Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Few Thoughts Behind this Project

. . . (among others):

An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.
–Thomas Jefferson, Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Digital Edition, (1760-1799?).

Knowledge is power.
– Sir Francis Bacon, Religious Meditations, Of Heresies (1597).

A balance of power requires a balance of knowledge.

A modern economic system demands mass production of students who are not educated and have been rendered incapable of thinking.
– U.N.E.F. Strasbourg, On the Poverty of Student Life (1966).

Hatred never ceases by hatred;
But by love alone is healed.
This is an ancient and eternal law.

– "Dhammapada," Ch. 1, the Twin Verses 5, as quoted by Maha Ghosananda

There is no responsibility without freedom;
No freedom, without power;
No power, without knowledge;
No knowledge, without love.
Through the ages, the powerful have sought to limit our access to important knowledge by gaining control of the media and education and by defunding or otherwise attacking sources they can't control. In our time, the internet has become a vital “public square” for free expression, but as Lawrence Lessig observed in Foreign Policy as long ago as 2001, "[t]he innovation commons of the Internet threatens important and powerful pre-Internet interests. During the past five years, those interests have mobilized to launch a counterrevolution that is now having a global impact."

The infowar is not a war against or for any particular nation. Rather, it’s a struggle between old and new power structures over who will control information. In such times, the dissemination of truth becomes a subversive act.

And as Julian Assange suggested at the New Media Days 2009 conference, Denmark, “[Wikileaks] can't do it alone . . . We spend our efforts getting [the information] to you and allow you to publish it. But you've got to turn it into a story and make it moving to the population.”

While info can serve as a weapon in the infowar, it’s not the only one. P.r. can obscure and distort; data doesn’t inevitably empower. Sometimes it takes art to create personal, actionable insight; or, as artist William Powhida put it in What Has The Art World Taught Me? (2012):

. . . or at least, lure them toward it.

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