Thursday, 6 February 2014

Poor Tim – deselected by the web

When I’m chatting with my better half over a glass of port with the log-burner flickering away and the wind whistling round the chimney, she often has to look up bits and pieces of information on her phone.

Nothing unusual in that, but this tiny gadget gives us access to more information than we could ever have imagined just a couple of decades ago. What difference is it making to our lives?

A few centuries ago there were chained libraries and books with locks because books were expensive and not for the common people.

Today, the ancestors of the common people are able to access anything they please from an unimaginably vast repository of information, news, comment and entertainment. Most of it dross of course, but how many of us would care to read the contents of a chained library anyway?

It changes the balance of power in subtle and not so subtle ways.

We assess the capabilities of our political leaders more easily and don’t have to rely on establishment media to do it. We bypass the genteelly selective BBC and look around for sources we trust and visit them as often as we choose.

Social status is far less important as a route to sound information. A good example is how far behind the curve our leaders are on fracking. Many of us knew about the benefits long before they did, just as we have known for years that climate science is an unholy mess.

It’s impossible to be completely sure of all this, with our political class being so untrustworthy, but their mendacity is something we are aware of too. We don’t suspect – we know.

We know some of them are thick, some dishonest, some personally unreliable, some sexually deviant, some arrogantly aggressive and a few may be good eggs but the good eggs don’t usually get anywhere. We may know all this in some detail, where years ago it was all glossed over by compliant pundits.

Is it likely to make a difference though? I don’t see how it can fail. Narratives are multiplying and for every item of establishment pap there is a more reliable, less ameliorative source of information readily available.

We have reached a stage where no intelligent person takes the BBC as reliable on any subject with an establishment narrative. This is new and unless the BBC changes, its authority has gone for good.

The deselection of Tim Yeo may have had a number of causes, but one of them was surely the persistent wash of negative information telling us about the man, the games he plays and how effective he is as an MP.

It isn’t merely that the negative information on Yeo exists, but it is far more pervasive than it ever could have been in the comparatively recent past. The web seems to keep issues alive in a way which in pre-web days was rare.

Pressure could be brought on newspaper editors and stories would disappear if indeed they ever appeared in the first place. Now anyone may launch a story and if it spreads there is little others can do. Even court injunctions have been circumvented.

The world has changed and I’m sure we have yet to see the full consequences. Although Tim has had a taster.


Sackerson said...

Excellent post!

A K Haart said...

Sackers - thanks!

Mark Wadsworth said...

Well yes, Yeo was an outrageous trougher who should have been sacked or imprisoned years ago, good riddance.

But more interesting is your view on fracking? We know it makes gas and that's all good, but are any of the horror stories founded in fact?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Forgot to tick box.

Mac said...

So true and I agree with every word.

We now have the where-with-all to be our own researchers should we so wish but you also need an inquiring mind which, for those of us of an age, was encouraged and fostered during our education thus any news of any import, be it reported by the left or the right, we know that the truth quite possibly lies elsewhere or in-between and go looking for it. The Daily Mail? An absolutely cracking tale but better check a few facts! The BBC? It’s the truth Jim, but not as we know it!!

Could this thirst for the truth and the ease of finding it, so recently blossomed with the Web, soon just whither on the vine as us of an age shuffle off? Consider this as you walk the highways and byways of our cities and towns today, and cast about at the products of our ‘modern’ education system. It soon becomes apparent that very few have ever contemplated the concept of a ‘surface’ let alone considered scratching below it.

A K Haart said...

Mark - fracking seems to be safe enough if well regulated. There are lots of negative stories, but most seem to be exaggerated, often wildly. That's a real problem though - who to trust.

Water contamination shouldn't be a problem because the issue has been solved technically. However, if a fracking outfit screws up...

Mac - good point - it bothers me too. Is the thirst for truth merely down to we oldies having something we never had before? If so then as you say, the enthusiasm will come to an end.