Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Web of Delusion (contd.)

In an interview with Education Guardian yesterday, Kenneth Baker, the former Tory Education Minister, said this:
"The web and Youface [he later corrects himself] and tube have given ordinary people power. They want to be more involved in decision-making. It means there's going to be much more power at the rim of the wheel than the hub."

Leaving aside the comic dimension of YouFace and SpaceBook, this is yet more internet-related bollocks-on-stilts from a politician.
Do I sit down at this blog in the morning singing that 80s song 'I've Got The Power!'
Do I fuck.
Blogging is just the contemporary version of vanity publishing with the advantage that it's free and you might get a few readers who can engage with you through comments.
YouTube is a place where young people can post videos of themselves setting fire to their hair.
Social networking sites are just that: places to socialise and share pictures.
None of these things have 'given ordinary people power'.

In the ten years that the internet has been an important medium in many people's lives (not forgetting that there's still a 'digital divide' with large chunks of the population still not online), has there been a significant shift in the distribution of either power or wealth in society?
Of course not.

It's impossible to say whether politicians actually believe this garbage about the empowerment of ordinary people by the internet.
But one thing you can be sure of: the political system in liberal democracies will simultaneously embrace and neutralise the new medium, making damned sure that it doesn't actually transfer any power to ordinary people.
So David Cameron posts videos on YouTube of him doing the washing-up in the belief that this connects him with young people and No 10 enables petitions to be posted on its website as a sham exercise in direct democracy - the people have spoken (well, a few nutters anyway) and we can safely ignore them.
Meanwhile, the non-liberal, non-democracies will continue to ruthlessly censor the internet. Only this week Cuba, that country so beloved of a certain type of leftie, has blocked access to the country's most popular blog.

To adapt Ken Baker's analogy, the relationship of 'the people' to the wheel is not so much one of 'power at the rim' but more like a hedgehog flattened under the wheel.
Or, to put it another way, we've always been rimmed by the ruling class and always will be.


Meanwhile, from over the pond, we have a new term to add to the lexicon of political euphemisms for lying. Being 'economical with the truth' has already passed into the language. Or, as the late Alan Clark put it: 'economical with the actualité'.
Now, Hillary Clinton, following her family-size, Melton Mowbray porkie about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire has said that she 'misspoke'.
Perhaps it's time to update the story of what little George Washington said to his father after cutting down the cherry tree: "I cannot mis-speak."
No, doesn't have quite the same ring to it.


It's a day to fly the flag at Lupin Towers at half-mast. This was Carolyn Quinn's last day on the Today programme.
Intelligent, courteous and lacking in ego, Carolyn Quinn has the most mellifluous voice in radio. She will be greatly missed.
At least we now know who Evan Davis is replacing. If only it had been Sarah Montagu. I had been hoping for the wonderful Evan and the Mighty Quinn as my Dream Team.
Ah well, you can't have everything.


At 10:45 AM, Blogger Vicus Scurra said...

Far from being a vehicle for political power it is an instrument for keeping us busy with mindless activities while they fuck us up in a very big way.
I would write more, but I have to go and beat my score on "nerds and vampires".

The word verification is "gword". What is the G word? One that we are not supposed to use in polite company? Gordon?

At 12:44 PM, Blogger The Chief Executive said...

Misspoke is spookily Orwellian...

Thanks for the Gavin and Stacey reviews - your first took me straight to the iPlayer. It is a joy in a pretty turgid schedule.

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

vicus: agreed.

c.e.: Yes, I overlooked the Orwellian flavour.
Glad the G & S reviews were helpful. The next episode is said to be another cracker.


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