Thursday, November 12, 2020

Free speech does not presume entitlement to global "reach" (UK working group); more on risk taking and social equity (with and without "critical theory")

 


There are a couple of interesting articles on social justice, especially when it comes to “equity”, online today.

One is in Medium (Atlantic), by Ibram X. Kendi (associated with critical theory, BLM, etc).  He actually associates “individualism” with injustice, and “community” with justice.  He also mentions empathy in the sense that it needs to be emotional, more than just cognitive, and he speaks of the racial pandemic within the biological one, which to me comes down to unequal or asymmetric personal risk-taking in lower-wage work.

Another, by Amanda Mull, directly on the Atlantic, explores “The Difference Between Feeling Safe and Staying Safe”, and sees things in a totally tribal perspective.  Most “ordinary” people get their critical information through social hierarchies and not their own thinking.

Graem Wood, a historian, examines why the 2020's will be unstable in a long essay, where he argues that there are too many elites and not enough jobs to pay them for "higher work".  There is a hint of Maoism, or at least the idea of "pay your dues" in the essay.  Earn your social credit. Maybe elites need to take their turns becoming proles.  But he does not seem to be following the reasoning of "critical theory".

Chris Wylie (who had blown the whistle on Cambridge Analytica and especially Facebook in 2018) contributes to a report from the Forum on Information and Democracy, “Working Group on Infodemics, Design a Policy Framework”, subsequently summarized by Chris Fox in the BBC on how social media might be regulated (following the meetings on Section 230 in the US on Oct. 28).

An important statement: “freedom of speech is not an entitlement to reach”.  That would mean, I don’t necessarily have my right to “speak” ungated with my own money, even on this blog, and count on search engines to make me influential.  The article describes reach in terms of social media algorithms rewarding "clickbait", even as related to a newer concept of potential "commercial viability". Actually, the search engine (non-commercial) amplification is not effective so much today as it was maybe ten years ago, but in a few specific situations my blogs and writings really have affected things (for the better), and nobody elected me (to propagate policy decisions asymmetrically).

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