Sunday, November 30, 2008

Olamic obloquy...

olamic adj. - infinite, eternal [obscure words]
obloquy n. - abuse; disgrace. oblocutor, n. one who denies or disputes.

It seems that politicians are becoming even more worried about criticism, about being found out: how dare the plebs write about high and mighty politicians and how they waste spend taxpayers' money. A story that has buzzed the Belgian blogosphere is spreading quickly: at TechCrunch we're told that "When Everyone Is A Blogger, Nothing You Say Is Off The Record" (great photo at the bottom of that post!) where Robin Wauters mentions how the Belgian Minister of Defense Pieter De Crem was observed on a binge in New York with his entourage of civil servants in tow, bartender Nathalie Lubbe Bakker blogged (in Dutch) about their visit adding that the Minister had gone to NYC knowing full well his meetings were cancelled but that he decided to take the trip anyway...all paid for by taxpayers of course. This has led to a chain of events, including Nathalie being sacked - she has since written a post re free speech - and also De Crem having to explain himself to his Belgian Parliamentary colleagues a speech during which he took the opportunity to go on the offensive and is recorded as saying:

I want to take this opportunity and use this non-event to signal a dangerous phenomenon in our society. We live in a time where everybody is free to publish whatever he or she wants on blogs at will without taking any responsibility. This exceeds mud-slinging. Together with you, other Parliament members and the government I find that it’s nearly impossible to defend yourself against this. Everyone of you is a potential victim. I would like to ask you to take a moment and think about this.

This 'dangerous phenomenon' where everybody is free to post the truth? Where it's nearly impossible to defend yourself against the "mud-slinging" that is others' knowledge of politicians' abuse of power and position? This hint about the need to control blogs is nothing new: the EU has already been in debate re controlling blogging but do we really want to go the way of certain not-too-free societies? The blogosphere should not be seen as a threat, it should be seen both as a source of information (checking sources is becoming very easy and nobody would/should take anything as 'Gospel' without at least double-checking) and of criticism, hopefully constructive; as Robin says and I wholeheartedly concur:

People, and especially politicians representing them, need to wake up and smell the coffee. The world is changing, and blogging is now a big part of it, with all of its good sides as well as its bad ones. Live and learn. The sooner you get the hang of social media, the more you’ll see the opportunities in there rather than the threats.

Politicians from all/any parties and from any country, especially in government, should never really be trusted (without public knowledge/consent) to claim they act in the people's interest (or their country's national interest) when they confuse it with their own political interest.

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Paul said...

I think free speech without responsibility is a bit like taxation without representation. That said I think providing nobody has been libelled anything goes, blogs are much better than messageboards for getting across a more detailed view of a particular subject. I also agree with Danny Baker who said that the Internet has given people access to more knowledge but hasn't actuallt made them any better informed or clever. Look at the fuss made by The Telegraph last week about 'stealth tax' N.I increases - it was nothing of the sort, it was there on page 194 of the budget speech - the problem was that the journo in question based all his knowledge of the budget on the bullet points printed on Wednesday in his paper.

I've approached my blog writing from the same direction as I did when I used to do more 'serious' writing, from the front. No seriously my blog is my opinion, if I use other people then I must be confident in the facts, if I quote facts then as you say Span you must use more than one source. I also agree with something Gildy wrote ages ago and that's about retaining the right to edit and change opinions rather than offend somebody I know.

Span Ows said...

Good reply Paul; especially the 1st line! (the rest is OK...hehehe) I also agree that people aren't more clever but IMHO they are certainly better informed, perhaps what DB meant was what people do with that info afterwards.

I hope I apply to what you say in your second paragraph...I do know I have edited a post when I got a reply from the bloke I called a was one of the beebs newsnight editors!! Funnily enough he didn't moan about what I called him he just explained what he had meant and he did it in such a way that I decided to take back my heat-of-the-moment prose...I'll try and find the post, it was re a Michael Howard interview so probably pre DC...but maybe not!

Span Ows said...

Found it...18 months commented too HERE In the days when others used to post :-(

Paul said...

Span you're replies were posted on the same day that the 5Live board discussed the report stating that people are lonelier and the change in communities - I think the net is exactly the same, hence the fact that fewer people post on other people's blogs or even their own. I read a survey in The Times online page a while ago that said we only visit about twenty sites regularly after the first flush of cyber enthusiasm, so perhaps the Internet really is a virtual version of the real world in more respects than we realise.

Of course this could all be rubbish caused by too much rain on my bald head.

Span Ows said...

I can believe all that (no, not the last sentence!) I have almost exactly that number of 'routine vists' but it leaps as each new 'event' hits us be that political, social, whatever as I tend to visit - or more acurately I'm led to - other sites. Another post of mine (also ages ago, that I won't bother to look up) was a survey on just this subject in which I came out as mildy the Internet.

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