In an information-saturated environment, the observer's most critical faculty is not perception, but rejection. The capacity to rapidly and with low cost reject unneccessary, useless, or bogus signals or messages, below the level of consciousness if at all possible....


In the twenty-first century censorship works by flooding people with irrelevant information. We just don't know what to pay attention to, and often spend our time investigating and debating side issues. In ancient times having power meant having access to data. Today having power means knowing what to ignore.

~ Yuval Noah Harari


...and being able to ignore it without peril.

~ Falk's Addendum

@sydneyfalk It occurs to me that this is what immunity and impunity convey.


didn't see those words in the toots I saw, my bad

@sydneyfalk ???

I was commenting on a connection I'd just made.

I've been thinking a great deal about media, disinformation, propaganda, information overload.

I've also been thinking, on another track, of the phenomenon of impunity or immunity: being able to act without regard for consequences..

I've just realised that Harari's comment joins these. Impunity gives the ability to ignore. That's a principle means by which it enables.



Oh! My mistake, was still getting caffeinated. And agreed on impunity and immunity.

@dredmorbius precisely. This fits with what Byung-Chul Han was writing about in his book In the Swarm 👍🏿

@Gotterdammerung @dredmorbius in his book 'Amusing Ourselves to Death' Neil Postman recounts how the invention of the telegraph gave rise to the concept of 'daily news' ie whatever had come through the telegraph wires that day (thus "newswire"), often delivered without context or analysis. When I read that I immediately thought of "social media" ...

@strypey The lessons, parallels, and crucially, /differences/ we can learn from the age of telegraphy are tremendous.

Of the first: it was digital, lightspeed, required transmission lines and links, was peer-to-peer, and rapidly developed into networks. Interruption and interception were possible (and instrumental in numerous events). It was store-and-forward.

Costs though were high, BW and access limited.

It changed culture, business, politics, language.


@dredmorbius @strypey What I took away from that book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, was that the form of discourse does regulate and dictate the possibility of content to be expressed.

In the 18th & 19th century American discourse was centered in typography, it was content-laden and serious. But telegrams eroded this by mid-19th century, and photography sped up this erosion until television radically transformed public discourse by mid-20th century.

@Gotterdammerung Or, rewriting, for telegraphic, telegenic brevity:

The medium is the message.

(Postman was a student of McLuhan.)


@Gotterdammerung This is also a fundamentalmprinciple of cybernetics. Changes to the information segment of a system -- perception, parsing, processing, control, communications -- *changes the system*. Including changes to rate, volume, latency, bandwidth.

I first clearly realised this a couple of years ago. I'm hardly the first, but this is underappreciated generally.


@Gotterdammerung James Beniger and Joanne Yates both explore the development of business comms especially ~1800 - 1980s and on.

She's now looking at protocols.


@dredmorbius @Gotterdammerung is there any web video available of talks by Joanna Yates on this? Sounds like that would be a great addition to this list:

@dredmorbius @Gotterdammerung seems to me like this is also related to that law (can never remember the name) that states that an organization will end up with the same network topology as the communication infrastructure used to organize it. Or have I got that backwards? Hmm ...

@Gotterdammerung @dredmorbius
> the form of discourse does regulate and dictate the possibility of content to be expressed.

... or as another more famous media theorist summed it up:

> "the medium is the message"

... although I think it would be more nuanced to say 'the medium *shapes* the message' ie any message pushed through a star-shaped hole will still contain the same essential information, but it come out star-shaped.

@Gotterdammerung (oops! Didn't see that @dredmorbius had already made that connection, but I think my addendum was still worth noting)

@dredmorbius I think this is a crucial insight for our time and for the future. We are living in one of the great transitions of human history. The flood gates of data have opened and we don't know how to handle it. If we get it right, future generations - the ones who we are teaching now - will understand how to use their judgement and filter through the crap. If we get it wrong, then the world will become ever more divided and ever more unequal.

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