Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Calling out the Symbol Rulers

Korzybski told us that "those who rule the symbols rule us." In the upcoming issue of ETC, we present a new feature, "Calling out the Symbol Rulers," in which we hope to provide ongoing information of use in evaluating and challenging the statements of our rulers. Here's one contribution to that effort.
In the past few years, we have seen a huge blossoming of both "citizen journalists" and funded on-screen and on-line commentators, each with an opinion and a story to tell. Between the changes in media ownerships laws and the ever-widening use of the Internet and camera-cell phones, we get a lot of news about the source of which we know very little. Whose reports do we believe?

Enter Disinfopedia. Based on the uniquely Internet-based web page mechanism known as "wiki", this site evaluates media campaigns and invites readers to join in the effort. The introduction states that the site started as "a collaborative project to produce a directory of public relations firms, think tanks, industry-funded organizations and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests."

In keeping with the wiki philosophy, anyone who views a page can also edit it. Wikis manage this potentially chaotic feature by self-government. A community of dedicated participants monitor changes to the site and reverse or flag those that appear malicious, capricious or just plain incorrect. But this doesn't amount to censorship, exactly, because both a change to a page and its correction remain available to anyone interested enough to view the page's history.

The site offers not only reviews of political statements and media campaigns, it also provides tutorials on how to evaluate such statements and research their underpinnings. This link- and information-rich site belongs on your favorites list.

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