Sunday, January 30, 2005

On the other hand ... don't even listen

The point of this blog is to investigate approaches to the automated anaylsis of text, so that a picture of "the color of the spin" can be seen by anyone.

But sometimes the fog gets so thick ...

Think of the first time someone colors some piece of information, or hides something, and justifies it. These behaviours mark the beginnings of a career in public relations. There have been guidebooks on how to behave dishonestly, in this way, since writing was invented. What you hear, when you hear George Bush, or John Kerry, or Vladimir Putin, or Tony Blair, or either candidate in the Ukrainian elections ... is a creature adapted to put the best possible face on what they do. To do that, they don't say what they do, or what their priorities are. Unless forced to. And when forced to, they're expert at spinning the questions away from what matters.

The arrow which penetrates the truth is simple:

Never listen to a politician. Always watch what they do.

Believe action over rhetoric.

Now, let's be practical. The current media operates in almost exactly the opposite way. There's a media rule about sourcing: if a comment isn't sourced, then it's an editorial. It's not followed strongly -- convenient shorthand is used by the press, based on certain beliefs and certain world views. Even if it weren't, the sourcing rule still gives prominence to prominent sources of news: members of the ruling class in business or politics.

The only way to make action visible is to make the institutions transparent. And that will only happen if they become democracies. That's true whether they are corporate or political institutions.


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