Internet and Democracy debate

Just been watching an interesting debate at FORA.tv. The debate was on how the internet affects democracy in the hands of its users. This being the people or the masses.

Lets look at the for and against on the topic of how the internet affect democracy.

debate

For

1. We have those who use the internet themselves and set up facilities to encourage people to use the internet as freedom of speech. Here they feel that this is the main idea of a democracy where people can get to use their voice.

2. We have those feel that the so called experts of the old communication medium, being the newspapers, radio and TV make mistakes and so this leads to people looking for other opinions on the internet.

3. We have those who feel that it is too hard for the ordinary public to express themselves on TV, radio and older sources of communication. They feel that you would have to be rich, famous or exceptional to be heard and thus the internet is a great source of expression and creativity.

Against

1. We have those who feel that the internet is getting over satiated with information that after a while the quality of the information goes down.

2. We have those who feel that the internet can not be fully trusted because it is in the hands of those who produce information that cannot be viably trusted.

3. We have those who feel that the internet is a dangerous weapon against democracy, because it allows the power of mass media and communication in the hands of the uneducated.

Who are those against?

Farad Monjoh and Andrew Keen

Who are those for?

Jimmy Whales and Micha Sifry

My View on the debate

I have not fully finishing watching the debate, but I am leaning on the side of the Internet being no threat against democracy, but that does not mean that there are no dangers. Why?

It is true that the Internet is much content that cannnot be easily viable, but then this can also be the fault of the researcher or user who does not look for more than one source of information. There are also those within our society that seek to use the Internet to spread rumors and lies, but then this can be done with other forms of media. Still, the Internet can allow such false information to spread rapidly.

But what of the dangers of those who seek to control the Internet?

Well for instance, what if our so called experts decide to dismantle the internet because they feel it is a tool that is too dangerous for those who do not understand the notion of freedom or the responsibility of producing correct information?

Well my blog here would go! Does it mean I have a set agenda to destroy democracy? No! That is not my agenda, my main agenda is to share what I have learnt. I could be wrong in what I know or I could be right, but if I have no channel to express myself, then I would never be heard. There will be no debate and no one would learn anything.

There are plenty of countries out there that will curtail peoples freedom in the name of that the Internet is too dangerous a tool and it will cause chaos in society, but then is this in the name of democracy? Somehow I do not think so.

I feel democracy itself has allowed the Internet to appear, if this was not the case then the Internet would have never been born in the first place. Democracy is more than a form of government, it asks for inventiveness, creativity, expression and opinion for the people and by the people. Democracy is rule by the mob and cannot easily be protected by the elites who feel they know best. The internet can be dangerous for not just one form of government, but for many forms.

Still who is to say that democracy is not any more dangerous for those who live by this form of government?

At the end of the day, the internet or any form of government are just tools that are meant to better our lives, but what really counts is the agenda of the individual or the masses who use the tools.

You can watch the debate here

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The Self under Siege

We have a nice lecture today. This one is another course from The Teaching Company series; however it can be viewed from YouTube, since I tried to find it on The Teaching company site, but nothing doing. This course is called “The Self under Siege” taught by the late Rick Roderick.

Rick Roddick

The late Rick Roddick

The lecture I want to talk about today is lecture 2 “Heidegger And The Rejection Of Humanism”. You know of Heidegger right? I mean Martin Heidegger, the influential German philosopher whose studies into Phenomenology led to the growth of the philosophy movement called Existentialism, which is the study of being and how we tackle our existence in the world.

Phenomenology is the study of consciousness, reflection and how we perceive things, although close to psychology its main aim is to reflect rather than be too scientific. This has led to many criticisms of this philosophical school, but without a doubt Phenomenology has opened up many areas into the subject of being. Jean Paul Sartre examined Heidegger ideas and produced his own theories on the subject of being, areas of psychology and AI. Hiedegger’s ideas led to the impressive Existential movement from the 1950’s.

Martin Heidegger

Martin Hiedegger

Jean Paul Sartre (the famous French philosophy) had read Heidegger’s famous and lengthy book “Being and Time” and was impressed by its subject content, which was no easy feat, Being and Time is around 600 pages, is full of abstract words in German that have double meanings and at times can be dry.

Going back to the lecture, its style is easy on the ear. Rick guides you quite easily through a difficult subject and tries very hard to get us to relate to Heidegger’s main theories. One of them is the problem that we are thrown into the world and must learn the rules in order to get on in the world and as soon as we are struggling to adapt we then realize not only do we suffer, but we die.

We will be thrown out of the world. YIKES!!

Rick does not pull any punches with this lecture. He is most critical of institutions that adhere to Heidegger’s terms of rulemaking. It is like we become lost in the world and we must do things that we do not like to do in order to continue to live.

Heidegger’s life choices were not so great either; did I forget to mention he was a member of the Nazi party? Oh hum, well not so easy to wipe that slate clean, still he was a genius if not a tainted one.

Rick makes folly of those who wish to live forever and states that death will come, but although we fear death, we should embrace it. As Rick mentions in this lecture, who wants to be a 90 year old running up a treadmill? What is the point of that? You see death gives our lives meaning, it makes us see that since our time can be short, our choices become critical. Still, even fearing death is important, not only because it gives life meaning, but it’s what makes us human. We are conscious that death will take us, but we must realize our being.

Heidegger moves onto some solutions on the problem of existence, he states that we need to become authentic in order to give our lives the meaning we cherish, but Rick becomes most critical of such a solution, which you will see if you view this lecture. I will not tell you why Rick is critical of this, so please view the lecture on YouTube. Some YouTube files actually have the whole course, so if you’re brave you can watch the other lectures Rick as produced, those being on Habermas, Sarte and the postmodern greats such as Derrida and Foucault.

One thing I have noticed about the lecture is Rick assumes you know a fair bit about some of the philosophic ideas, but again he will get you to relate to some of the issues and pulls no punches. Rick at times may stray from the subject, he will often become humorous and make jokes. Yet in a nutshell, Rick says it as it is.