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[liberationtech] Wikipedia/Tagging style experience program request

David Majlak davidmajlak at
Thu Oct 18 11:20:22 PDT 2012

Hello tech'ers. This will likely be a lengthy post. I'm proposing an idea
for a program to facilitate an evolution, however minor, in the decision
making of our society, and I will provide some examples.

We, as a species, were hunter gatherers for quite some time before we
discovered agriculture and the written word. Despite only a fortunate few
being able to understand it, this provided a concrete history for our
ancestors to review and glean information from which facilitated a faster
(or shorter) epoch. You could say hunter gatherer clans were around for
hundreds of thousands of years or more, and the gap between agriculture and
the accidental or purposeful discoveries of construction, math,
and metallurgy was less than 10,000 years, thanks to not needing to keep
everything in our head, and pass education down by word of mouth, which is
horrifyingly inaccurate.

This example goes from the rule of Egypt to the rule of Rome, where
literature became a little more widespread inside society to provide a
deeper collection of our history, along with examples of battles, civic and
commercial failures, etc. The point being that as information and history
became more readily available to observers, the more we remember and
cumulatively expand our knowledge both as individuals and as a society.

Then you go from the rule of Rome, to the advent of the industrial
revolution in even less time than before, with the explosion of the
printing press and mechanical assists in agriculture and manufacturing.
Literature and information, previous knowledge and history becomes more
available and observable to lower and lower castes in society, leading to
the information age in less than a few hundred years. I think it was
liberationtech that linked an article saying that the printing press
delivered and created more information in a shorter period of time than the
internet has, and this is true, but only because that information had never
before been recorded or created.

I'm getting at the fact that when information, history, and examples become
more readily available to us, the faster we expand and develop. Compare
your memories of what the 1994 era was like, when the internet was still an
infant, and how magical software was, to what it has become today with
twitter and facebook. Encyclopedias, dictionaries, and libraries are almost
obsolete in as little as 20 years. DNA, space travel, a planned permanent
mars space station, solar panels and so forth. Our explosive development is
incredible. Kids are making their own robots at home, programming their own
video games, and so on in no time at all.

Politics has remained the same. Although I have a different idea that will
(would*, because let's be honest, no one cares enough because of money and
power, or ever will) facilitate true democracy, as well as preparing this
world for the global community it will soon become, among a laundry list of
other miraculous benefits, this program would solve a different problem. I
was watching a show called the Human Body: Pushing the Limits, and it
discussed a man, blinded at age 7, who 40 years later had eye surgery and
could now see. It discussed how our experiences at a young age teach us
depth, velocity, and spatial recognition, as this man had trouble with it.
He knew what a curb was and what it felt like to be inside a car, but had
no experience with either of them visually, and could not estimate either
at any distance. So without experience to learn from, without something to
wrap our heads around and study, we continue to fall short, and observable
government has only just begun with sites like, democracynow,
demandprogress etc.

To the meat of my point - A program, as easily accessible and readily
available as twitter and wikipedia, that catalogs and tags events, people,
case studies, and so on. Consider it a multi-faceted fact checker. When
people claim abortion or banning abortion does one thing or another, a
person can go to this program or site, type in abortion, and return a page
covering either case studies, a definition, personal stories, etc. When
someone says that banning abortion is better for society, this program or
site will bring up the movie "Freakonomics" as a citation on the result
page, where the movie discusses how the producers found a significant
portion of poor society came from a particular era due to children who were
not loved, became criminal, had a much poorer education, etc because the
lives of the parent and the child were ruined because abortion was not
allowed, or was shunned, and showed that when abortion rates were reduced
naturally because parents cared more for their children because they were
wanted, or had the opportunity to save them both via abortion, there was a
period of time that crime, and dropout rates, etc, were lowered as a

This kind of thing would serve to prove or disprove governing techniques,
policy changes, societal effects of various treaties and "war on x" among
other things. I'm sure wikipedia would like to work with a program like
this, and all it would require is a simple algorithm, a well structured
result page that can be logically scanned, and a constantly updated and
improved tagging system. The worst part of it would be the case studies and
published journals, as those would need to be tagged for the simplest of
results, and/or read thoroughly, manually. For example a case study on meat
would appear in a search, and opening the case study would first describe
the basic findings of the study such as meat contains a lot of protein, has
bad amounts of fat and cholesterol, will typically be processed as such,
etc. If the user wants to know more, they can read it themselves, or these
basic findings can be linked to a page in the study.

Does everyone understand where I'm going with this? I'm typing from my head
so my thought process might make it difficult to read in some places.
Basically imagine the president deciding to do something, and the whole of
america can use this program and say, "No, you're wrong. Here's 3,000 facts
that say so, with references and everything, so don't be a scumbag because
our mom didn't tell us this - it's written down, studied, dissected and all
that great stuff. Read it or GTFO." Kind of like the war on drugs. Article
after article, study, and so on, proving that using prohibition and jail is
an utter failure, and yet we continue to rely on it to the detriment of
society at large, and to the benefit of the cartels and black money

I'd like to see this idea become a reality, and done to its potential,
unlike the Coursera and Khan Academy forms of education. Ugh. Why is it so
hard to do things right the first time?

P.S. - For anyone that has young children: Programming and social
engineering is the future. I feel the next era will be focused on
cyberwarfare, anti-monitoring techniques, and perhaps a more inward facing
society. Programming is limitless, but one must understand it mentally or
one will never learn it at all, and in a future society where everyone's
sphincters are a little tighter, social engineering will become a necessity
for survival.

Thanks for reading.
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