Can We Afford To Mess Around With The Internet?

November 28, 2007

I am sure it’s all over the grapevine by now – a government committee is out to compile a report on the internet…gulp. As usual, it’s a development that has generated considerable consternation in blogosphere – some have labeled it, as yet another attempt to control and regulate the internet, they want nothing to do with it! Others feel real or imagined. This is just another ploy to cower wayward bloggers to behave or else…… The oblique threat is clear, we live in a world of implications. So now you know the facts of life! 

This throws out the question, how wise is it for the government to even attempt to regulate the internet? According to Darkness, the question is fundamentally flawed as it assumes blindly the government is in position to bring about positive changes. He believes it should be paraphrased under the following terms: Can the government even afford to tamper with the internet? Do they even know what the cost of doing so is?  

One concern that has been highlighted repeatedly by the government is the feral nature of the online community – it appears, real or imagined, there’s a need to balance the diverse interests of society when it comes to issues of sex, nudity, violence and terrorism. While no one doubts there is a need to balance these elements. The main issue remains a matter of degree?

As the Ancient ascetics who worry no end about the prospect of threading where angels fear to tread will say, 

“String it too tightly and it will snap. String it too loose and the Sitar will simply not play.” 

At the crux, it begs the question; where exactly is the sweet point that yields the perfect balance between widget space. Yet maintaining the desired control features to ensure the new media doesn’t run wild?

This turns on an examination of what is meant by “appropriate” and “acceptable” content – is it even malleable to lend themselves itself to compromise?

Much of what we consider “appropriate” content isn’t so different from how many of us may view the whole issue of homosexuality – it requires us to take stock of the undulating contour of neo conservative, middle moderate to the progressive. 

Question: Where’s the best place to plumb the “appropriate” content line? How does the government attempt to even find that happy balance between progress and maintaining control?”  

According to Darkness, if the key issues seems reminiscent of the 377A debate, that’s because the same set pieces feature, albeit with one important difference. In this case, even if policy makers decide to plumb their line of acceptability on the socially “acceptable” median scale, it may very well be a social success, but technological failure! According to him that’s the main difference between the 377A debate and any debate concerning regulating the internet, they cannot be treated with the same formulaic approach – as the latter isn’t only about fulfilling the criteria of the moral majority as it is about creating the right conditions for the internet to take off!

Darkness goes on to say: while the theory of statistical accommodation may have been successfully directed to the issue of homosexuality without incurring much in the way of socio-economic fall out. Profiling anything along the same compromised lines to the internet will not be so straightfoward.

As regulation can only serve to narrow the ambit of content creation, it’s bound to sabotage creativity and innovation in the long term. Besides, ‘bracketing’ anything is just censorship and it’s bound to generate its own disenchantment – one needs to ask: Where do these discussions eventually find themselves spilling out? Yes (you guessed it) in the internet. So one is back to square one again! 

One of the reasons why the internet scene in Singapore remains such a prolific domain is because both policy makers and state inspired institutions such as the media generally do a lousy job of provisioning for alternative voices in the wilderness! Hence water finds the course of least resistance – the internet. According to Darkness this ‘inconvenient truth’ must be first recognized as a strategic pre-condition for there to be any real progress, if the imperative is to create a “better tomorrow” in blogosphere.

How else can one account for the fact, the internet continues to be a public square for self expression? That it’s even often referred to as a “parallel universe?”

Neither does he believe increased regulation necessarily brings about a safer world – the argument that regulation stamps out extremism remains unconvincing. As extreme ideologies only take root in the absence of liberal discourse. The assumption here is where there is an intellectual vacuum i.e an absence or low level of discourse concerning any issue. Then radical elements will simply step in to start building their lexicons. That’s one of the contradictions of attempting to regulate the net. It just drives everything underground beneath the level of scrutiny and detection – that just creates, the right conditions for something like an evil brotherhood movement to spawn. Not like our BS variety that claims to be the best kept secret in Singapore that everyone reads regularly during their lunch time break! Again we back to square one!

The divide between conservatives and progressives will ensure even the most brilliantly crafted datum of “acceptability” remains at best controversial. Resorting to instructional and directional guidelines with the threat of punitive measures to stop them from straggling each other may prove effective, in the short term. However in the long term it also means institutionalizing and perpetuating the divide. Besides it makes lousy case from a return on energy curve, “regulation anything” is just too labor intensive, inefficient and hit-and-miss.

It makes more sense in the long run for policymakers to buy into the notion of devoting their energies towards understanding: why the net has evolved in the way it has to assume it’s current version, adopting such an approach would bring one closer to identifying the causal links accounting for its current shape and form. Rather than wasting energy on defending and protecting individual rights by regulating . 

The logic isn’t so different or novel as to suggest even for one moment it qualifies as an original line of thinking. If we really consider it on its merits, it’s just an extension of the concept of globalization.

Globalization compels all of us to accept the reality we can no more undo the internet and return to the cottage industry. There is a finality to the equation that negates all possiblility of choice.

In this decision nexus we are left with no option other than to surrender ourselves to the inexorable effects of globalization by re-defining how we may choose to live, work and play. Why then do we continue to insist that the new media should necessary abide by immersing itself into the old and inherited ethos of command and control? When we don’t even seem to apply the same logic to the political, economic, socio and technological changes this new order brings with it? 

Doesn’t it appear ironical that we may even be progressive when it comes embracing every aspect of globalization. Yet remain inexplicably bovine and unimaginative, when it confronts us directly in the form of the new media? Which after all is nothing more than an accretion of globalization?

This is where it is important for policymakers to seriously consider crafting a strategic vision which will allow values to migrate to meet the challenges posed by the advent of the new media.

At the heart any strategy that proposes to bring about “good” requires the appreciation, the net is not something to be feared to the extent it should be shaped towards conformity to assume what it should be, rather it should be understood for what it has to be (warts and all) for it to remain the internet.

A failure on the part of policy makers to appreciate this paradigm shift will simply mean. We will languish while other countries barrel ahead and seize new ground in this brave new world – the stakes are high, very high indeed.

“They cannot use the same arguments as 377A, the formulaic approach, in the name of the moral majority and all that nonsense – they cannot this time, because money, opportunities and jobs features in the decision making process and it would take an incredibly stupid man to mess around with a machine that he does not even understand! They will do nothing, only because the mathematics of reason tells them the cost of doing so is impossibly high!  Hey, why do you think even the politicians don’t want to touch it with a barge pole? That’s why they created this committee. Understand this Senators and the Guilds! The internet is no longer a child that it used to be. You mess around with it and it will bite back in the same way our failed eugenics program in the 70’s resulted in today’s dismal birth rates, we are still paying big time for this social chernobyl! – who in their right mind wants to go down in our brief internet history as the man who killed the machine that changed the world? [laugh]. Tell our foreign allies in the international gaming network to remain calm, rest assured the spice will flow.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSV9S2Ol3bc&feature=related

Darkness 2007 / 3 days ago in the Interspacing Senate in Primus Aldentes Prime.

(By Scholarboy, Astroboy & Harphoon / Politics / Internet / Socio – EP 994397 -2007 – The Brotherhood Press 2007) 

[Pls Note: A significant part of this article has been extracted from a recent emergency sitting in the Interplanetary Senate in Primus Aldentes Prime – check this out!

The Terrible Cost of ‘Regulating’ The Internet

Publication Date: November 30, 2007

8 Responses to “Can We Afford To Mess Around With The Internet?”

  1. dotseng said

    Hi Darkness,

    May I ask why doesn’t the Bro send a diplomatic delegation to talk shop, isn’t the internet important?

    My mother is cooking prawn mee this weekend and it would be nice, if you can make it.

    I have invited a few of my close friends over.

    I have tried to contact you on the com-sat, but my mail keeps getting kicked back.

    Take care

    Dotty

  2. dotseng said

    Hi!

    I need to buy a car! So I have settled on a few choices, Suzuki Swift, Honda (the small one can’t seem to remember the name) and Toyota Vios. Can someone pls advise me pleeeeeeeeeze. I know nuts abt cars and it’s my first purchase so, I really don’t want to make a mistake.

    I need it basically for to work and back again. I don’t really have heavy needs, but I do quiet alot of charity work, so on the weekends, I usually ferry around old folks to go the market and that sort of thingy.

    I would really appreciate it, if someone who is really street wise in moddy vechs can sort of lend me some tips.

    Regards

    Dotty

  3. dotseng said

    Hi again,

    Just to update you all on the visitor count.

    We are getting about 70-80 hits a day from the Singapore Daily.(smack tq)

    About 400 from google.

    Roughly abt 500 to 700 from fav hits.

    On average we get about 1,200 to 1,500 hits from the open / on the SLF the figure is quite consistent. I have been informed only KOHO can release this figure (do you chappies really need to be so secretive?)

    Dear readers, do check out many of the excellent articles in the Singapore Daily OK

    Ciao

    *smack*

    Dotty

  4. pumpman said

    vios good space, fuel consumption and affordable. The mid range version offers great value for money, not much in performance, but for a girl thats ok. Swift is already dated and Honda is in for a model change soon, so I will go for a vios given the budget.

  5. astroboy said

    Dotty,

    If you top up a bit abt 10K you could get a parallel import made in Japan Toyota Corolla 1.5 litre. I have a class mate who works as a sales manager and can get you a good deal.

    The new VIOS IMHO suffers from quality issues and I don’t really believe it offers much in terms of value.

    Borneo Motors seems to be bringing in the low spec models and they have gutted much of the goodies, so although it is a new car, it still lacks many features that are commonly found in new cars like:

    keyless entry, side airbags. Also the tyres look a bit skinny, doesn’t have the feel of a real car, but the corolla is very solid.

  6. passerby said

    This article is so powerful, it’s mind blowing. For one it cuts out everything that is unnecessary hype, spin and all that crap and just tells you what is – brilliant!

    Harphoon is one of the best writers in the brotherhood.

  7. flowerpuff said

    Great work! As usual hard hitting, but well supported, like an eclair, hard with a softy center. I would have thought Darkness would take this opportunity to engage the authorities head on. Personally, I believe, it may be a good idea to share resources and work with them. However, as I understand it, he seems to harbor the opinion, they are so far of the mark, doing so will simply be futile.

  8. chocolat said

    what’s the point of having one of the best education system in the world and they don’t even trust their institutions to produce thinking people in the interest of society? what’s the point of greater excess to lofty knowledge and then limit its expression for fear of wrongful influences? what’s the point to believing that the family is the basic building block of society when they don’t even trust the parents to guide, teach and lead their own to become useful citizens?

    what can be shaken will be shaken. and a kingdom that can be shaken is not worth building let alone defend.

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