I made the following clippings from The Net Delusion when reading it on my Kindle:
IN A NUTSHELL
– yes the internet can be used to pass on antigovernment information, but it can also be used to:
1) spy on citizens
2) satisfy their hunger for entertainment (internet the distraction)
3) subject them to subtle propaganda
4) launch cyberattacks on the Pentagon
INTERNET THE DISTRACTION
– Big Brother no longer has to be watching its citizens because they are themselves watching Big Brother on TV.
– the Internet has dampened the level of antigovernment sentiment – because people have acquired access to cheap and almost infinite digital entertainment (making them numb to the real issues)
– From a government’s perspective, it’s far better to keep young Russians away from politics altogether, having them consume funny videos on Russia’s own version of YouTube, Ru-Tube (owned by Gazprom).
– the Vietnamese firewall allows youngsters to consume plenty of porn but not Amnesty International reports
– The information consumption of an average American reached 34 gigabytes of data per day
– Orwell noted “man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”
INTERNET A TOOL FOR TERRORISTS AND DESPOTS
– That Al Qaeda seemed to be as proficient in using the Internet as its Western opponents did not chime well with a view that treated technology as democracy’s best friend.
– IN early 2010 Google announced it was pulling out of China, fed up with the growing censorship and demands of the Chinese government and mysterious cyber-attacks on its intellectual property
– When the director of the FBI publicly admits that he doesn’t bank online out of security concerns, it’s a sure bet that more control and regulations of the Internet are on the way
– control officers at Tehran’s airport asked Iranians living abroad if they had facebook accounts and proceed to write down any suspicious looking online friends a traveller may have
– the digital revolution has made surveillance easier as digital information is easier to collect and store.
– A 2009 MIT study has shown that is possible to predict, with a striking degree of accuracy – the sexual orientation of Facebook users by analysing their online friends. THis is hardly good news for those in regions like the Middle East.
INTERNET FOR PROPOGANDA (propagate don’t censor)
– Why does government propoganda – and especially propoganda based on lies and intentional misrepresentation of facts – still work in an age when one could find plenty of credible evidence online to disprove it? It works for the same unfortunate reasons that myths about Barack Obama’s missing birth certificate.
– Other myths that live on thanks to the internet – death panels, that climate change is a hoax
– The more you try to get something off the Internet, the more you fuel everyone’s interest in it
– Censoring only confers additional credibility to whatever criticism was expressed in the original blog post or article. It is better to counter the blog post with effective propaganda.
– All it takes to discredit a blogger is to accuse him of being funded by the CIA, MI6 or Mossad.
– It is easier to get people to doubt something than to believe in something
– The ruling Chinese Communist Party took Tony Blair’s re-invention of British Labour as a model for their own repackaging in the 90s and even invited Peter Mandelson to give a talk.
NAIVE WORSHIP OF ONLINE SOLUTIONS
– Wired magazine is the official printing organ of the Church of ‘Cyber-Utopianism’ (which believes that there is a technological fix to all ills)
– Marshall MacLuhan who coined the ‘global village’ reductionism is Wired magazine’s adopted patron saint
– one’s previous experiences with solving similar problems block us from seeking more effective solutions to new problems (Einstellung Effect)
ON DEMOCRACY AND ECONOMIC LIBERALISATION
– Electoral success is not the only way a regime can claim legitimacy. Legitimacy can be derived from other things such as jingoistic nationalism (China, and Palin?), fear of a foreign invasion (Iran), fast rates of economic development (Russia) and governing competence (Singapore).
– China is becoming like the West in more visible ways ways (Starbucks, Hooters, Cellphones) and the West is becoming more like China (torture, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention, though not nearly on the Chinese scale).
– In early 2009 the US National Security Agency (NSA) was reported to have offered a sizeable cash bounty to anyone who could help them break Skype’s encrypted communications; to date no winners have been announced.
– Chinese today buy TVs with the biggest screens in the world
– Moscow has the highest number of BMWs per square meter
– the most impressive and most unambiguous triumph of democracy in the last few decades: the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union
– Except for North Korea, Turkmenistan and perhaps Burma, modern authoritarian states have embraced consumerism, and it seems to have strengthened rather than undermined their regimes
– Simon Bolivar was the nineteenth century aristocrat who liberated much of Latin America from Spanish rule.
– Rebiya Kadeer is the exiled leader of China’s Uighur minority
ON 1984 V. BRAVE NEW WORLD
– Orwell’s vision of Stalinist terror in 1984 never really arrived, but Brave New World is everywhere (power by control v. power by distraction).
– Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
– Propaganda, censorship and surveillance are the three main pillars of Orwell-style authoritarian control
– Orwell’s work was an attack on Stalinism and the stifiling practices of the British censors, while Huxley’s was an attack on the then popular philosophy of utilitarianism
– Orwell, the younger of the two, studied French under Huxley’s tutelage at Oxford
HOW TO SET UP A WIRETAP
– About six people enter the apartment wearing soft shoes; they move aside a bookcase, for example, cut a square opening in the wall paper, drill a hole in the wall, place the bug inside, and glue the wallpaper back. The artist on the team airbrushes the spot so carefully that one cannot notice any tampering. The furniture is replaced, the door is closed, and the wiretappers leave.
– a Rorschach test is where different people look at the same ink splotch and see very different things