I received the following email on the GLT list from Matthew.
Date: Tue Feb 18, 2003 12:01:37 AM JapanI think the key phrase is "War is a serious issue and needs to be treated with a little more respect". This war is a VERY complicated issue. In fact, it is a COMPLEX issue. It highlights the fact that our representatives CAN NOT understand or communicate the issues. The attention span of the mass media is like the movie Memento and can't remember what it was saying a few minutes ago. It is a structured process breaking down as a chaotic world engulfs it.
Subject: Truth, Childish Behaviour and War
The French maintain that Saddam is "a spent force", the Americans are saying "millions may die"; both leaderships have access to the same data on Iraq, but the statements are contradictory. Maybe neither is lying, but surely the "truth" is more than the mere absence of a lie? Doesn't the "truth" means telling things the way they really are without distortion or exaggeration? The lowest point for truth in the Iraq debate was the UK's "intelligence report" which contained bits of an old doctoral thesis pirated off the Internet (with the language altered slightly to make it more exciting).
A London magazine had this to say at the weekend "As war approaches, it will be safest to assume that every statement issued by Washington, London or Baghdad is absolute nonsense".
2 Childish Behaviour
To make things worse, Western leaders have started to use the language of the school playground to describe each other and their respective countries.
War is a serious issue and needs to be treated with a little more respect, I think this is the main reason why 5 million people protested against war on Iraq at the weekend.
I argue in my emergent democracy paper that maybe blogs will enable a process of demoracy similar to the way ants, slime molds and brains "think." The difficulty is that we humans think we're pretty smart and don't trust things that we can't understand or think for ourselves. That's what trust is for. You have to think locally and trust that everyone is doing that. Then you can build a network where no one node knows the whole of it, but it works. Dee Hock who writes about chaordics designed the Visa network to be this way. So if you're an ant, how do you know if your colony is smart? I guess if you're happy, that's a good sign. How do you measure emergence?
Maybe this war is a good opportunity to test whether the war blog debate, the mass media debate, the UN debate or the US government's own internal thinking is the smartest. How do we measure this? I guess you can't... but maybe we can examine the "quality" of the debate.