If I Had My Way


To:       Dean Starkman - dean@deanstarkman.com

Cc:       Clay Shirky - (Address unknown, please forward)

Cc:       Doc Searls - dsearls@cyber.law.harvard.edu

Cc:       Dave Winer - dave.winer@gmail.com

Cc:       Jeff Jarvis - jeff@buzzmachine.com

Cc:       Ken Doctor - kdoctor@gmail.com

Cc:       Jay Rosen - jr3@nyu.edu

Cc:       Glenn Greenwald - GGreenwald@salon.com

Cc:       Paul Krugman - (Address unknown, please forward)

From:  Doug Skoglund - skoglund@pdmsb.com

Date:   Sunday, Dec 04, 2011 

Subject: My Way XLVI - Confidence Game...

Caveat: I have added two additional personalities to my special mailing list because of recent relevant posts -- Dean Starkman's "Confidence Game" and Clay Shirky's "Institutions, Confidence, and the News Crisis"

Both of these essays are very lengthy, and I have no intention of reviewing either one. They are well written, of course, and very persuasive -- dealing with the current situation confronting journalism. Starkman uses the term, "Future of News" (FON) to categorize the people he writes about. 

Since I have been directing these postings of mine at the some of the same people, I seem to find myself on the Starkman side of the fence.

Obviously, as an engineer turned programmer, I have no professional knowledge of journalism: however, because of my scientific training and my extensive experience solving a variety of problems, I believe that I have some relevant knowledge to share.

It all breaks down to a very, very simple process -- the human brain, how it works and how one perceives  the output. Many studies are in process; however, we still don't understand the precise detail of the brain's operation. We do know that it manages the body and produces opinions -- not facts, opinions.

Now some people believe that those opinions are controlled by some higher power and are consequently superior to others less blessed. Others just accept an opinion as valid and/or superior, because of the relative intelligence of the brain that produced it. The third category recognizes the fallibility of the human brain and incorporates a validation process (AKA: scientific process/method).

Obviously, I am an advocate of the scientific process -- it is fundamental to the democratic process -- or, at least, should be. I am sorry for the name and its effect on some of the participants -- the anti-science group. Maybe we could call it the "democratic validation process" -- to be used prior to the "democratic resolution process" (AKA: voting).

I am not certain, but I think that the scientists, in addition to the scientific process, have given us the concept of cause and effect. That each and every  event was caused by other event/events -- that nothing "just happens."

My problem with the FON group is demonstrated by the following quote from Clay Shirky's post:

Rosen and Jarvis and Bell and I disagree plenty, but one belief we have in common is that the way newspapers used to be organized and funded is a bad fit for the current environment, and getting worse. More than any individual sentiment we may have expressed, our public loss of faith in the institutional logic of Plan A seems to be what has most aroused Starkman's ire.

I have seen absolutely nothing to validate that common belief -- apparently they believe it valid because they agree on it. In addition, newspapers are suffering from decreasing revenue -- they have failed to analyze the cause of that problem.

To be continued (I Hope)

Doug Skoglund skoglund@pdmsb.com

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