Instead of writing a 3000+ word post, I've decided to break up my current subject -- "thoughts on the Information Age" -- into a couple of posts. I suppose this notation is for any new readers, since all returning readers had presumably read the previous post and are caught up on the matter. Unless, of course, there are returning readers who read the title of the prior column and said "Part I? Who needs that? I'll just wait for Part II." In that instance, I could see the need to be brought up to speed.
When we left off -- this recap is for everyone who is just joining us today -- the beloved Ducks guy was A) taking on Time magazine, B) taking on Facebook and C) heroically trying to save the village from the clutches of the evil overlord Azromodo, while at the same time taking an internal voyage to discover himself and understand his complicated love/hate feelings towards his estranged twin brother.
"Wait, I don't remember that last part at all!" (Okay, between you and me, that's just to encourage new readers to go back and check out Part I.) "But isn't that false advertising?" (Perhaps, but this is my blog and... Hey, what's that up there! Oh my gosh! I've never seen such a strange thing before!! Wow. Now, where were we? Oh, that's right. You were just telling me how much you love Ducks Out Of A Row and how it's the most important literary creation ever. That's very kind of you to say. Thank you.)
So, if you recall, I think that the Facebook kid is getting a bum rap from Time magazine by being compared to Hitler and Stalin, but that doesn't change the fact that I don't like his invention. I place considerably more weight in authentic relationships and a lot of people view FB as some kind of popularity contest or something. If I remember correctly, I had read an article wherein some people put together a completely made-up profile to see how many people they could get to "friend" it. I don't remember the details, but it was a lot.
Note: In spite of strict Ducks policy not to conduct actual research, I did perform a quick search to find the article, but it was fruitless. (Maybe I shouldn't have been looking for fruit?)
Anyhow, the premise of the Facebooks is to allow family and friends to connect and share information, which is fine and all, but when we start adding friends of friends and people we think we've heard of… then what exactly is the point?
Enough recapping! We have further issues to delve into...
My idea to share thoughts about the Information Age stemmed from two different sources initially (and then was added to by something else I had read in the interim...). The first, obviously, was Time's proclamation of Mark Zuckerberg as "Man of the Year." (Still think they missed the boat by not giving the title to me, but whatevs.) The second was the result of something I was listening to on NPR.
(Yes, I listen to NPR, says the man who sometimes raps old Ice Cube songs, rocks out to Rush in his car, and references: The Baha Men, Dancing With the Stars, Kriss Kross, "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," the 80's film "Twins," Katy Perry, and other random pop figures, movies, shows and songs.)
(Yes, I'm complicated.)
As one would probably imagine, WikiLeaks has been a popular topic on NPR lately (along with the Ivory Coast's disputed presidential election, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and Oprah's new hairstyle.)
The other day, the good folks at NPR had two men discussing WikiLeaks and how transparent, or not, a government should be. I think this is a great topic because it offers the opportunity for a lot of different viewpoints and intelligent discourse, without presenting the threat of being shot like I was back in '95 when I made the claim that Tupac was a better rapper than the Notorious B.I.G. Being the trooper I am, I was back on my horse the very next day, blogging about my experience and then tweeting it to my millions of followers at the time.
I think the two poles -- there are usually poles for any issue -- in this instance are 1) governments should be completely transparent or 2) governments don't need to be transparent in the least. (I'll let you guess which side governments like those in China and North Korea probably fall on...)
From my years of experience at life -- and, let the records show, I have literally decades’ worth of experience at "life" -- the best method is almost always somewhere in the middle of two poles.
That being said, government would be completely transparent.. in an ideal world. Open communication is always the best policy. The complicating factor, though, is the fact that this world is not ideal. There are people out there who simply hate other people and want them to die. This mostly stems from either complete ignorance or misguided faith. But saying that there are "people" is not substantial enough. There are entire governments and/or very large organizations who want others to die.
With reality being what it is -- not all people behave the way they ought to -- governmental secrets need to be kept. I can understand the notion that perhaps exposing secrets can help create open communication, but that is naive idealism. The fact of the matter is that doing so has the distinct possibility of putting lives at risk.
There is no reason to ever unnecessarily put lives at risk. The human experience is certainly richer than "just surviving," but survival is one of the goals. Technically-speaking, there should never be a need to take someone else's life.
(That being said, I fully understand the fact that "should" and "is" rarely seem to agree. Case in point: One should chew food with his mouth closed and not chomp and smack like a horse or make disgusting slurping noises, especially if he has a cubicle neighbor with a blog. But just because one "should" doesn't mean that one "does." Hypothetically-speaking, of course.)
So I disagree with the decision to publish the WikiLeaks information from a security and concern for the safety of my fellow human beings standpoint. Keeping with the title, I don't feel it is right for everyone to know classified information. Yes, it'd be great if we lived in a world where governmental secrets weren't necessary, but I think they are in this particular case.
That being said, there are definitely sources of information that should be available to the general public. These include such vital matters as: financial records, Congressional voting records, court documents and the President's March Madness picks. Beyond that, it'd be great if there wasn't a need to hide military or covert operations from the general population, but that falls in the whole "should" category.
(Just like I "should" be wrapping this up right about now, which I am.)
(Well, every once in awhile "should" and "is" are the same thing...)