Thursday, March 30, 2006

people-powered photoshop

Glenn Reynolds and Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas all have new books out about, as Reynolds puts it 'people-powered politics'. Among the substantive criticisms of both books, chief for both is their dependence on broad themes and the consequent lacking of the mechanics of blogging or online political activism in either the individualist Army of Davids or the collectivist Crashing the Gate (to use the terminology from the Salon article). For each book, their are pointed individual criticisms on philosophical grounds, such as Majikthijse's criticism of CTG for being too-focused on criticizing consultants while sparing politicians, while taking them to task for their view of pro-choice lobbying groups. Or, this criticism of Reynolds by the authors of 'Who Controls the Internet':
This is what I would have liked to have seen more of in An Army of Davids: an assessment of how technologies also empower government and large firms. For every story about how a blogger beats big media or how "studio-on-a-shelf" threatens big labels, one could tell a story about how governments and corporations are growing larger and larger and are using the new technologies to collect and use information to control individuals.
But neither book serves as a suitable primer, especially with the ever-shifting technology. Clearly, the force of the internet for 'people-powered politics' will need more than hardbound manifestos, but perhaps actual hardware and software. Consider the power of VoIP to cheaply boost the power of the plain old telephone system, as we will show below. John Rogers is, among other things, a screenwriter who wrote an adaptation of Warren Miller's Global Frequency. In this series, of which only the acclaimed pilot was produced, a thousand people spread throughout the world have a super-powered satellite phone/tricorder. They are bound in a techno-social network which can be activated in order to solve crises around the globe. For instance, in the pilot a fugitive scientist is leaving a trail of mysteriously mutilated bodies in downtown San Francisco. The investigation and resolution require the services of various members of the network, including physicists, translators, neurologists, hackers and one badass former spy.
So I am tickled pink with Mr. Rogers' comments on the recent forged pictures of Bagdhad by Republican congressional candidate Howard Kaloogian:
"You are on the Global Photoshop ..."
I don't tend to get involved in local hoo-has but for my charity stuff, but this is interesting for its example of the hive-mind power.

Apparently down 'round San Diego, they're having a special election to replace Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham -- you know, the fellow with the bribe menu. So a return to integrity and honesty is kind of an issue down there right now.

One of the candidates is this Howard Kaloogian fellow. His "Moving America Forward" gang is one of thise lovely scrums where they take a couple reporters, get driven around the Green Zone in a Hummer, and then scream how it's all peaceful in Iraq. I am sure those 14 beheaded guys they found today are finding it very peaceful.

Even more reprehensibly, this is the sort of rhetoric he spews, as the caption to a photo of beautiful, peaceful downtown Iraq just a few months ago:

"We took this photo of dowtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism."

As I always say -- name one. Name one journalist who says America shouldn't fight terrorism. But, at this point, just typical kind of boring, lazy crap ...

... until somebody noticed that there was no Arabic script on any of the signs. And the wardrobe was off. The taxi seems weird ... hey, wait, is that Lenny Kravitz?

Within three measly hours, the hive mind had figured out the pic is probably of somewhere in Turkey. How it happened is what fascinates me. People found addresses for the "2.Noter" sign (a quite specifically Turkish notary office). They found the Turkish ice cream company, Edo, and found Turkish speakers -- at 4:00 am in their time zone -- who could confirm what those fragment words meant. And pictures of Turkish taxis with their oddly placed gas-caps. One person went on Skype and hustled up some complete strangers in Turkey who spoke English, sent them the photo and dug up some opinions. When somebody pointed out that the location might be Kurdish, and simply mislabeled, a person who spoke both Kurmanci and Turkish pointed out the exclusionary differences making it unlikely.

Hell, one person even hunted up the local cement plant that made the street planters for municipalities in Turkey, and posted pics showing those distinctive planters and benches. Right now, the little bastards are tracking down all the local Turkish newspapers to see if they can ail down the actual intersection.

This reminds me of a time on this blog I posted a question based solely on an anecdote of an incident that occured in a recent foreign election. The answer was posted before I could even check to see if my post had gone through.

I preface this with a caveat -- I may be foolishly assuming that Mr. Kaloogian did not find the absolutely most Turkish section of Baghdad, Little Istanbul, so Turkish indeed that not only do they use mostly Roman letters but absolutely no Arabic -- well, if that's the case, then , all apologies, sir. As a matter of fact, I will donate $100 to your campaign if this is indeed Baghdad, for I will have wronged you.

But if not, then, well, your vicious mendacious criticism of people who disagree with you is somewhat lessened in righteousness if you have, indeed, prevaricated, in a particularly heinous manner.

This is why I can never run for public office. I was a stand-up. My shit will come out.

and this follow-up post:

Global Photoshop #2
Yep, we've got confirmation HERE. Scroll down, 6th picture of the poster named Faruk, pinned down by this person. It's a suburb of Istanbul.

So, first -- wow. I need to get those damn phones made up.

Second, the Republican candidate for CA-50, Howard Kaloogian, who is looking to replace a corrupt Republican official, who is screaming and moaning about the media lying about Iraq --

-- has posted a picture of Istanbul and telling you it's Baghdad in order to lie to you about Iraq. He lied to you and assumed you'd never find out.

He lied to you about pictures he took on a truth tour.

If he'd just posted the picture, or just posted the snarky comment, it would be unremarkable. But this, the combination of self-righteousness and then lying in order to justify the self-righteousness -- this is a sign of amorality so impressive it borders on sociopathy. I don't live in that district, but I gotta ask the Republicans who do: you really think we need more guys who are lying to the public and fooling themselves about the situation on the ground in Iraq in Congress? In power?

Party identification that important to you? Only by not voting for guys like this will you ever get your real Republicans back. You know that.

(NOTE: Apparently, Kaloonybin is blaming his webmaster for putting up the wrong photo. Ah, the rogue intern excuse, always good. But it I may, this can all be cleared up easily enough -- just post the photos of happy, bustling Baghdad you DID take. That's all.

Not. Going. To Happen.)

Ok, those phones are definitely possible and that would be a powerful people network...someone at Samsung or Nokia must know about this.

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