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>> Possibly, but just saying he is crazy is more likely to
>> make him believable where such things are believed.
>When dealing with the more crackpot-leaning arguments there's really NO WAY
>to avoid giving them creedance with any sort of comments; neither for nor
>against. One need not even leave the XML backyard and gaze upon the mess
>that is RSS for a fine example.
Actually, there is. Debunk them with the facts. Some you cite below.
Others require more analysis. Then it is a matter of motivation.
>> The web has a funny habit of denying things are possible that
>> prove to be very possible.
>I'd argue this is true regardless of being on or off the web.
Yes, but the topic is web technologies in his article. We can't
sweep it off the table because the web is increasingly the focus
for getting information and for analyzing it. Analysis of superstitious
systems is where I got on this boat. We've not done a credible job
of teaching the system how to filter, and I don't think that gets
>> Over time, the amount of effort required to
>> secure web resources is proving inordinately expensive.
>If you'd use a less-than-sweeping generalization you might stand a better
>chance of that argument holding water.
At no time in history have the computer systems vendors, the financial
institutions, the federal government and others been so engaged jointly
trying to solve the problems of securing interoperating systems. That
and the increasing numbers of incursions, identify theft, phishing,
and so on make the case by demonstration. It's a real problem.
>> 1. He names names. One of them is a frequent contributor
>> to this list. That's bad.
>Oh hardly. It's nothing more than an attention grabbing ploy. It's little
>more than attempting to tarnish the image of 'known names' in the hopes
>their credibility might rub off and somehow give the article currency. As
>the saying goes, you can add any amount of ice cream to horse manure and
>it'll never be called good, but add the tiniest bit of horse manure to ice
>cream... Seems he's trying to add his manure.
It is actually the best source for refuting his arguments. Those are real
people with real systems and real deployments. What one shouldn't do is
let those go unrefuted. Then the aggregators will do damage because of how
querying works. That is what feedback-based amplification is about and how
superstitious belief and behaviors are promoted. It is a side-effect of
observer-centric systems of analysis. That's Semiotics 101. Any marketeer
or propagandist knows this.
>> 2. He insinuates RSS aggregators are used in Federal elections.
>> Not as far as I know.
>No, they're not. I'm in Washington DC and have a reasonably clear view of
>uptake RSS tools are gaining. We should be so lucky.
That is a good statement of observable and testable fact. Use that. The
conclusion is opinion. Resist that in this analysis.
>> Maybe other aggregators are and if so,
>> is his scenario implausible? Probably. Impossible? No and
>> that is why this kind of article gets legs.
>No, it's attention from that those should know better or are just looking
>for a salacious angle.
No. An aggregator doesn't know better. It vectors word combinations. So
does the human memory as far as I can tell. One offsets that with other
more powerful vectors so one should carefully analyse and understand how
power works in scaling systems. Local politics can be individually
by local means, but the large politics obey power laws.
>> 3. He cites the ChoicePoint fiasco. That is a big fiasco.
>And has no relevance to elections.
>> Don't know if they use RSS aggregators.
>Doesn't matter if they do.
Only if one wants to refute the larger assertions that RSS aggregators
are inherently dangerous. I think they aren't except insofar as they
are widely deployed. Otherwise, aggregation is itself the problem.
>> They do aggregate
>> and they were bilked but by a social ploy, not a technical one.
>> Still, we've all seen the power of the comment lifted out of
>> context and put into a fertile field.
>Given fertility by whom?
>> It is better to debunk than to deride. Again, he is citing
>> tech that is pretty dear to the people on this list and the
>> web is a fabulous promoter of superstitions.
>No, PEOPLE are fabulous promoters of superstiions, the medium has nothing
>do with it and never has.
Not so. Aggregators obey power laws. The information feeds back into
local systems and systems with global reach. GIGO.
>> Loco conspiracies
>> are often accepted until debunked, and true conspiracies are
>> sometimes outed by loco sources.
>Not often enough to justify this article's claptrap.
Keep an open mind. What you are repeating is the precise arguments
made against the reporters at the Washington Post in 1972. Always
keep an open mind.
>> The dataMegaMarts are a real problem but that is a separate
>> issue from that blog.
>Exactly, the abuses put forth by Choicepoint, et al, in and of their own
>right are heinous enough to DEMAND attention. That data derived from them
>could or couldn't be used for any number angles on conspiracy theories is
>irrelevant. As Twain said "Gather facts first and twist them at your
>leisure." The mechanism for gathering (or disseminating) has nothing to
The mechanisms enable. They can be a source for providing relief and
enforcement. This has to be done carefully and the means have to be
carefully considered. Otherwise, ad hoc laws passed in knee jerk
response do more harm than good. We are the experts in some aspects
of these fields, so we are good candidates for considering means.
>>(CFR 28 Part 23 doesn't apply to them,
>> and in fact, expressly doesn't apply to them, so they are a
>> neat way around the Federal guidelines. The law has to catch
>> up to technical innovations as usual, but people have to make
>> that happen).
>What's needed are more people who bug the shit out of their elected
>representatives and actively seek to derail the elections (or re-elections)
>of nitwits that continue to let these shenanigans take place. With regard
>to elections is perhaps the point made by Edumnd Burke, "All that is
>necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
We are in agreement there, but before we incite our lawmakers, we who
build these systems should own up to the responsbility for considering
the consequences of their deployment. If we say this is not our
job or our responsibility, we join a very large and largely despised
group of innovators who reckoned little with what would be done
rather probably with their inventions. We are our brother's keeper.
Otherwise, we have given up on the law.