Diplomacy vs Community Moderation – a better tomorrow for our net

March 24, 2009

What do I think about the recent proposals of liberalizing online political films? Are the amendments to the Films Act substantive or is it just cosmetics? Did AIMs do a good job of bridging netizens and the goverment to create common ground and understanding?

To be very honest; I think all this is a wasteful diffusion of energy – if I had to sum up the whole deal in one sentence, it will be this:

“What has been given; would have been taken away by technology anyway”

In other words,  its a bit like some con man selling you a lease to breathe all the air on this planet – it ONLY makes sense, if what’s striven for has real value – the problem is, I don’t think it has any real intrinsic value – so I really don’t want to waste time going down that road – let’s move on.

This clip I have posted is a long one – but trust me it’s worth bearing out, if you’re really interested in the subject of looking for a better way to seed the good and drive out the bad from our internet. You could just as well apply it to the business of managing yourself and others or even decide to retrofit some stuff to make it work for girlfren 101 management as well.

What’s my point? You don’t need to be Phd (permanent head damage) to understand why diplomacy is so important when it comes to grappling with something as vexing as the internet – usually, when we talk about positive change;  it’s basically the same motiff of one man talking and the crowd listening –  its a one way street – one that even amplifies the us against them divide – as it’s a top down process – that’s one big reason why I dont believe community moderation under ANY configuration will ever take off – not as a concept – or even a working proposal – it suffers from too many affectations that it inspires i.e it’s premised on the whole idea of preaching from the pulpit –  in many of my discussions with stakeholders in the net, especially with the gaming community; one thing remains patently clear – any proposal that TALKS DOWN is doomed to failure  (please see the clip and find out why) – what’s seriously required if we are really sincere about building a better internet for ourselves and our children is a Nixon in China moment – we need to relook at many of our working assumptions – like how are we getting on top of this problem? What are the things holding us back? Along with perhaps getting a handle on bag issues like  credibility, online anonymity and folk who are bent on a spot of mayhem.

My feel is for too long, the same  traditional  set pieces feature in the debate often with less than desirable results – all too often, the same concerns are raised; the same issues are thrown out and the same solutions  come into play – result:  is it such a wonder we seem to going around the same merry go round?

To me this has to be a fom of madness – insanity even – someone just needs to shift gears – and move out from this vicious cycle – as there’s something fundamentally wrong with the whole equation –  what’s beginning to emerge for me at least;  is a need for a paradigm shift –  FIRST  respecting the rights (real or imagined) of the blogging community needs to occupy a position of primacy in the whole discission i.e autonomy and fundamental freedoms – whether they are right or not is not the issue; that has to be the start line that we need to work on – they must first be put on the table and not with slippers and umbrellas some where near the front door.

I don’t believe standing on a platform and proclaiming that online anonymity is an illusion serves that greater imperative – it may well be the truth; but how well does that go down with the internet community? Allow me to paraphrase, lets say: a diplomat went around the UN and told everyone that Africans are a bunch of degenerates who don’t know how to manage money and opportunites – how successful do you think he will be in influencing others?

That simply underscores the overwhelming importance of diplomacy – that’s really the whole plank of my essay – this is not on snap shot on what should we build? As it is a take on, how we  should build? And the  real goal is positioning oneself to influence others – this requires a deeper understanding and respect for the rights to privacy and respect for the needs of the more vulnerable groups of society who may still feel the need to keep anonymous – their motivations are irrelevant here – what’s important is we keep to the ideal and principle.

The social stability needed for productive growth is nurtured by conditions in which people can readily express their will in our internet. For this, the ideal of recruiting the diverse claims of netizens are essential. Promoting such institutions means promoting the empowerment of those who we may not even agree with or see eye to eye – my feel is this diplomacy forum offers both policy makers and netizens alike an opportunity to seek out common ground – on the table are a host of subjects that most of us can readily grab and run with – deep listening skills,  image, comportment and congruence are just a few to mention. You really need to bear out the length of this forum for yourself to seek out those gems – as for me, I have gone through it at least then times!

So if you happen to be a school teacher, homemaker, manager, policeman, minister or even a really dumber than dumb person like myself – this should go down like silk without frying your brains.

In  a nutshell the whole logic of using diplomacy to make our internet a better place turns on the idea of leveraging on conversations vis-a-vis diplomacy as a means of bringing about change rather than resorting to stick and whips strategies – like community moderation.

As many of you may already know I am not a very big fan of community moderation – infact, I think that’s a pariah dog idea –  only because I believe for anything to really work on the internet –  it first needs to respect netizens rights to be hear along with perhaps paying homage to their sense of scale and how most of them see the world – you don’t need to be very clever to figure out – one reason why the government seems to going around in big and small circles, is because they haven’t figure out this one simple but very important rule of e-engagemnt.

The shift bears out only too clearly these days when we see how the world is trying to heal itself from nearly a decade of corrosive Bushims that has really fractured, dividing and sharpened enmity in people right across the globe;  squeezing out, what I call the happy ground – and leaving very little in the way of common ground.

Its really a case of you are with me or you are against me; you are credible or you are incredible – my gut feel tells me, it doesn’t have to be like that at all.

Is it such a wonder; a new conviction is increasingly being fostered and nurtured by a new creed of statesmen, among nations large and small, to  regain the great objectives of building a better world through diplomacy –  here the shift is  subtle, but nonetheless fundamental and instead of maintaining international peace and security at the cost of having to tolerate human rights abuses e.g Guantanamo prison – these statesmen are increasingly speaking the language of the “ethical” compact – where people themselves are empowered to do the right thing – it matters little whether it’s the idea corporate honcho’s having to give up their bonuses because their shareholders think they dont deserve it – or  how might and firepower alone can never be seen as a substitute for diplomacy which increasingly gives equal rights to smaller nations even when they decide to face off against bigger adversaries – what we are increasing witnessing here is a shift in power from those who used to control and monopolize it as a means to an end to a general loosening to empower those who were once powerless  – to me the idea of using diplomacy as a way to crave a better internet is far wiser than resorting to cattle prodding community moderation – as the real question can never turn on whether the internet should or must be regulate? – as it remains – can we really afford to do just that (play police and thief); if what we really desire is a better internet?

My views on this subject remain very firm;  ANY system that proposes a top down approach is bound to fail in this age – and in this sense diplomacy offers us a new standard of how this great opportunity to change can come about – my gut feel tells me – this is one very intelligent way to make progress – it should never be squandered.

Do bear it out, if you have the time –  one way of swallowing this down is not to do it whole – how do you eat an elephant? Cut it up into little bits- what I do is download it all into my ipod and listen to bits of it when I drive to work – its a real joy to listen and learn from the real elites  – click on the change.

Darkness 2009

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