Monday, 18 May 2015

EVER WONDERED WHAT THEY WERE SMOKING ????

I've not been posting as much on my blog these days, since I have better things to do with my life now rather than be mentally stuck in my past as life moves on.

However, I cannot resist posting this article which is further confirmation of what I have often criticised the cyber Utopians for over their starry eyed belief that the Internet would "free people from the domination" of large vested interests, claiming that it "levels the playing field" between the big monopolies and small independent operators and gives all an "equal voice" in cyberspace.

This article also confirms what I have said all along that free markets tend towards monopoly, just as water everywhere seeks its own common level in the sea.

When the Internet first became available to ordinary users back in the early 1990s, cyber Utopians touted it as a means to our "liberation from the tyranny of large media corporations and governments", much like how the hippies in the 1960s believed that love, smoking pot, long hair, wearing tie dyes and rock music would herald world peace and the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of humankind but look around the world today and you will see how opposite the world is from that Utopian myth, even though it was a nice and noble thought.

It is no different from the belief that the advent of the printing press empowered mankind to speak truth to power but today we often hear complaints and lamentations about how mass media is controlled by fewer and fewer more powerful hands.

Sure, many people like myself no longer read mainstream media or watch TV these days but rather turn to the Internet and blogs for our news and information and many mainstream newspapers have declining  circulation, readership and shrinking advertising dollars but are the powers that be which rule over us any less powerful, do they listen to us or do they just let us bark our heads off online, whilst they quite literally fart in our faces and carry on with business as usual?

For example, how much have the thousands of voices criticising the U.S. and European imperialist wars against small countries done to prevent their governments from stepping up their aggressive military campaigns in the Middle East. After all, whilst the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stands for the freedom of citizens to peacefully assemble and protest, it does not require governments to listen to the protestors and comply with their demands, so governments let their people protest peacefully and ignores them.

Was it popular opposition which stayed U.S. imperialism from attacking Syria or was it the threat of Russian military retaliation should the U.S. and it subservient poodles had attacked Syria militarily?

Well, now things have come full circle and writers for publications like Common Dreams are complaining about how Facebook is dominating the Internet and acting as a gateway for media organisations which partner with it. So it's the same old story now as with the printing press and broadcast media, especially in the west, which has long been in the hands of the few big and powerful interests.

The printing press invented around 1440 was supposed to have undermined the power of the Roman Catholic church and its priests by making the Bible available affordable to people in their native tongue instead of Latin, so they could read, understand and analyse the Bible for themselves rather than rely on priests to do that for them. Sure, at first the Catholic Church opposed Bibles printed in non-Latin languages but soon decided it better to go along and come out with versions of the Catholic Bible in people's native languages.

I have not been able to obtain figures on the number of Roman Catholics there were worldwide back when the printing press was introduced but the over one billion Roman Catholics in the world today are twice the estimated world population of 500 million around the year 1650, which is ample proof of "great achievements" the invention of the printing press did in "undermining" the Roman Catholic Church and the printing press' techno-deterministic "power" to enable the "toppling of the old and heralding of the new".

Oh! Let us not forgot the hype and hoohah about the Bitcoin crypto-currency being the "alternative" currency which will "liberate" humankind from the tyranny of the crisis-ridden establishment global monetary system but it did not take long for the crisis-ridden establishment global monetary system to co-opt Bitcoin and turn it into just another currency amongst the many on the global currency market, replete with all aspects of the capitalistic market speculation inherent in the crisis-ridden establishment global monetary system which Bitcoin was supposedly created to undermine but became a part of.

And yes, another of the latest "solutions to the world's economic woes" which also "empowers and enables individuals in the face of government tyranny" is 3D printing.

Hey look sunshine! 3D printing is not new, though it has come a long way from those super expensive laminated object modelling (LOM) and stereolithographic 3D printers I saw operating at SIRIM in Shah Alam and which I wrote about in several articles about 15 or so years ago. Back then, academic researchers and small to medium industries could rent time on these printers at SIRIM to create prototype models of their products being developed.

The only difference today is that there are newer 3D printing technologies and 3D printers have gotten much smaller, cheaper and within reach of the mass market, hence the current hype, hoo hah and hulabaloo over 3D printing.

It's the same with the current hype, hoo hah and ballyhoo today over big data analytics which has been around for well over 10 years now and which was used to sequence the human genome in the Human Genome Project completed in 2003. The only key difference is that back then, big data analytics was done using very expensive super computers costing millions but today it can be done on off-the-shelf commodity servers costing around several thousands of ringgit each, hence the excitement over them now and not back then.

Thankfully, the cyber-utopians haven't got onto the big data analytics bandwagon to tout some ridiculous techno-deterministic nonsense about how big data analytics will "liberate humankind from the tyranny of the state", "enable the global brotherhood of humankind", "herald world peace", "create a heaven on earth" and so forth. On the contraty, big data analytics further enables governnments and corporations to know more not less about individuals and to achieve greater control. 

Anyway, where are those paperback writers who touted the "information and services society", "third wave", etc. today, now that the U.S. and world economy is stuck in the scheiss haus?

Welcome to the real world folks, as we look right in the face of a cruel reality not foretold by these paperback writers who held starry eyed idealists in awe whilst opportunistic management "CON-sultants" think about how to make money from the number of paying butts warming seminar seats as long as the "sun" shines, until the penny drops and their old assumptions are debunked by reality, and until the next hot sounding management buzzword or fad comes along and the hype, hoohah, bullshit and ballyhoo roles on and on as old wine in new bottles.

Well, history to repeat itself again and again, never the same but neither entirely different with each return, just as the river you crossed on the way to work in the morning is neither exactly the same nor entirely different from the one you cross in the evening on your way home from work.

Now you see why I call myself IT.Scheiss and earlier "HiTekHeretik" and I'm sure the cyber Utopians would love to either crucify me or burn me alive at the stake for speaking such heresy against them.

After all, for them it's a matter of "if you are not with us, then you are against us".

The Common Dreams article follows below.

Yours truly

IT.Scheiss.

http://itsheiss.blogspot.com

====================================

Published on
Thursday, May 14, 2015
by Common Dreams

The Feudalism of Facebook: New Pay-to-Play News Feed as Indy Media Killer

'The basic problem is that Facebook is trying to become the Internet'

by Sarah Lazare, staff writer

The Facebook empire of 1.4 billion users just conquered new territory, unrolling a "partnership" to host articles from some of the most well-known news publications in the world, in a venture that critics warn poses a direct threat to independent media outlets—and the future of the Internet.

"The basic problem is that Facebook is trying to become the Internet, so that it replaces the distributive, cooperative model of digital communication with a centralized, privatized system where a for-profit company controls all the levers of the way that we transmit information," Jim Naureckas, editor at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), told Common Dreams.

"Knowledge is literally power, and to have all that power concentrated into one company's hands is really a kind of feudalism," Naureckas added.

As of Wednesday, the company's new "Instant Articles" will directly feature stories from The New York Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, The Atlantic, NBC News, The Guardian, BBC News, Bild, and Spiegel Online. Under the platform, the entirety of a news article will appear in Facebook's iPhone app. The perk, according to Facebook, is that the article will load "ten times faster than standard mobile web articles."

The New York Times says that "news publishers can either sell and embed advertisements in the articles, keeping all of the revenue, or allow Facebook to sell ads, with the social network getting 30 percent of the proceeds."

Facebook is also allowing media companies to collect data on article readers "about the people reading the articles with the same tools they use to track visitors to their own sites," explains the Times.

"When you hear Facebook explaining what they are trying to do it sounds innocuous," said Naureckas. "They are trying to speed up the loading of articles on people's Facebook pages when they use cell phones. But the means of doing this is to subsume all content that people are receiving under this one company's control."

Analysts say this control raises numerous problems.

"Any time Facebook acts as a gatekeeper to all content on the Internet, it raises concerns, not only because of their blocking procedures, but also because of the algorithms they use, which effectively give Facebook control over the content that gets featured," Timothy Karr, senior director of strategy for Free Press, told Common Dreams.

Karr added that the deal could strike another blow against independent media: "If they are prioritizing prominent news outlets, it only goes to figure that less prominent media organizations get pushed down."

Writing in anticipation of the deal in April, Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, pointed out that the company's filtering algorithm "has increasingly turned into a pay-for-play system from news organization. Want more people to see your content? Then 'boost' your posts by shelling out some money. This already has turned Facebook into something of a two-tiered content sharing system, where the rich will inevitably see their stories go 'viral' (if you can even call it that) much faster than will the poor."

"How will its algorithms handle stories posted directly to Facebook that question Facebook’s monopoly status?" asked Timm. "How will it handle news organizations questioning its lobbying ties with the government?"

Even the news companies that signed onto the venture expressed reluctance and resignation. According to Times journalists Vindu Goel and Ravi Somaiya, the deal concludes "months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power." They add: "Facebook’s role as a powerful distributor of news makes many people in the industry uneasy. The fear is that it could become more of a destination than their own sites for the work they produce, drawing away readers and advertising."

James Bennet, editor in chief of The Atlantic, echoed this sentiment, acknowledging that the deal with Facebook means "losing control over the means of your distribution."

But the deal is just the latest expansion of Facebook. The launch of "Instant Articles" comes on the heels of Facebook's revelation earlier this month that it is unrolling Internet.org—an effort to bring the web to the developing world as a Facebook-owned entity. The plan has been widely criticized as a bid to further privatize the Internet while jeopardizing the rights and privacy of users.

According to Karr, Facebook's Internet.org raises even more concerns about the company. "Facebook is not the Internet," said Karr. "The Internet is a place where Internet users have control. Facebook often presents itself as a portal to Internet, but it is not open in the same way."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/05/14/feudalism-facebook-new-pay-play-news-feed-indy-media-killer

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