Verdict: Internet is Not a Medium for Thoughtful, Civil Discourse

Civil Beat announced their closing down their comments section. What’s interesting is that they’ve tried different software/methods, but none have really lead to civil place for thoughtful discussion. This jibes with my experience on a variety of different comment sections and discussion boards online over a twenty year period. (The Atlantic also recently shut down their comments section.) To be clear, thoughtful, civil discourse is possible on the internet–I have definitely participated in this–but it is very rare, the exception to the rule. This is really disappointing and sad to me, because I expected that the internet would provide more opportunities for this type of discourse. My sense is that this building a place where this type of discourse is the norm is too costly, and those looking for this type of discourse have to go to places where the majority of conversation turns the site into a cesspool.

(One question. Both Civil Beat and The Atlantic are keeping FB discussions alive. Are discussions more thoughtful and civil there?)

The Nature of Free Speech in the 21st Century Information Environment

I would like Mitchell (and Don or anyon else) to discuss the following Wired article: It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech. I think it touches on some of the issues that Mitchell and I have been discussing, while bringing up insights that we may not have specifically and explicitly addressed. Here are some passages that stood out for me: Continue reading “The Nature of Free Speech in the 21st Century Information Environment”

What Does Information Security Mean in a Democracy?

My understanding is that authoritarian regimes take information security very seriously. To these regimes, information security involves controlling information that can be a threat to the regime–e.g., information that reveals corruption or violation of human rights. But democratic countries should also care about information security, too–albeit using a different definition. In democratic societies, I think information security should involve protecting public discourse from malicious information warfare, while ensuring that accurate information plays a central role in the discourse. Who will be doing the “protecting?” In my view, the independent press will play a key role in this, and possibility academics and think-tanks. Here are some quick thoughts about this: Continue reading “What Does Information Security Mean in a Democracy?”

Favorite Film Directors Right Now

This idea popped into my head a couple of months ago when I wondered who my favorite directors are right now. I’ve played around with the idea a lot since then, and decided on these evaluation criteria:

  1. A living director’s three most recent full-length, fictional films.
  2. If I’ve only seen two of the three, I’m allowed to go to the fourth-most recent, but no deeper than that.
  3. The major factor is the average of my Criticker ratings for the three films.
  4. Carrying less weight but still a factor: my personal preferences for a director’s other decisions.

Still a work in progress, those criteria, but it’s what I’m working with for now.
Continue reading “Favorite Film Directors Right Now”