The "format" of this website is a hybrid. Currently, it is comprised of in-depth, deeply thought-out "static" webpages, that are partly arranged in "layers". This is unlike the typical "fast-twitch" linear Blog, but also unlike the traditional hierarchically-ordered website.
Here is my main, "underlying" webpage: Information Ethics and Information Warfare in Social Climate Change It has not changed significantly since August 2008.
Here is a more recent (July 2009) page that may undergo somewhat more active revision: Economic Meltdown as Info-War: Exploiting Design Vulnerabilities in Financial Markets This offers more current, topical "entry points" to the fundamental issues, and so serves as a "Front-End" to the underlying ideas. The 2 entry points it offers as case studies are U.S. Intelligence Agencies, and how the U.S. caused the Meltdown of the globalized Political Economy. For a lighter, "gallows-humor" treatment of some related issues, you might enjoy jumping ahead in this Index, to: A Midsummer Night's Meditation on Economic Models and Meltdowns .
Regarding political campaigns and eternal vigilance, it might be a good idea (in a democracy) for citizens to ensure that votes are accurately counted. But what happens when the mainstream media, elections officials, and the manufacturers of electronic voting machines are clueless about computer security facts, and instead rely on faith-based security?
My Electronic Voting page documents my attempts to educate technologically-illiterate Americans about the facts, in a highly polarized political climate.
Power Relations and Information Warfare was written to teach students in my Information Ethics classes how information is actually used in America and the globalized modern economy, and more importantly, how information is abused. It teaches some Info-war history (e.g, how the pre-Civil War U.S. controlled its slaves by prohibiting anyone from teaching slaves to read or write), and provides a gentle introduction to the Rules of Engagement that govern the conduct of modern, "civilized" political and economic Information Warfare.
President Abraham Lincoln is often quoted as writing that,
"corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow ... "Is the quote authentic, or fraudulent? My research analyzes this controversy as a still-simmering InfoWar that began over 100 years ago. In this article, I detail the long InfoWar struggle, highlight relevant social and historical context, and note that the concept of "Objective, Historical Truth" was problematic ... even in the Good Old Days.
That article updates a 1996 email I wrote -- now widely reprinted on the web -- that had attempted to resolve a polarized internet InfoWar by going to the university library to discover "the truth". Alas, as Socrates warned in Plato's Phaedrus, the development of writing has caused people to rely on,
"external signs instead of their own internal resources ... And because they are filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom, they will be a burden to society."And since, "History is written by the Winners", so it is that each "new medium", in turn, becomes an InfoWar field of battle.
Computer-assisted Crises was written for the intelligent layperson, who should be more skeptical about blindly worshiping any and every computer technology. It's my chapter in:
"Invisible Crises: What Conglomerate Control of Media means for America and the World",The Introduction offers a conceptual framework that helps clarify our perspectives on technology. Societies and individuals co-evolve with technologies:   Our minds are embedded in various technological environments, and those technologies are embedded in our minds. Thus, technologies influence our emotions and actions in ways more complex and specific than the simplistic overgeneralizations popularized by a prominent publicity-seeking media theorist of the 1960's. Technology-assisted capabilities become "habits of mind": compiled, compressed algorithms of instrumental rationality. In any situation, we naturally tend to reach for the available tools; thus, we learn to perceive situations in terms of those tools. As one wag remarked, "When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." In conjunction with any technology (whether a physical or a mental tool), our bodies become "differently abled", as do our mental abilities to perceive and conceptualize. Because ethics, emotion, and cognition cannot be completely separated, the passive worship, by Postmodernist elites, of any and every technology imposed on society is self-indulgent and irresponsible. In contrast to that obsequious deference to power, Phil Bereano highlighted one important implication of the differential effects of technological specialization of labor and consumption: "Only the naive or the scurrilous believe that   'information is power'.   Power is power, and information is particularly useful to those who are already powerful." Although Neil Postman's writings provide clarity and insight on the effects of media technologies, Postman seemed either complacent, or reluctant, to address the causes of those effects -- i.e, techno-assisted power relations. Some academics may denigrate Jerry Mander for being too practical, but that may be because their lifelong specialization ("knowing more and more about less and less") has destroyed their common sense. I respect Jerry's intelligence, and I applaud his courage in applying his ethics to change the real world.
edited by George Gerbner, Hamid Mowlana, and Herbert I. Schiller (Westview Press, 1996).
Shaped by our Technology is a case study in comparative social pathology. It examines the historical record of how Japan developed firearms technology, produced far more guns than Europe, and deployed guns in battle for nearly 100 years. Then, recognizing the negative impacts of guns on their society, Japan was able to isolate that particular socially-disruptive technology, and to "put that genie back in the bottle" for over 200 years · · · while Japanese civilization continued to advance via other technologies. Japan's ability to reject guns in favor of swords led to radically differing outcomes in 17th Century Japan vs. Germany.
This juxtaposition of historical threads -- contrasting the historical fact of Japan's ascent into a "golden age" with Europe's descent into cannibalism -- suggests the high stakes we face today as we consider various technological choices in the context of global warming, and the knowledge that technologically-civilized (but ethically-primitive) societies such as America already may bear responsibility for irreversible climate holocausts in "newly-submerging democracies" such as Bangladesh.
Hopefully everyone starts to question whether techno-change always equals techno-progress, and whether that equals social progress. (This used to be called "Critical Thinking", before it became a lost art entirely ;-) (The Redefining Progress org seems to focus narrowly on ecological economics, rather than on remedying the core ethical problem that Americans confuse Quality of Life with the "freedom" to consume a vast Quantity of Stuff.) This essay also raises issues about the extent to which technologies (and their limits) can be "democratically" chosen via cultural maturity/discipline, vs. imposed by power relations -- where some social or economic groups control others by outright coercion, or by more subtle manipulation of information or emotions.
(During this period, the "Luddites" whose interests were threatened by a new technology were the warrior-castes. As the essay describes, these Warrior-Luddites won in Japan, but lost in Europe. That's partly because Japan's samurai class had a greater power advantage over Japan's peasants than Europe's knights had over their serfs. Although I don't cover them, there are interesting parallels with the U.S. in the early 1900s, in which various power relations were exercised to destroy urban mass-transit systems, narrow-gauge railways, and a thriving solar energy industry, and replace them with fossil-fueled technologies. Invariably, history is written by the winners.)
We're Not as Green as we Think: Infrastructure, Psychology, Risks, and Responsibility addresses our ethical responsibilities for understanding and improving the complex "Infrastructures of Democracy". The primary focus is our globalized Carbon-Energy Infrastructure, and its ethical tradeoffs involving human life. The central moral theme is how Americans outsource their "dirty work" to others, then deny all responsibility. So I try to teach American civilians about the Infrastructures that provide our Security Ecology -- the U.S. military and intelligence agencies -- and the invisible toll of human lives that are lost and minds that are broken or warped by our abdication of moral responsibility. Caveat: Aside from its footnotes, this tries to give a gentle introduction to how the world works -- and how and why it fails to work. Thus, it barely begins to address Regulatory Capture, Corporate Power, or other Non-State Actors.
Techno-Ethics Quotes is a collection of technological commentary. For example:
"What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it."
-- Nobel laureate economist (and AI theorist) Herbert A. Simon
My early peer-reviewed research on Computer Security was fairly esoteric. (In order to get published in a "scientific" journal, that's pretty much a requirement.) But prompted by the dictatorial excesses of the Bush-Cheney regime (which, not surprisingly, were welcomed by most Americans, because they defined "the good life" as the Freedom to Shop Without Fear), I tried to open up yet another new disciplinary field -- Sanitization (also known as Information Disclosure Control) -- would allow policymakers to detect whether information truly necessary for "Homeland Security" infringed on Civil Liberties or Privacy, and if so, exactly how policymakers could make intelligent decisions about balancing Security with Civil Liberties and Privacy. (I'm still waiting for Dick Cheney's phone call :-)
Sanitization Models and their Limitations summarizes my several years of wrestling with these problems. Although it's a peer-reviewed publication, many parts of it can be understood by the intelligent layperson. Here is the Abstract for the paper:
Abstract: This work explores issues of computational disclosure control. We examine assumptions in the foundations of traditional problem statements and abstract models. We offer a comprehensive framework, based on the notion of an inference game, that unifies various inference problems by parameterizing their problem spaces. This work raises questions regarding the significance of intractability results. We analyze common structural aspects of inference problems via case studies; these emphasize why explicit policies are needed to specify all social context and ethical values relevant to a problem instance.
Here's a 180-degree change of pace from the intellectual rigor of peer-reviewed "Sanitization Models" ... You Broke It -- You OWN It! tries to summarize the content on my entire website, but it's written via Lyrics -- in an Intellectual Rap style. Here is one possible introductory "WRapper" [sic] to contextualize the middle column of that material:
A Midsummer Night's Meditation on Economic Models and Meltdowns
In which the Dark Lord Bondmarket informs his young apprentice,
Obama Wanna KenyaBe,
"I find your lack of Faith disturbing."
Young KenyaBe attempts to remonstrate with his Master, but to no avail. As KenyaBe succumbs to the relentless force of the "impeccable economic logic" that turned Lawrence Summers into a steaming pile of toxic Sith waste, the Narrator intercedes, vanquishing Lord Bondmarket with potent Teachings from the ancient Reality-based ones.
Obama Wanna KenyaBe is able to turn himself -- and the Ship of Empire -- away from the Dark side. All live happily ever after. (Applause)
Following Scene II, the audience is forcibly removed from the Theatre of Enlightened Discourse ("Don't tase me, Bro!"), and returned to their regularly-scheduled Economic nightmare in the Theatre of the Absurd.
Click here (*) to enter the "Theatre of Enlightened Discourse", as young KenyaBe engages in inner soliloquoy, and external dialog with his Master:
* The FINE PRINT -- all roads lead to the Theatre of the Absurd!