A Few Thoughts On Twitter Enforcement-Is It Politically Biased?

We all have individual biases and institutions are filled with people self-selecting towards certain biases and away from others.

A few clear rules of the road and a mission statement from the folks running Twitter enforcement would be nice.  I’m already pretty sure I don’t share many political views with the curators, but that’s fine as long as the rules are clear.

I see Twitter as a very effective, constantly updating communication channel with design elements that will likely outlive the platform. This has attracted users like me to filter information about the world (weather, humor, politics) and stolen the lunch of many older communication channels.

Twitter also highlights very difficult challenges in designing any sort of rule structure on a relatively open platform, and the costs of instant gratification through narrow communication channels.

The loudest people are often the ones who get the most attention, and they can easily traffic in very bad ideas and very bad behavior (what, you’re surprised?).

Which loud voices are being encouraged?

Here’s the most charitable information I can offer with my current lack of knowledge:

Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.”  Arthur Schopenhauer

People with high IQs trained to solve problems rationally can just as easily overlook their biases as the rest of us.  People who design, engineer and maintain network systems can spend less time examining their own thinking about personal, social and political beliefs.  Each of us doesn’t know what we don’t know, but smart people, especially, can mistake specific domain knowledge for all the other knowledge contained on their platform.

I suspect there’s some capture going on with certain users and the curators of the platform, which is unsurprising.  Shallow conversations often have deeper contexts, but I find Twitter is not a great place to have deep conversations, especially about politics.

Yet, the people running the platform now have a lot of power and influence over political conversations.

Here’s what I think would be a good standard. As previously and often posted (from a reader):

“First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.’

‘Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied. ‘

‘Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. ‘

And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.”

-John Stuart Mill ‘On Liberty: Chapter II-Of The Liberty Of Thought And Discussion’

Some Monday Links: The Left, Money & The New Republic-Garry Kasparov & Christopher Walken As ‘Max Zorin’

I think the only man who can save us from Silicon Valley as it currently stands, is the strange Nazi/Soviet funded superfreak, Max Zorin:

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Now that’s a plan, but we probably don’t need to be saved.

Megan McArdle discusses the reality of trying to monetize not only writers and journalists, but intellectuals.

Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook bought the New Republic:

‘Every new owner looks at media and thinks, “This is insane and inefficient. Obviously, this is a dinosaur industry ripe for rationalization by someone who actually knows how to run a business.” When you get inside, however, it turns out that the industry is not actually staffed, as previously assumed, by archaic snobs who wear suspenders and spats when they sit down with a glass of sherry to read the latest Dos Passos epic. Instead, most of the seemingly inexplicable inefficiencies are driven by the peculiar nature of this business.’

Tech-industry business models producing deliverables out of high-end, labor-intensive coding and programming work in ‘the Valley’ don’t necessarily translate successfully for East-coast, establishment ‘bookstore’ intellectuals, apparently.

Writers and academic refugees, political theorists and idea people tend to think differently than engineering types, especially when those writers are coated with the dust of the marketplace, harbor the skepticism and suspicion of journalists on the beat, and are busy just being the lone-wolf, creative, artistic and introspective types they often are (software engineers can be highly creative, but in a generally different way).

Of course, the New Republic was a space where the progressive Left, and some genuine radicals and true Leftist ideologues gravitated, and where they were often pushed against by and for practical purposes by more moderate, establishment liberals and other thinkers.  They will continue to have a lot of influence.

We’ll see what happens, but nowadays the New Republic appears to my eyes more like Upworthy, Salon, the Huffington Post and other Left-leaning sites in the marketplace.

Visit the Upworthy generator if that’s your thing.

Libertarian editor of Reason Matt Welch took a look at the change of ownership at the New Republic under Hughes, and the move further Leftward:

‘The great irony is that The New Republic is repudiating contrarian neoliberalism precisely when we need it most. Obama proposes in his State of the Union address to jack up the minimum wage to $9 an hour, and instead of surveying the vast skeptical academic literature, or asking (pace Charles Peters) whether such liberal gestures are “more about preserving their own gains than about helping those in need,” TNR columnist Timothy Noah declares, “Raise the Minimum Wage! And make it higher than what Obama just proposed.”

Adam Kirsch, Simon Blackburn, Martha Nussbaum, John Gray.  Here are a few links on this site to the New Republic:  Leon Wieseltier At The New Republic: ‘A Darwinist Mob Goes After a Serious Philosopher’Adam Kirsch At The New Republic: ‘Art Over Biology’

****Tech money and technology are affecting not only old media.  Kids starting out now have touch screens all around them, staring at their smart phones, games etc. for hours on end.  They aren’t necessarily idle.

The NY Times, the Ivy League, lawyers and law schools and various, assorted guilds in our society…take note.

This is probably more important than just debates about politics, ideas, and political theory.

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On that note (yeah, I don’t think the New Republic is full of totalitarians):

From a Thomas Sowell piece, the Legacy Of Eric Hoffer:

‘Hoffer said: “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”

People who are fulfilled in their own lives and careers are not the ones attracted to mass movements: “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding,” Hoffer said. “When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.”

What Hoffer was describing was the political busybody, the zealot for a cause — the “true believer,” who filled the ranks of ideological movements that created the totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century.’

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As sent in by a reader for Reason magazine:

Chess-great Garry Kasparov grew up as part of the Soviet empire, in its waning days, and is now a human-rights activist in addition to his chess-work.  He is calling for many in the West to have the courage of their convictions, which also challenges many on the Left, liberal-Left, as well as the libertarian anti-war crowd and activists of all stripes.

This is the stuff out of which neo-conservatives can be born.

Yes, the Soviet days are over, but don’t just fold and walk away from the table (poker, not chess, as Kasparov points out).  Putin is bluffing, but still playing a dangerous, destabilizing game, from Ukraine to China, from the Baltics to his influence in Tehran, and this requires strategy and leadership.

(And, can you trust an activist?: What are his interests aside from his ideals, what truths may be be telling and why might they appeal?)

Not necessarily breaking things, just strategy and leadership:

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That’s more of what Kasparov was likely driving at in this tweet from a while back:

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I suppose we’ll also see what happens.

Stay tuned, and if you’re interested in supporting this blog, just read it, because it’s probably never going to make any money.  It’s a labor of love.

Related On This Site:  Are we still having the same debate…is it manifest destiny?: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Pipelines Of People-James Panero At The City Journal: ‘Net Gains’

Full post here.

‘Since 2007, billions of dollars have poured into New York’s “Silicon Alley,” which recently vaulted ahead of the greater Boston area to become the nation’s second-largest tech hub behind California’s Silicon Valley. For a city that has long relied on its financial industry to spur growth and innovation, the resurgence of the tech sector is welcome news.’

Here’s a video from TheStreet, posted two years ago now with a Bloomberg rep (this blog stays on the cutting edge).

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As to the city government and the politics of the thing, if you want cash, you need cows.  From the NY Daily News on how the De Blasio administration is handling this development:

‘Alicia Glen, Mayor de Blasio’s deputy for housing and economic development, pledged to create a “real pipeline” of New Yorkers equipped for the new jobs in the city’s new economy.’

That won’t happen overnight, and for some people it won’t ever happen. It remains to be seen if labor activists can build pipelines that don’t primarily move labor activists and tax revenue around.

Related On This SiteJames Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

The Cresting Of A Hipster Wave?-From The New York Observer: ‘Brooklyn Is Now Officially Over: The Ascendance of Brooklyn, the Lifestyle, Above All Else’

Some Links On 5Pointz, Graffiti, & The Arts–Property Rights & The Rule-Of-Law

From Joel Kotkin: ‘The Cities Winning The Battle For The Fastest Growing High-Wage Sector In The U.S.’

Full post here.

Where will the new jobs be?:

‘Once considered the natural domain of megacities and dense urban cores, high-wage business service jobs, largely due to technology, can increasingly be done anywhere. This suggests that the playing field for such positions, rather than concentrating, will become ever wider. As the struggle for good jobs intensifies in the years ahead, expect the competition between regions to get even greater.’

It will be interesting to watch the process unfold.

It used to be that steel, oil, and auto manufacturing scions and families had big money, big social influence and big political ambitions.

There are increasing examples of how we’ve already changed:  The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation fusion of data driven global health initiatives and charitable works, Chris Hughes, formerly of Facebook buying the center-left New Republic magazine, Paypal’s Peter Thiel’s foundation designed to slow down the college treadmill and speed up entrepreneurship.

If you have a few minutes, it might be worth checking out Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappo’s online, putting $350 million of his own money into downtown Las Vegas to change the city.  From his original company LinkExchange which he sold, to Zappo’s customer focused business model, to Las Vegas itself, Hsieh is after scalability of interaction.  He wants to create a live/work environment that puts people densely enough to continue urban growth and human interaction.

It’s ambitious:

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Er, Curt Schilling’s 38 studios video game start-up is an example of what not to do.

Here’s Kotkin’s book, ‘The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.

Related On This Site: Underneath a lot of the social sciences are other ideas, about how people should live and what we should do: From Joel Kotkin: ‘The Suburbs Could Save President Obama From Defeat’Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’Joel Kotkin At Forbes: ‘Is Perestroika Coming In California?’

Are these the enemies of the future?: Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

Update And Repost: From Reason Via Youtube: ‘Is Harrisburg’s Nightmare America’s Future?

Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘Want To Be The Next Apple? Lose The Bafflegab’

Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture…can tech fill the hole? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘No Flying Cars, But the Future Is Bright

Full piece here.

Postrel mentions Peter Thiel:

‘In speeches, interviews and articles, Thiel decries what he sees as the country’s lack of significant innovations. “When tracked against the admittedly lofty hopes of the 1950s and 1960s, technological progress has fallen short in many domains,” he wrote last year in National Review. “Consider the most literal instance of non­acceleration: We are no longer moving faster.”

She counters with the idea that while not predicted, we take our innovations for granted:

‘Technologists who lament the “end of the future” are denigrating the decentralized, incremental advances that actually improve everyday life. And they’re promoting a truncated idea of past innovation: economic history with railroads but no department stores, radio but no ready-to-wear apparel, vaccines but no consumer packaged goods, jets but no plastics.’

Splashy innovations may not be necessary, Postrel argues, and could hinder the real progress being made, and that there are many people, for various reasons, who will put up barriers to that progress (there could be some danger in utopianism there, that has political implications as well).

Comments are worth a read.

Addition: Shouldn’t we still aim high?

Related On This Site:Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘Want To Be The Next Apple? Lose The Bafflegab’

From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

It might be worth mentioning the importance that science and technology have had on our culture through science fiction, too, and how sci-fi writers have handled its relation to political philosophy, from Robert Heinlein to Jerry Pournelle to Paul Krugman via Isaac Asimov, to manifest destiny to colonizing the West etc: Paul Krugman At The Guardian: ‘Asimov’s Foundation Novels Grounded My Economics’

Check out Pournelle’s Iron Law Of Bureaucracy and his chart of political organization.