Thursday, February 10, 2005

The power of the netMind: Outing another GOP fake News | Fake news, fake reporter

A couple of years ago a Rumsfeld project was leaked and then (supposedly) shut down. The project was to facilitate US military efforts by planting fake news stories. Of course anyone who thought it was really shut down was terminally naive. Instead the program evidently mushroomed, and, of course, became a part of a US focused initiative to advance GWB's agenda and reelection.

The silliness of the Talon/Gannon plant suggests the limitations of using pawns and exposes the fundamental philosophies of this administration:

1. The ends justify the means.
2. The public are sheep that must be guided by the wise.

The way this fraud was exposed, however, says something more interesting about the NetMind:
Gannon's star turn quickly piqued the interest of many online commentators, who wondered how an obvious Republican operative had been granted access to daily White House press briefings normally reserved for accredited journalists. Two weeks later, a swarming investigation inside the blogosphere into Gannon and Talon News had produced all sorts of damning revelations about how Talon is connected at the hip to a right-wing activist organization called GOPUSA, how its "news" staff consists largely of volunteer Republican activists with no journalism experience, how Gannon often simply rewrote GOP press releases when filing his Talon dispatches. It also uncovered embarrassing information about Gannon's past as well as his fake identity. When Gannon himself this week confirmed to the Washington Post that his name was a pseudonym, it only added to the sense of a bizarre hoax waiting to be exposed.
I first saw this type of emergent thinking when a group of interested persons working together rapidly exposed an international credit card fraud. That was before blogging, but the combination of a summary document (web) and email/usenet already allowed small slices of many disparate minds to collaborate in solving a problem.

Emergent problem solving through distributed mindslices linked by low bandwidth connections. Hmm. Reminds me of the SETI distributed processing effort, but running on wetware rather than hardware.

This is not new of course. It's as old as newspapers, but it really caught on in the early days of usenet. Web pages moved it up a level. Where will it end up?

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