelligence/cirtainty etc, which Search engines dont as clearly provide. Historically for example one of the things considered reletively important is this: http://www.jayweidner.com/Archons.html, etc. This would highlight priorities/red-flags such as Deepwater Horizon etc automatically before they could become a problem: Civilisation ‘2.0’, etc.
    If you agree this is a major ethic any civilisation along infinities shores should proclaim, to survive things such as the Archons etc, then sign this petition.
    Thanks, G.
    http://about-interface.blogspot.com/ – Windows 8 will have a 3Dimensional interface/potential wiki-flowchart, with the release of Kinect/Project Natal towards the end of the year, etc. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Kinects-Israeli-partner-sees-apf-2323075394.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=main&asset&ccode
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/IBM-Develops-Fastest-zacks-2554541053.html?x=0&.v=1 – 5.2 gigahertz IBM chip.
    http://yourfirstserver.com/2010/07/04/virtual-reality.html/ – under ‘Applications’, 3/5ths down the page: “Interaction with info: An on/off option to number and entitle paragraphs, sections, pages, sites, hubs, etc
    Google: TheWhyIsGod (all one word): 180 posts to LiveJournal, and dozens of comments to Facebook posts.”
    *Admin/Expansion:
    http://uncensored.co.nz/2010/11/07/happy-dolphins-update-on-hutchison-lazaryan-frequency-generator-clearing-polluted-gulf-waters/ – etc – ie the answers/freedoms delivered. ARC=U is generally the Grades, KRC=Power leading to Freedom is generally the OT levels. ARC/KRC run in parallel, etc.

    1. At ESMB, to some degree, the moderated posts are moved to another area. They still exist for people to see. They are just not on the thread where they were thought of as causing distraction. This feature can be further improved on ESMB. Otherwise, ESMB is not very much moderated.

      However, I do find ESMB to be dominated by a certain mindset that is not to my taste. That mindset may be the average among ex-Scientologists.

      .

      .

  4. Moderation would be there as long as there are advertisers, spammers and off-topic posters. This blog is moderated, isn’t it?

    .

    1. Yes – this blog is moderated because it reflects my points of view (although I have deleted only pure spam on this blog and corrected perhaps two gross spelling mistakes) – but a forum will do better without the “inspection before the fact”.

  5. I was quite disappointed when I’ve seen an opinion poll in Germany that showed nearly 70% opposing the current leaks of the diplomatic dispatches, and 52% opposed to Wikileaks.
    You can disagree with people taking issue with the way Wikileaks is run. I don’t understand though how people can be opposed to the concept of Wikileaks itself. Most of these people are not the people that are harmed by their publications, on the contrary. Revelations like these are the only way corporate and government abuse, which serves only a minority of a society, can be laid bare for public scrutiny, at the benefit of the majority.

    The very same thing that keeps Scientologists in the fold, is applied by politics in many countries that call themselves “democratic”, the US being a leading example but it’s happening in Europe, too. I am very happy to see that the internet however has leveled the playing field a bit there.

    1. This mass control in effect. People in power have had a long time to manipulate the citizens – by PR, information control etc. And this is why people oppose that which threatens their “secure” source of information.

    2. There were leaks always in the past… it is just that Internet makes those leaks available broadly very easily and almost instantaneously. It is just this nature of Internet that has exposed Scientology also. Hubbard didn’t figure on there being an Internet.

      Discrimination between what is sensible and what is nonsense also becomes more important in this age of information.

      My take on OT materials is that it an effort to run one’s case on a via. One is not running somebody else’s case at OT levels. One is simply running the lower grade levels on onself again and again on a via. A better job can be done by running lower grade levels on oneself using the KHTK approach.

      .

        1. Hardly anyone did. So why should Hubbard?

          I recently watched some “How we’re going to live in the year 2000” show from 1970. It was pretty far away from reality in its predictions.

          Only shows that it is nearly impossible to envision new technologies that are further away than a few years.

        2. It is obvious that he did not see the future (at least so precisely…) I would not say he should but as certain he was in the technology and in the Bridge I guess that would be correct to expect.

  6. Great move Geir. Honestly, I think the number of people who haven’t heard the big secret in the confidential materials are so few in number that it doesn’t matter.

    And nobody is dying from it as you stated.

    And the odds of them going from the Communications Course to OTIII without hearing it is slim and none.

    MAN OFF THE STREET: “What religion are you?”
    SCIENTOLOGIST: “Scientologist.”
    MAN OFF THE STREET: “Have you heard of ((CONFIDENTIAL MATERIAL))?

    That said, mods could probably just have a person periodically delete offensive posts after they are put up. Once every two days would probably do it.

  7. The minute I heard of the Wikileaks situation and saw a terrified Hillary Clinton, shuddering through missed withhold phenomena, I knew that the leakeage of this information was probably more likely to PREVENT war and suffering than to cause it.

    If everyone’s withholds on earth suddenly became known to all mankind, especially the withholds of those in power, we would have peace, mercy, sanity and forgiveness…….instantly.

  8. What are new technologies of the future? That is an interesting question. I have my predictions.

    The Industrial revolution of a few centuries ago lead to the Electronic and Nuclear revolution, which has now lead to the Information revolution. This information revolution is still unravelling as we find with the Wikileaks revelations. The world of politics is not the same anymore. There is an explosion in terms of access to information. It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain secrecy. All those institutions that have survived and flourished on the basis of secrecy will find it hard to exist in their current form. Witness Scientology… witness politics. I wonder what other revelations are waiting in the wings. The face of the world is going to change. I just hope that it changes for the better.

    The next revolution is already in the making. It is the revolution of rapid analysis and understanding. It is going to be a move toward simplification. It has to happen looking at the current explosion of information. In which direction this will take us, I don’t know. But SIMPLIFICATION is visble to me on the cards.

    .

  9. Nice post, Geir.

    I agree fully that information control is an admission of weakness.

    And WikiLeaks is totally my hero.

    Alanzo

  10. I’m with you guys! TOTAL transparency would put ethics into the powers that be…How many crimes would occur if they KNEW they would get caught?
    A free internet is VITAL to world peace….Copy rights could go away too…information should be free to anyone who wants it…………….Peace……………

    1. I think there is nothing wrong in Copyrights. The problem is “Copyright-abuse” out-exchange from the part of the Copyright owner when the charge for a certain item is way too much. If you spend time to write a book or music you would like others to buy the book, cause if they just copy it electronically and give away you go broke and instead of writing books you will sell cars, shoes and vegetables which are more solid and can’t be copied yet (at least in a way like books).
      This main problem is not Copyright which is connected to money of course but the finance system which is established on the circulation of money and the way of the abusive way of the circulation.

      1. There is something wrong with copyrights: That someone can have certain powers over something you have bought and own – to police this presents big problems. These problems would vanish if one would drop copyrights but still retain creditrights or Rights of Attribution.

  11. Some information does not belong to everyone. If you buy a Christmas present, you do not tell at all but give the present at Christmas.
    If there is sincerity and positive intention, positive human values behind the “secrecy” than – and probably this is the only case when – the secrecy is authentic.

  12. @2wolfes: “TOTAL transparency would put ethics into the powers that be”, “How many crimes would occur if they KNEW they would get caught?”…
    Are you 100% sure? Well, in my opinion “transparency” and “crimes” in your comment’s context are 2 knives with 2 cutting edges.
    Speaking about intellectual property, let’s forget about software, let’s put the problem in a harder way. Uranium…
    It’s vital for nuclear bombs developing, which is a process that needs a lot of…hmmm….”copyright”? :)))
    We cannot pretend “transparency” to be allowed to everybody.
    As a citizen of this world, I feel much more confortable to share the secret of the atomic bomb with Norway, which is a civilized and democratic country, instead of Syria or Venezuela, which are extremely unstable regimes.
    In conclusion, doesn’t matter if it’s Uranium, Linux, bio food or electric cars, every single discovery which can provide progress to this world have to be very careful shared. Not everybody have good intentions and not everybody deserve to be trusted.

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