Internet+ Effects: Control/Regulation

We’re controlled/regulated by the Internet and/plus attendant hard- and software (i.e., by what I call, Internet+). This is well documented in Crary’s book, 24/7 (see my Amazon review below); e.g., when he writes on page 46: “Every new product [hardware]or service [software] presents itself as essential for the . . . organization of one’s life, and there is an ever-growing number of routines and needs that constitute this life that no one has actually chosen.” [emphasis added]

On the topic of control, see also:

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Market

Snowden’s Leaks and the Liberal Illusion of Control


My Amazon review:

on September 27, 2013
Crary describes–accurately, I believe–how the Internet and its attendant hardware (PCs, mobile phones, and the like) and software (e.g., Google) have integrated individuals into “the 24/7 operations of information processing networks” (p. 24). Almost everyone is (so to speak) all in and, he says–again, accurately–there’s no way out: we’re in “a switched-on universe for which no off-switch exists. . . . [N]o moment, place, or situation now exists in which one can not shop, consume, or exploit networked resources, there is a relentless incursion [of the Internet, mobile devices, and the like]. . . into every aspect of social and personal life” (p. 30). Crary’s description of the all-in-no-way-out relationship between individuals and their society/universe–a relationship in which individuals are integrated into the larger system in which they are a part and, thereby, controlled by it–is not unique. It’s similar to Marcuse’s one-dimensional society, McLuhan’s “world of total involvement [of] everybody” (The Medium is the Massage, p. 61), and Wolin’s “inverted totalitarianism” (Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism). It’s a notion as old–and as accurate–as Rousseau’s, “man … is everywhere in chains”, as well as a basic tenet of anthropology and sociology and, of course, an empirically established principle of behaviorism and system analysis.
Crary’s contribution to our understanding of the contemporary situation, although not unique, is significant because he shows, more clearly than anyone else I’m aware of, the centrality of the Internet, PCs, electronic networks, and so on, in the one dimensionality of our contemporary situation.
Crary is displeased with our situation, with “the homogeneity of the present” (p. 19), and wants “radical social transformation” (p. 121). Some (I include myself) propose that we find the levers for change and betterment within the existing situation; that is, within the Internet world. No way! says Crary. We must “struggle . . . elsewhere”; that is, we must initiate and form our struggles outside the Internet world, in “already existing relationships forged out of shared experiences and proximity” (Ibid.). In addition, “we must “subordinate. . . . electronic media” to these efforts that we’ve developed outside 24/7 electronic media networks. Otherwise, the Internet, electronic networks, et al. “will . . . reproduce and reinforce the separations . . . [and other Crary-undesired phenomena] inherent in their use” (Ibid.).
Crary and his elsewhere outside radicals are as likely to succeed today in producing “radical social transformation” as did their 1960’s Marcusian-outside-radical-goal counterparts. Consider the accomplishments of Marcuse’s lauded leftist intelligentsia, the socially marginalized, “the unemployed and the unemployable …. outcasts and outsiders, and the exploited and persecuted” (One-Dimensional Man, p. 256). Angela Davis comes to my mind, as she did to Marcuse’s, but she is/was a social transformer? Eldridge Cleaver, another 1960s persecuted leftist radical, transformed himself in 1975 from Black Panther to fashion designer, then, to Christian Republican and, later, to other personae, but that’s it in terms of Cleaver and transformation. At best, Crary’s elsewhere radicals, Marcuse’s leftist intellectuals, the persecuted, et al, as well as all other outsiders, however named–bring about incremental change; the only kind of change (excluding Divine intervention or similarly-sized disasters) there is. Those (again, I include myself) who want to increase the effectiveness of incremental changes which, over time, result in breakthroughs and a significantly better situation, must use the Internet and its accompanying hard- and software. Otherwise, we fail to optimize our efforts to move the Internet world in the right direction.
Posted in control, Internet+ Effects | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Survey Researchers Foster Confusion When They Ask About Race And Ethnicity

Survey researchers foster confusion when they ask about race and ethnicity–and they acknowledge they’re doing so!–and, because they’re addicted to asking, they continue to ask about race and ethnicity.

As stated in the Newsletter below, which I received from a university survey research center, one reason survey researchers confuse respondents when they ask about race and ethnicity is that, as they acknowledge, “[r]ace and ethnicity . . . [are] evolving social constructs.”  That is, the meanings of “race” and “ethnicity” for both askers and respondents changes over time, so at the time of asking it’s not at all clear what these two words mean for askers and respondents and, thus, no way to know if “race” and “ethnicity” have the same same meaning for asker and answerer.  TALK ABOUT CONFUSION!

Also, asking about race and ethnicity  “requires [2] separate questions. . . . [R]ace is classified into five [5] groups: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White.”   2 questions, 5 categories in one question and “[i]n addition, respondents are provided the opportunity to self-identify with more than one [1-2] racial category.” And the ethnicity question–are you of Hispanic or Latino origin–is asked before rather than after the race question.  Lots of variables here: 2 questions, multiple categories in each, may or may not select more than one category.  TALK ABOUT CONFUSION!  

Askers acknowledge in the Newsletter (below) they’re confusing respondents: “there are several concerns with this approach to measuring these constructs. For many respondents, there remains confusion regarding the differences between measures of race and ethnicity. In addition, these items restrict concern with ethnicity to Hispanic vs. non-Hispanic status only, while the concept of ethnicity is generally viewed as having a far broader meaning. TALK ABOUT CONFUSION!  

Also, the notion that there are five types/races of humans: “American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White” is absurd and further contributes to the confusion surrounding these matters.  Survey researchers are not alone in perpetuating this confusion.  What we need to remember is that all humans are members of the human species.  Biologically, we’re all members of the same group/category: human.  Some humans are indigenous to the lower 48, others to Alaska, or Africa, etc., etc.

No. 113

Federal Standards for Measuring Race & Ethnicity

Race and ethnicity are commonly recorded in surveys conducted in the U.S. Ironically, there is no generally agreed upon standard for measuring these important, and evolving, social constructs. One existing standard was established by the U.S. government’s Office of Management and Budget in 1977 and revised in 1997. These standards were designed to insure consistency in reporting of race and ethnicity as part of efforts to monitor equal protection and civil rights compliance.

This approach requires separate questions to measure racial vs. ethnic identity. Here, race is classified into five groups: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White. In addition, respondents are provided the opportunity to self-identify with more than one racial category. Ethnicity is designed to be asked before the race question and is used to classify persons as to whether or not they are of Hispanic or Latino origin.

This basic classification scheme for race and ethnicity continues to be used today in federal statistical surveys, and by many other researchers. While useful for many purposes, there are several concerns with this approach to measuring these constructs. For many respondents, there remains confusion regarding the differences between measures of race and ethnicity. In addition, these items restrict concern with ethnicity to Hispanic vs. non-Hispanic status only, while the concept of ethnicity is generally viewed as having a far broader meaning. Non-federal researchers, of course, are free to employ other measures of race and ethnicity that may be more appropriate to their specific research needs. A future News Bulletin will review some of those approaches.

Posted in Survey Research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Market

Freedom is an illusion.  Control or, more gently, regulation is the reality.  Here’s an example:

“talk of a `free market’ notwithstanding, there’s no more heavily regulated aspect of our life.  The market is regulated by law not just in its elements–it is law that enforces contracts, establishes property, and regulates currency–but also in its effects.  The law uses taxes increase the market’s constraint on certain behaviors and subsidies to reduce its constraint on others.  We tax cigarettes in part to reduce their consumption, but we subsidize tobacco production to increase its supply.  We tax alcohol to reduce its consumption.  We subsidize child care to reduce the constraint the market puts on raising children.  In many such ways the constraint of the law is used to change the constraints of the market.”  (Lawrence Lessing, Code 2.0, Basic Books, 2006, p. 127.)

In Code 2.0, Lessig discusses how we’re controlled/regulated by code when we’re online.  Code controls/regulates.  Writers of code–coders–are controllers/regulators of cyberspace.  Offline, online, there’s no freedom.  Control is the reality.

Posted in freedom | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Internet Effects On The Poor

The Internet is affecting almost everything, including programs for assisting the world’s poorest people.  Check out this Wall Street Journal article.

So, if you want to assist poor people in the best possible way, do it via the Internet.  You gotta move–to the Internet!


Posted in Internet Effects | Tagged | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy In Christianity

There is much hypocrisy in Christianity. Consider the Vatican: “The Vatican alone is estimated to be worth $10 billion to $15 billion, not counting the value of its art or land.  Dedication to poverty is apparently a good business.” Ronald Allen, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Also relevant on Christianity; what I call, The Christian Fiction:

Religions Are Human Fabrications

Christianity Has Given Up On Jesus And Gone To The Dogs

Do You Really Want To Know: About The Life Of Blacks Living In The Only Nation Conceived In Liberty? So, Do You? Then Read James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time 

Review: Koran

Posted in Christianity | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Government Is Not A Service

Government is not a service and government officials are not servants, public or otherwise. Governments are influential organizations that acquire money from individuals and organizations (e.g., businesses), fund and implement some programs and not others (thereby benefiting some, others to a lesser degree, and some not at all), wage war, and imprison more than a few.  Government personnel, rather than servants of the citizenry are its rulers, readily admitted when describing personnel in government–as Hobbes named them–“misliked.”

Also relevant to this point is a statement by Benjamin Franklin Bache, who wrote in a 1794 Philadelphia Aurora editorial: “All governments are more or less combinations against the people . . . and as rulers have no more virtue than the ruled.”


Posted in government | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Efforts To Make Answers Reliable Fail

Survey researchers/askers are always trying to make their always-unreliable answers reliable and always fail to do so.  Answers are always unreliable because answers are always affected/skewed by questions (e.g., wording), askers (e.g., gender affects answers), respondents (e.g., their memory), and settings in which questions are asked and answers given (e.g., different answers given to online pollsters than to friends at the bar or on the street).  Efforts to make always-unreliable answers reliable–e.g., by inserting attention checks (see No. 106 below)–always fail because they also always affect/skew, or to use No. 106’s word, “influence” answers.  To ask, with or without attention checks, is to affect/influence answers; that’s just the way it is!

In the newsletter below, which I received from a university research center, I have put the most relevant parts in bold and I’ve placed my comments in bold and brackets [  ] .

“No. 106
Using Attention Checks to Identify Poor Quality Data

With the ever increasing popularity of self-administered modes of survey data collection, particularly online, attention checks have become a common approach to verifying that respondents are in fact giving due attention to the survey response task.  Also known as “Instructional manipulation checks” (IMCs), or “screeners,” attention checks are intended to identify individuals [respondents]who satisfice when responding, typically by not reading questions carefully and hence failing to correctly follow instructions. Respondents unable to “pass” attention   questions are believed to provide poor quality data that is less reliable, [BELIEVED; survey researchers don’t KNOW because the only way to KNOW if answers are or are not reliable is to check or verify them with data from non-asking sources.  Survey researchers do not have this data; therefore, they DON’T KNOW.]  and those respondents are often excluded when conducting data analyses.

However, more recent empirical research is inconclusive regarding these assumptions about attention checks and the value of excluding those who “fail” attention checks when analyzing the study data. There is concern that, because failure of attention checks may be correlated with some sociodemographic variables, deleting these cases may have a detrimental effect on the composition of final samples, which may also affect data quality. There are additional concerns that attention check questions may influence subsequent respondent behavior in ways that can also damage data quality by increasing respondent mistrust of researchers and by decreasing motivation to carefully answer subsequent questions. Consequently, recent research now advises against using attention checks and removing these respondents.”  [HOWEVER, by NOT using attention checks, answers remain unreliable because there’s no way to know if respondents are “giving due attention to the survey response task”; no way to know if they’re “reading questions carefully”; if they’re correctly follow[ing] instructions.” TO ASK,WITH OR WITHOUT ATTENTION CHECKS, IS TO AFFECT/INFLUENCE ANSWERS; THAT’S JUST THE WAY IT IS!]

If you want to find out what’s really going on, don’t ask.  That’s the theme of my book, The Problem with Survey Research.

Posted in Survey Research | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment