I can totally get why people are confused about my position on Trump.
The thing is, I completely agree with Trump's rants against the mainstream media while still rejecting him as an "America's solution" in any other way.
Negative sentiments against the mainstream legacy media were really felt by many others long before he became a candidate. Each cause or perspective respectively beheld by all that were not "status quo" were seen as marginalized by a profit corporatized media agenda. Trump just tapped into the angry white American version of that angst and, further, personalized it making it seem that the point of it all is his persecution.
Trump has hijacked the valid concept of inauthentic news media.
Trump doesn't even articulate the argument against the media well. He calls the legacy media the generators of "fake news" but that's not really accurate. The "news" is real enough, it's more often than not that they are weavers of arbitrary if not contrary focus -- focusing on stories and narratives that have nothing to do with what day to day people are actually caring about. The Russian influence of American elections is one example.
Of course it's a bad thing that the Russians try, but it's been well known enough that Russia has been interferring with our elections, and we, their elections, for as long as we have been rivals. Over 50 years.
From the linked New York Times article:
Loch K. Johnson, the dean of American intelligence scholars, who began his career in the 1970s investigating the C.I.A. as a staff member of the Senate’s Church Committee, says Russia’s 2016 operation was simply the cyber-age version of standard United States practice for decades, whenever American officials were worried about a foreign vote.
“We’ve been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947,” said Mr. Johnson, now at the University of Georgia. “We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners — you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of cash.”
The "fakeness" Trump bellows on about is that for no apparent reason (he would say because it is part of an effort to de-legitimize his election) the news media is pretending this long running game suddenly matters. Or, if it's always mattered, they get to hide through this sudden focus on it their negiligence in not making it a story sooner.
None of this changes my assertion that Trump is a ruinous president. It's great that the corporations have ended their protest against Obama policies and direction by opening up their cash flows to the public economy, by default crediting Trump's watch. But really, they would have done that for anyone even Hillary. That's because 12 years of hoard-pouting money would be just too long to keep it up. Eventually those companies not so resistant to more regulation would have found their economic strength and begun to eclipse those that did. Trump's election unfortunately interrupted that.
As I've mentioned before too, I also support his tweeting habits. It's a brilliant interfacing effort between the top office of the land and regular people in real time. A natural advance of the fireside chats conducted by Franklin Roosevelt back in the day, but in today's digital context. However crazy his tweets may seem, they ring authentic and people really feel connected to them. Supporters in particular. I know future presidents will probably keep it up, but I am betting only in that dry "PR" voice that will sound like a run of taglines from a company product brochure. Trump knows enough at least to make this tool, and social media in general, count.
My revolt against the dominance of social media and an institutional attempt to kill off the world wide web begins today. Granted the fight is in my own comfortable way, but still, maybe I'll inspire others.
Simply put I have removed the sharing functionality to Facebook and Twitter from my Battle Blog entries. From now on, in place of where those icons would appear at the end of each article when viewed as a comment or permalink, visitors will see the following tagline:
Status quo institutions are attempting to kill the hyperlink and relegate you to social media. Resist by sharing this content's hyperlink. To share this content copy the URL below to your clipboard and paste it to the medium of your choice. Never let the world forget about the World Wide Web.
Seeing where things are going, it's safe to assume that ultimately the large browser producers will one day inhibit the easy copy/pasting of URLs as part of the appreciated effort to further stamp out the web. But for now it works, at least in Chrome. If it doesn't work for you then do it the old fashioned way by copying right from the URL bar, at least until the day URLs no longer appear in the said URL bar because, again, everyone wants the hyperlink dead and buried. It will one day be obfuscated or removed altogether.
My fight is not to kill social media. After all, the very invite to copy the URL suggests that you can then paste it to the "medium of your choice" which includes Facebook or Twitter or whatever the next big atrocity happens to be. I myself love and use Twitter and paste hyperlinks there all the time. Though, speaking of which in the context of this entry, I did recently quit Facebook as yet another stab in the fight, among other reasons.
Once again I find myself envious for the WWW that something not actually the WWW is enjoying a social controversy the WWW itself should be.
A company seeking to mine and use psychological data in the last presidential election went to an academic who had acquired a bunch of it by writing a survey application that people blithingly activated and completed because, people. I guess that alone would be bad enough to trigger the sexy news buzz about how "personal data" is being used serritpitously but it goes one step worse in that what Facebook describes as some kind of flaw at the time the app was also able to branch out from the original downloader's profile to collect data on all their friends. So basically if you had one idiot enough friend who thought it was cool filling out random surveys in Facebook your own profile data got used by mere association.
All pretty surprising sure, particularly to people who lack the imagination, permanently or perhaps initially, to realize that "publicly posted information" also means "publicly available information". And god knows what might happen with any of it purposely or accidentally.
Yet again we see the media headlines outraged that this happened "on Facebook". As if Facebook were not just an extension of the very public world wide web where, if Facebook did not exist, the same information might be botted from personal web pages or blogs if people posted their associations and life nuances as deeply as they do on Facebook. Many once did after all.
But even as an issue exclusively on Facebook, so what? Again, the information harvested was willingly made available to anyone by the posters themselves. If we're upset that a machine culled it all and that some data geeks then attempted to extrapulate the information to influence broader campaigns of any sort, why aren't we equally upset about grocery stores or streaming online services doing the same? Even pre-digital this kind of thing went on.
No worries Chris, you do have a personal website to pontificate from right?
But I digress. The problem here, within the problem, as I see it, is the ever usual fact that perfectly valid controversy that should be leaving us perplexed over the role and potential misuse of the open web, is not, in favor of pretending it's all a "Facebook thing". In this subtle way the world wide web is diminished even more from people's conciousness.
As an aside, the guy who worked for the company who acquired the information from the academic, subsequently had his Facebook account suspended. It's not clear if this upsets him or not (he did post a Twitter capture of it) but as Dave the Web Guy I would have to ask him whether or not this is really a problem for him. I mean, he does have a personal website right?
I've been toiling away at the Dave the Web Guy blog and website in its various iterations for years now. I've been trying to hone its definition and purpose by concretely laying out what exactly I intend to happen with this website. Historically it's just been a sporadic place for me to post ill-constructed essays and posts on any random thing that has me hopped up on a given Saturday morning. There's not much of a consistent theme.
So, to try to tighten the reins, I have composed a Statement of Purpose page that explains this website's role in "saving" or at the very least "pouting loudly about the evaporating" world wide web until it is one way or another.
I also want the site to aggregate on a human-curated basis examples of those WWW things that are still being done online in the spirit of independent publishing. My (very initially tiny) list of webcams online is one example (oh, and by the way, my own webcam is once again online). But I will create separate lists for blogs and other artifiact sites of sort than I imagine.
The point of doing all of this will be to remind, encourage, and inspire other people to take control of their online content on the raw WWW. And, preferably for the "PC/desktop" WWW which I regard as a separate thing from the general web now since the "general" web has come to mean that atrocious presentation place that tries to serve both desktop and mobile PC devices.
Finally this blog will have the point its been meandering around for years.
I'm not so sure I agree with making social media networks the problem when it comes to such shannanigans as apparently played by the Russians. It's more of a manipulation of advertising services than "Facebook" when it comes to the Russians buying ads. It's more of a manipulation of the population than it is of Twitter's "user base".
Hey CBS, how many times were you played by companies manipulating people to spend money on cars and toilet paper?
Before the Internet people bought ads on TV and radio. And before Facebook and Twitter people bought display ads on the raw WWW, if they did not outright build websites themselves (for younger visitors, a "website" is similar to a "Facebook Page").
I am not sure why the drum beat is to corner Twitter and Facebook into "doing something" to somehow screen the communication of digital humanity taking place in their 'hoods unless it is purposeful pressure to apply yet a little more control and containment of free interaction in general.
The mainstream media, I've theorized for some time, is poised to begin taking pot shots at social media giants whenever it can with the hopes of bogging down their economics and reputation. Making them the focal point in the Russian propaganda campaign strikes me as just one example.
Okay I totally get that there was "no collusion" announced between Russia and the Trump administration when the FBI indicted 13 of them for influencing the election. Maybe they'll announce some finding of direct collusion later as the result of a different investigative thread but for now, nothing about the FBI's work presented today bears any such thing. Fine.
But running and clinging to a point nobody was making in the first place is in my opinion a way to avoid the real questions about what was discovered. Simply put the question really is and remains what did and does Russia see in Donald Trump to make him worth funding a million dollar effort to buzz into office any way they might-could?
I believe analysts within each of our own intelligence agencies figure the tactics to undermine our country are part and parcel of a more dire enemy perspective. My bet is they understand something else about them and are too embarrassed (for the country and perhaps for counter-strategic reasons) to fess up. They may even be too afraid.
Afraid because I suspect that what they and the Russians, and any foreign adversary/competitor can objectively explore and in turn seek to exploit, is a decline in both an educated American populace if not merely a less intellectual one, and a common platform of ideology and principle that is beginning to buckle under America's "only me" or "only the 'right' people" mentality. Trump is just a convenient caricature for both.
He is a strong blustery man, but in the broader sense, the one that counts in the game of competing civilizations, he is a weak one. Or more precisely, a naive one. Yet probably an inconsequential one to the aim of undermining the United States. Russia doesn't want him so much as they want his followers . It is his followers that they want to reproduce ideologically. With Trump as a sitting president he is a great growth agent for the thinking style the Russians would love to strangle us with.
Our intelligence agencies most certainly assess this or something darn close along these lines. But what can they do? Their insights and suspicions cannot insult the very people they serve; the very country they protect. I would guess that they tailor a response in kind in as little a directly documented process as possible, whatever such a response could be. For now, they seem to be resorting to warning against falling for the discourse rather than openly examining how people might have gotten so susceptible to it in the first place.
Trump and the rest of the country can bury the deeper questions by satisfying everyone that no polls were directly manipulated (though, make no mistake, the psy-op nonetheless most certainly affected tens of thousands of free-will executions at them) or that the Russians also fostered discord against Trump after the election, either loosely by interpretation or in my suspicion, as a way to obfuscate the actual and more potent goal of Trump-ifying America, as some kind of an insurance action. They did not fail to account for the possibility they would be "caught".
After all they don't think our CIA or FBI are stupid, they just count on the idea that we are.