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Democracy in the Information Age


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Politics has become so distant and professionally staged it is overwhelming our senses, leaving emotion – particularly fear – to play the role of reason. The cost of replacing community with floor-to-ceiling media is huge and will continue to take a greater toll until the voices we hear and the heads we see talking include those of members of our communities. Celebrity and representation are antithetical. Media-generated celebrity is good for selling hamburgers, not good for representing Canadians.

We have the technology to fight back, we just need the will. The best defense we have against invasive technology is local control over the information delivery system. Fortunately, that capability is designed into internet protocols. A national network of independent communities with independent MPs would work equally well, be there 10,000 nodes or ten. Every riding has the talent to maintain a node. An opportunity to participate in such a learning project would be very welcome to people of all ages. It would be a great start to rebuilding community with the sense of purpose and contribution we have lost. Having politicians represent the riding to parliament rather than parties to the riding is just one of the benefits.

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A functional democracy requires one critical element above all: attention, will and effort, where needed of the citizens. Everything else, rules, institutions, constitutions come distant second. No institution would be free of or resist corruption where there's no interest of citizens and/or will to make necessary changes.

And that is a major problem in this country. When writing a line into a dusting paper becomes enormous "can of worms" nobody is willing to touch with a stick; then no change is possible; when the only way to effect change is to write a program, allocate no less than in billions budget and pass it on to the bureaucracy, so the only change possible is trivial fixes at ever rising cost. The country has been in this fixing mode for decades, or maybe since Confederation. Even much beaver - celebrated national healthcare was not anywhere near a breakthrough among the peers (takes a minute to check the history) and has been in a permanent near-crisis mode for decades. Where citizens went to sleep democracy ages and degrades.

Edited by myata
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I’d like to see a digital form of direct democracy wherein proposals can be made by private citizens as well as MLA’s and directly voted on by citizens.  Online debates not unlike ours can lead up to the vote, along with backgrounder articles so the public can be well informed ahead of each vote.  Basically cut out the representatives and go straight to the people.  Parliament can be maintained primarily as a place to implement legislation. 

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1 minute ago, Zeitgeist said:

I’d like to see a digital form of direct democracy wherein proposals can be made by private citizens as well as MLA’s and directly voted on by citizens.  Online debates not unlike ours can lead up to the vote, along with backgrounder articles so the public can be well informed ahead of each vote.  

It's a good idea, in theory, but it needs to be designed to scale to large populations. Any ideas on that? I'd be interested to hear.

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3 hours ago, Michael Hardner said:

It's a good idea, in theory, but it needs to be designed to scale to large populations. Any ideas on that? I'd be interested to hear.

Each MP/MPP would have the online referendum/plebiscite on their riding website.  Perhaps there could be an annual or semi-annual opportunity for this.  It may eventually make parties obsolete, at least for the votes themselves, as the member would be beholden to the will of the constituents and vote accordingly in parliament without threat of party whip.  

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An MP has the time and resources to research issues that citizens do not. We elect MP's to make decisions on our behalf. Each MP represents all Canadians. There is no way the ordinary Canadian is going to have the time and resources to make an educated decision on many issues that come before Parliament. Our task, as citizens is to ensure we elect the most qualified person to Parliament. This begins at the nomination point. You find a person whom you know to be suitable, and support them in the nomination. Then, you have to work to get the candidate elected. This means talking to co-workers, family, neighbours, knocking on doors, phoning. When the writ is dropped, you canvas, door to door, identify the support, firm up the support and get out the vote. After the election, as a citizen, you maintain contact with your MP. Our system works best when we all participate. Your candidate may not win, but you have a right and a duty to do your best. A friend from Nigeria told me the greatest enemy to democracy is to take it too seriously.

Politics is supposed to be fun. It doesn't matter which party comes out on top as long as the MP's are top notch people. That's our job. If we do that right, they will perform their task of running the country. 

If there are deficiencies in our government, the fault lies not with the "system" or the politicians, but with our selves. It is not enough to vote. If you don't campaign, you have no right to complain.

 

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1 hour ago, Zeitgeist said:

Each MP/MPP would have the online referendum/plebiscite on their riding website.  Perhaps there could be an annual or semi-annual opportunity for this.  It may eventually make parties obsolete, at least for the votes themselves, as the member would be beholden to the will of the constituents and vote accordingly in parliament without threat of party whip.  

I like how you made it riding based.  That makes sense.  This report generated some excitement 13 years ago but government ignored it.  


https://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/iga-aig/PublicEngagement/2008-04Lenihanreport.pdf

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I read the preface, skimmed the content, and looked more closely at sections of interest.  I like the idea of government as facilitator.  I think many citizens today feel a sense of disconnection from government and each other.  Yes we can get involved in people’s election campaigns and get to know other like-minded people.  But after the election I think it’s easy to return to disengagement or to feel that our input isn’t valued.  That’s why projects like these are important.  

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The internet is an important tool but politics is a tactile enterprise. How can a voter make a choice without getting to know the candidates personally? As is clear on other forums, what you see on the screen is not always accurate. Some present a convincing false persona. Not on this one, of course.

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Just now, Zeitgeist said:

I read the preface, skimmed the content, and looked more closely at sections of interest.  I like the idea of government as facilitator.  I think many citizens today feel a sense of disconnection from government and each other.  Yes we can get involved in people’s election campaigns and get to know other like-minded people.  But after the election I think it’s easy to return to disengagement or to feel that our input isn’t valued.  That’s why projects like these are important.  

The thing is that government is doing almost nothing about digital, other than trying to set up agencies to stop people from spreading disinfo.  The government is populated by older people who don't understand digital at all.

Add to that that nobody, especially politicians, want more eyes on them or want to manage feedback.

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A good politician knows everybody. Brian Mulroney is reported to have had the largest rolodex in Canada. (For you youngsters, a rolodex is a list of telephone numbers.) Before he won the leadership, he spent hours everyday on the phone, touching base with everyone he knew. John Diefenbaker was mainstreaming in a small Saskatchewan town when he shook hands with a man, called him by his first name and asked how his wife was doing, by name. I think he even knew their children's names. The Chief had only met the man once before about twenty years earlier. That is how you avoid disengagement. When I moved to Saskatoon, everybody I met knew the old Chief.

 

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11 minutes ago, Michael Hardner said:


Add to that that nobody, especially politicians, want more eyes on them or want to manage feedback.

Good politicians want all eyes on them and relish the feedback. When you are working on behalf of tens of thousands of people, you need to know what they are thinking.

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1 minute ago, Queenmandy85 said:

Good politicians want all eyes on them and relish the feedback. When you are working on behalf of tens of thousands of people, you need to know what they are thinking.

Well, I think it's likely uncommon.  Also answering a poll isn't the same as creating a true 'public' with the latitude to ask open questions and drive the conversation.  

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I see the "information age" as simply indoctrinating people. With a life long career in advertising I initially thought the juggernaut was aimed at youth but I'm observing weak and otherwise helpless adults falling for it. They don't even know how they're being bought and sold. Very sad.

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1 hour ago, RedDog said:

I see the "information age" as simply indoctrinating people.

Information is terrific when it complements thinking, it's terrible when it replaces it. Unfortunately, many meetings and conversations sound increasingly like chapter and verse. It would be more convincing if the person doing the quoting knew the source and intention of the very important free information. 'Facts' are my favourite; they come complete with all the required thinking finished for you. It's like a drive-thru meal for your mind.   

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When I made a comment on an elected BC Liberal's Facebook page, that he might not like, a computer bot came onto my computer a little later and started reading every word on the screen by highlighting the word in yellow and then stepping to the next word.  I shut the computer down.  Approximately a day later a photo of himself with a police officer standing next to him appeared on his FB post.  Just coincidence or a form of intimidation/terror.  Elected officials have more power that we think.  That's the kind of democracy we live in now in the information age. 

MSN also now heavily censors all comments, deleting many and are under the control of the federal government, CRTC.  New legislation, C10 and C36, will mean even far more control of all social media comments.  New powers will be given to the CRTC to do this plus powers to fine people $70,000 plus one year of house arrest.

Edited by blackbird
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12 hours ago, Scallywag said:

Politics has become so distant and professionally staged it is overwhelming our senses, leaving emotion – particularly fear – to play the role of reason. The cost of replacing community with floor-to-ceiling media is huge and will continue to take a greater toll until the voices we hear and the heads we see talking include those of members of our communities. Celebrity and representation are antithetical. Media-generated celebrity is good for selling hamburgers, not good for representing Canadians.

 

Excellent post up to this point.

Quote

We have the technology to fight back, we just need the will. The best defense we have against invasive technology is local control over the information delivery system. Fortunately, that capability is designed into internet protocols. 

We don't actually have the technology to fight back, the leftist government controls the owners of the companies who own that technology. As a result, free speech - even when true - is being criminalized. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/covid-misinformation-disinformation-law-1.5532325

Did you see what happened to Parler when they gave the POTUS a platform to speak? Big Tech cut them off in a heartbeat. They didn't stand a chance. 

FYI CBC is a spreader of disinformation on a daily basis. For example, the amount of disinformation that came out about HCQ from the western politicians & media was legendary, blatantly false, and anyone with the internet could find incontrovertible proof of those lies within seconds. Yet these disinformers are the exact people who are calling for the right to be the fact-checking police for all of us.

CBC can lie all they want with impunity and they'll always reserve that right because they'll control the fact-checkers, and if you confront them with the truth in the future, you could very well face a fine.

Fines are one of the ultimate forms of punishment because they're issued unilaterally and then the onus is suddenly on you to prove that you're innocent. You can either take time off work to attend a trial to get out of paying the fine, or go to work for nothing that day because you have to pay their fine, but even if you do show up, you could get a judge who was appointed by the same people who appointed the fact-checkers. Then what? Welcome to China/NoKo/Iran/Russia, etc.

No one will express themselves freely in a world where the government of CBC's lackeys can just keep on issuing fines against you. You'll have the Trudeau flunkies spouting disinformation at will and no one will be able to say jack. 

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I've been (and still) on the phone with Air Canada so far doesn't look like there's a great chance of getting through. What a great epitome of the country's political system. Once the credit card is charged (election held) they both want only one thing from you (customer, voter, owner - right who bailed it with their own money over and over and yet again?) - get lost asap, and the quicker the better.

This way the country will be a jurassic park of dinosaurs both public and private, hard to tell difference.

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9 hours ago, WestCanMan said:

CBC is a spreader of disinformation

We have become so enthralled with our information model of reality it has, for many, replaced it. People drive into lakes or disappear on ever diminishing dirt paths because the GPS indicates the highway goes there. The experience of seeing the obvious and the traditional reasoning that follows presents no competition to digital information. (To be fair, sacred texts and king’s decrees predate questionable ‘scientific’ studies and facts to suit every occasion.) The same thing happens with huge walls of remarkably realistic sights and sounds in our homes and on our streets. In the binary world of celebrity politics the effect is particularly acute. Much of what is real does not get captured or distributed electronically. What does appear is a final product polished by some of the best marketing people in the business using the best equipment our money can buy.

The best option we have is to take control of our information and our politics. Olds, Alberta (https://o-net.ca/about-o-net/) and many other cities and towns own and operate their own segment of the Internet. It takes initiative. ‘Dark fibre’ is often available to circumvent obstinate providers refusing to provide links to the world at large. Sending an independent MP to represent the riding in parliament also takes initiative...as well as cooperation and a determination to shop locally. We owe it to our families – past and future – to manage what we have been given in a manner that ensures it remains in our families.

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On 7/25/2021 at 1:48 AM, Scallywag said:

We have become so enthralled with our information model of reality it has, for many, replaced it. People drive into lakes or disappear on ever diminishing dirt paths because the GPS indicates the highway goes there. The experience of seeing the obvious and the traditional reasoning that follows presents no competition to digital information. (To be fair, sacred texts and king’s decrees predate questionable ‘scientific’ studies and facts to suit every occasion.) The same thing happens with huge walls of remarkably realistic sights and sounds in our homes and on our streets. In the binary world of celebrity politics the effect is particularly acute. Much of what is real does not get captured or distributed electronically. What does appear is a final product polished by some of the best marketing people in the business using the best equipment our money can buy.

The best option we have is to take control of our information and our politics. Olds, Alberta (https://o-net.ca/about-o-net/) and many other cities and towns own and operate their own segment of the Internet. It takes initiative. ‘Dark fibre’ is often available to circumvent obstinate providers refusing to provide links to the world at large. Sending an independent MP to represent the riding in parliament also takes initiative...as well as cooperation and a determination to shop locally. We owe it to our families – past and future – to manage what we have been given in a manner that ensures it remains in our families.

The only option that we have is to acknowledge that CBC is a disinformer, and to treat them accordingly.

They can't be allowed to control social media, period. 

It's not enough to allow liberal or conservative demagogues in small communities to have their own websites, getting honest reporting/information to 4% of the population isn't a solution. 

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In a world of competing global information systems, every one delivers misinformation based on individual points of view. Those points of view are usually created by our choices of those information sources which, in turn, confirm them. CBC, which appears to be the marketing department for the Liberal Party, isn’t doing the Liberals a world of good so I don’t worry about it too much...although paying for it feels more like tithing a religion I don’t endorse than a nation building investment. We may profit more by getting our own 338 houses in order by active, in person involvement. From there we can rebuild community and networks of communities rather than having questionable two-dimensional facsimiles of reality constantly delivered to our pockets and our walls. Presently the flow of all things political is from parliament to Canada, we need to redirect that flow. Choosing new media celebrities won’t help. We need to send real people doing real things for real Canadians - all Canadians.

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Democracy is not in trouble because of disinformation on the internet. Democracy is in trouble because of the lack of trust people have in governments. And the reason they lack trust is because our politicians lie like rugs. When they're not lying they're dancing around the truth or avoiding answering questions. A representative government which doesn't represent anyone's interests but their own and which lacks honesty and integrity causes people to look elsewhere for solutions and information. 

You want better government? Pass a constitutional amendment that any politician caught lying loses their job and can never run for public office again. Confidence in government starts with having honest government. Which we don't currently have at any level.

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2 hours ago, Argus said:

1. Democracy is not in trouble because of disinformation on the internet. Democracy is in trouble because of the lack of trust people have in governments. And the reason they lack trust is because our politicians lie like rugs.

2. When they're not lying they're dancing around the truth or avoiding answering questions. A representative government which doesn't represent anyone's interests but their own and which lacks honesty and integrity causes people to look elsewhere for solutions and information. 

3. You want better government? Pass a constitutional amendment that any politician caught lying loses their job and can never run for public office again. Confidence in government starts with having honest government. Which we don't currently have at any level.

1. True, that, however people's expectations and self-focus are also both too high.  Folks are surrounded with people who think just like them so if you propose any kind of moral, economic compromise it sounds absolutely repulsive to them because it's not in their direct interests.  The effect of social media and forums like this is to magnify the degree of difference between unreasonable people - especially those with no previous interest in politics, or interest in areas outside their sphere of concern.

2. I think this is kind of a plebian perspective.  I happen to think that BOTH politicians are overpaid, undertasked and ivory towerish AS WELL AS they are not to blame for this situation that evolved due to political/economic/media forces over decades.  I agree that the system is dishonest and lacks integrity at this point, it's a pure advertising model and getting worse.  There is no 'public' anymore, there is only a market for political candidates and tastes.

3. That's unworkable, because lies are defined by lawyerspeak and all of the people at the top are lawyers.  I don't think honest government is practical, but I think a government that favours pragmatism and doesn't puff up their messages would succeed.  That means - delivering bad news, and appealing to the few intelligent voters who remain out there.

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43 minutes ago, Michael Hardner said:

1. True, that, however people's expectations and self-focus are also both too high.  Folks are surrounded with people who think just like them so if you propose any kind of moral, economic compromise it sounds absolutely repulsive to them because it's not in their direct interests. 

I don't think most people are like that. I think the media, including online, magnifies such voices to the point we might 'think' they represent a substantial number of people. But often they're just small, noisy groups. Most people are reasonable and interested in compromise if you explain things to them. Unfortunately, our politicians don't bother any more, and even if they did the media wouldn't give them the coverage. A few lines is all they get. Mind you, given how poor most of them seem to be at communicating information that's probably more than they can use.

43 minutes ago, Michael Hardner said:

2. I think this is kind of a plebian perspective.  I happen to think that BOTH politicians are overpaid, undertasked and ivory towerish AS WELL AS they are not to blame for this situation that evolved due to political/economic/media forces over decades.

They are certainly to blame for lying. They don't do it by accident. Trudeau didn't design the system which allows a snake-oil salesman like him to thrive but he certainly enjoys it. He's at the top. He can be honest. He chooses not to be. He CHOOSES to be smarmy and dishonest.

43 minutes ago, Michael Hardner said:

3. That's unworkable, because lies are defined by lawyerspeak and all of the people at the top are lawyers. 

A demonstrated falsehood can be proven. For example, his lies when denying the initial G&M story about SNC Lavlin. 

But of course, it's our fault for not holding them to the standards we ought to. A politician who lies to us - not just fails to keep a promise but tells a bald-faced lie - should never be a consideration for re-election. We're far too accepting of such behaviour. We're far too willing to just shrug and say they all lie. Until someone starts holding them to account we won't get rid of the liars. 

Of course, that's easier said than done. I'm not sure if I can directly point to an open lie O'Toole or Singh has uttered but I wouldn't doubt it. I don't regard either as being particularly honest.

 

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