Anything worth talking about, is worth blogging about

Rather than trying to convince Canadians to come to their point of view on the purchase of Joint Strike Fighters, our government, led by the Right Wrong Dishonourable Stephen Harper, has instead tried to influence public opinion by rewriting Wikipedia articles. Their attempt at a wikiality failed. From CBC:

A Defence Department spokesperson confirms computers at the department’s research agency were used to alter a Wikipedia page entry about the Joint Strike Fighter jet and the Conservative government’s decision to spend as much as $18 billion on the aircraft.

Those edits included the removal of information critical of the government’s plan to buy the jets and the addition of insulting comments aimed at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

As first reported in a story by Postmedia, Wikipedia traced the edits to computers owned by Defence Research Development Canada’s Ottawa offices. Wikipedia locked down the entry, labelled the changes as vandalism and only allowed recognized editors to work on the page.

See, they are defacing web pages. Vandalizing. In addition, there is the rather authoritarian tactic of removing the dissents of others. It’s entirely possible that a reasonable case could be made for purchasing these jets, but wikiality is not the way to do it.

In one entry, all information outlining the criticism of the jets and the plan to buy them was removed. In another, someone added that Ignatieff thought the deal to buy the planes for Canada was an “awesome, amazing decision to proceed with this contract.” In reality, Ignatieff has been critical of the sole-source contract, calling for a reconvening of the defence committee to examine the decision.

Another version of the entry inserted that Ignatieff has six toes on each foot.

Putting words in your opponents’ mouths and misrepresenting their positions, and making up juvenile stories about them. I would expect the government to know what’s going on with their own computers.

This incident is of course a good reason not to vote for the Conservative Party whenever the next federal election is held.

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Comments on: "Stooping to tactics so low" (20)

  1. While I agree that censorship is a despicable practice that only proves the person who does it wrong (because they don’t have a valid rebuttal, they attempt to silence their opposition), much of the blame here lies in wikis anyway.

    If Wikipedia and other such wiki sites were valid sources of information, it would have been very difficult to censor them anyway because you’d have to buy them off. Any time the general public can edit the information, you know you’re looking at inaccuracy.

  2. Part of this touches on one of the mixed blessings of the wiki system. It is excellent for breaking, rapidly-changing information and recent events. On things that happened ages ago, or that require specialized expertise, the coverage is going to be poorer. The likely reason is that WP’s user/editor base is probably always going to be far more interested in the latest pop star than in (for example) Heads of State of the Central African Republic.

  3. They ARE right more often about issues of pop culture, but they’re wrong enough of those too. Oh, and the wiki fanboys get their panties in a twist when you point out the inaccuracy of their wiki of choice. They go on defensive, and start attempting to convince themselves that you’re wrong so they can keep their faith in the wiki.

  4. That’s part of what you get with the democratization of information. You may have much more information, and easier access to it, but it’s less reliable. If someone lives in a bubble, where their beliefs are never threatened, they pretty much only pay attention to what confirms their beliefs, even if the arguments and reasoning presented are completely ludicrous. Such is the danger of cyberbalkanization.

  5. Well, that’s America in a nutshell. By the way, you’re in my blogroll now.

  6. The balkanization of media and people never having their beliefs challenged leads to extremeism; it leads to a lurching from one side to the other with no one able to compromise and save us from the foolish excesses of both the left and right.

  7. Or, in short, what America is now.

  8. The US would greatly benefits if people there were more informed, but we can’t force someone not to be ignorant.

  9. I agree. But the people in power wouldn’t. If people were more informed, they wouldn’t have gotten as much power as they have, and they would have been taken down.

    Also, the government would also have been taken down.
    What? You thought the government was in charge?

    The true enemy is not corporations, government, or ignorance. The true enemy is complacency. Kill that, and the others will soon follow.

  10. If people were more informed, they would be less esaily manipulated by unscrupulous politicians. They might still be angry at the government, but at least they’d know what they were mad about, instead of being worked up by the latest media talking point.

  11. If people weren’t so complacent, they would be less resistant to information, and actively seek more out. They would become more informed. They would also be willing to destroy those who hold them in cycles.

    I once compared American citizens to battered wives. They hate the position they’re in, but they fear that what happens if they are taken out of the situation may be worse, so they live with it. That’s complacency. They trick themselves into thinking they love it, and that it’s the best there is, when, in reality, they know better. They just don’t want to know better.

    And, while, if the American government is taken down, it may very well be worse than it is now, it could also be a lot better. We’ll never know until it happens. It will never happen until complacency is destroyed.

  12. Have you read the books Conservatives without Conscience by John Dean and The Authoritarians by Robert Altemeyer? Altmeyer’s book can be read online for free. They book cover how things like what is decribed in the comments are now important in US politics, and I cannot over-recommend them.

  13. I have not and, unfortunately, I cannot read them on-line. Somebody should tell them that black text on a white background is like reading off a lightbulb. This is why I will never own a Kindle or anything like it. Give me classic ink on paper any day. And, if I HAVE to read it on-line, make the text light and the background dark. Far easier on the eyes.

  14. Also, I guess it turns out the books are not on-line but downloadable PDF. I hate PDF so much I uninstalled Acrobat Reader so I could have an excuse to reject PDF’s people were attempting to send me and request they send it in a document format instead.

  15. CwC could be in your local library.

  16. Maybe. I’ll check next time I’m there.

  17. This is as good a reason as any to support Wikipedia (it appears that I drew the opposite conclusion from this as The Ceej). It would have been much more difficult for the government to change the information in a private encyclopedia, but once they did so it would be much more difficult to catch. In this case Wikipedia caught them in their vandalism, and the whole fiasco was made public. Free sources like Wikipedia are highly valuable — and as GNU proponents would say, that’s “free” as in “free speech”, not as in “free beer.”

  18. Good points. The internet does make it harder to keep secrets, and it pretty much never forgets, especially if something is public and decentralized.

  19. The internet makes it very hard to keep secrets, but it also makes it very hard to determine what is and isn’t reliable information. It’s sort of a double-edged sword, I guess.

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