No news is good news

This is a discussion on No news is good news within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Originally Posted by Sebastiani Maybe a good solution would be to start a blog-based movement where everyone reports facts independently ...

  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sebastiani View Post
    Maybe a good solution would be to start a blog-based movement where everyone reports facts independently and then just have some piece of software process it into a cohesive information base?
    assuming that were a "success", that would just create an illusion of omniscience.

  2. #47
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    In modern times there isn't a way for a government anywhere to get out of control without it being all over the planet in less than a few minutes.

    Any news that is or was important enough to talk about will or would be talked about in the workplaces of the world long before any negative impacts would be felt from the subject of the news story...if it were true.

    We are long past the days of WW2 when information was scarce and communications were primitive at best. Today we know about something or someone long before anything bad happens and by the time the bad does happen we are all so tired of the news story...most of us tune out anyways.

    Two words sum up the news for me.

    Information Overload.

  3. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    In modern times there isn't a way for a government anywhere to get out of control without it being all over the planet in less than a few minutes.
    I don't think that's anywhere near true.

  4. #49
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    I never used to believe that and it seems a bit presumptious to say it but in the age of lightning fast media I cannot see how anything can happen behind closed doors that doesn't eventually come to the surface somehow. It does reek of the same arrogance that sank Titanic and the same arrogance that allowed a mass murderer to lead a country but times have changed a bit since then.

    Now it is possible to spin the story prior to it breaking which very well could be used to misinform people and broadcast only to manipulate but the actual story itself will break no matter what.

    Certain countries are trying to stop bloggers and free speech in the internet and they may succeed to some extent but all of us know anything can be subverted or bypassed in computers. There's always a way and always someone out there willing to find it.

    But I understand your statement robwhit and I sort of agree with it but I also agree with mine. Trust me when I say I completely understand the danger in my statement and the attitude behind it.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 08-14-2009 at 08:46 PM.

  5. #50
    Guest Sebastiani's Avatar
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    If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really fall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    I never used to believe that and it seems a bit presumptious to say it but in the age of lightning fast media I cannot see how anything can happen behind closed doors that doesn't eventually come to the surface somehow. It does reek of the same arrogance that sank Titanic and the same arrogance that allowed a mass murderer to lead a country but times have changed a bit since then.

    Now it is possible to spin the story prior to it breaking which very well could be used to misinform people and broadcast only to manipulate but the actual story itself will break no matter what.

    Certain countries are trying to stop bloggers and free speech in the internet and they may succeed to some extent but all of us know anything can be subverted or bypassed in computers. There's always a way and always someone out there willing to find it.

    But I understand your statement robwhit and I sort of agree with it but I also agree with mine. Trust me when I say I completely understand the danger in my statement and the attitude behind it.
    The thing is, though, when we think about "spin", we usually imagine blatent bias, carefully chosen words, and unscrupulous intentions, but really even the most "straightforward" reporting (when based on generalized assumptions) can lead to the wrong conclusions.

    Suppose you recieved the following report:

    "Early this morning park rangers found a tree fallen over. According to officials, the tree was very old. There were no witnesses."

    Now assuming no misinformation, most would probably relate the following facts:

    1) What happened?
    - A tree fell over.
    2) Where did it occur?
    - In the forest.
    3) When did it happen?
    - Yesterday.
    4) Why did it happen?
    - It died of old age.
    5) Who was involved?
    - No one.

    In fact, none of those answers are really substantiated:

    1) It may have been that way to begin with (eg: grown that way, physically placed, etc) and simply went unnoticed.
    2) The report doesn't actually specify (eg: the rangers could have spotted it on the way to work, in their own yard, etc).
    3) It could have happened the day before, last week, ten minutes ago, etc.
    4) It also could have been pushed over, cut down, struck by lightning, etc.
    5) Someone may have seen it happen, but didn't report the incident (especially if they were somehow responsible).

    In other words, the only thing we know for certain is that there is a tree lying on the ground! So my point is simply that human perception tends towards the path of least resistance (ie: the most simple explanation) and our tendency to "fill in the blanks" is often responsible for much of the misunderstanding of the situation. All of those little missing details can add up to quite a different story! Couple that with the more insidious variety of spin that is so common, and what you get is the typical ignorance that prevails these days.

    None of this is revelationary, of course, but it is something I think we all overlook from time to time, so I just thought I'd point out the obvious, anyway.
    Last edited by Sebastiani; 08-15-2009 at 02:39 AM. Reason: speling

  6. #51
    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    Leading readers to faulty conclusions is not spin. Spin is taking a story that clearly says one thing and intentionally making it mean something else. Your example is too convenient because it doesn't even answer who, what, why, where, when, and how. I can't think of the last time an edited news story failed in such a spectacular way. Even if the story is wrong, journalism just doesn't happen like that.

  7. #52
    Guest Sebastiani's Avatar
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    No, but my point was that the effect can be identical. And to the contrary, there is a lot of news out there that doesn't answer many of those questions (perhaps not as spectacularly as the somewhat exaggerated example I gave, though). I'll give a current example from todays news:

    "Insurgents struck at the main symbol of the Western military presence in Afghanistan today, killing at least seven people and injuring nearly 100 others in a massive car bombing five days before nationwide elections."

    - "Insurgents" is a very vague term, and the statement is in fact unsubstantiated. For all we know, it could have been a disgruntled employee, a lunatic, or even an "inside job". Nowhere in the story does it provide any evidence to back up the claim.

    "The blast, just outside the front gate of NATO headquarters, was likely aimed at deterring Afghans from voting in Thursday's presidential and provincial assembly balloting, Afghan and Western officials said. The Interior Ministry blamed "enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan."

    - The correlation between the attack and voting is pure conjecture, yet it is stated as an almost obvious "fact". Also, the Interior Ministery's statement is a total non-sequiter and adds nothing to the story.

    "The attack, which took place about 30 yards from the main entrance to the base, also appeared designed to signal that insurgents can strike at will even in the capital's most heavily guarded districts."

    - You don't say?

    Point being, condense it down and you actually have very little real information to go on.

  8. #53
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    I found the Tree analogy very interesting indeed (if we keep to it. Analogies become useless once we try to build them further)

    I suppose lack of information can become information. And deliberate lack of information can be a form of spin. As observers we do tend to create facts from incomplete information. And I'm positive this has been a tool on the hands of the media. How often we hear or see a news report that seems to lead in one direction, only to have the reporter saying in the end, very hastily sometimes, "we don't know all the details yet"? This almost always trips me over the couch in anger.

    On the other hand, the media is notorious in vocabulary economy. Indeed, hidden behind the pretense it needs to serve all types of people, regardless of their education level, words like "insurgent", "terrorist", "newsflash", "europe", "american", "society", etc, are all used as general meaning deposits to hide the lack of an in-depth news coverage, as today more than ever most public access media is not a news source, simply news relay agents. The danger is that it is a lot more easy to manipulate public opinion if we get public opinion used to a lack of vocabulary. (Isn't tyranny easier if your population is uneducated?)

    Unfortunately they are right. Fact is most people don't care. They don't want to buy a newspaper. They don't want to exercise their criticism, they don't want to search for other news sources on a topic that might have interested them. So, it's a lone world for those few that, having done all those things, will catch the bus to work and everyone is commenting some special news of the previous day.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 08-15-2009 at 08:12 AM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  9. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    Unfortunately they are right. Fact is most people don't care. They don't want to buy a newspaper. They don't want to exercise their criticism, they don't want to search for other news sources on a topic that might have interested them. So, it's a lone world for those few that, having done all those things, will catch the bus to work and everyone is commenting some special news of the previous day.
    Are you one of those people? Do you have any news source recommendations?

  10. #55
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    What are you trying to say? Don't be shy.

    And yes, I have already mentioned a few sources I particularly like. Didn't you see? To that I'll add the Reuters website which I do use often, a couple Portuguese newspapers you wouldn't be interested in, but I'm sure you can find similar good references in your own country, and periodical magazines like Times.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  11. #56
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    >What are you trying to say? Don't be shy.

    I wasn't implying something about you, I just was wondering.

    > And yes, I have already mentioned a few sources I particularly like. Didn't you see?

    I forgot. this thread has been going for a while.

  12. #57
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    What are you trying to say? Don't be shy.
    He's trying to say you are obviously a fascist twerp Mario. :P

    Just kidding.

    Quote Originally Posted by robwhit View Post
    I forgot. this thread has been going for a while.
    IMO #1 problem at cboard and all or most other forums I've used is people not bothering to read a thread, but somehow becoming fixated on one post (usually from the first few, or the last few). I actually have ADHD, so I easily notice behavior that indicates an even shorter attention span than mine:

    "Well, now I'm finally here it is time to set get some things straight. Let me start from the beginning, since I am going to basically ignore everything else..."

    Interesting that you don't have time to read the thread, but you've got plenty to, as they say, "shoot your mouth off".

    Not really directed at you so much, robwhit*, but more of a generalization.

    *my fav comment in this thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by robwhit View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F.
    Name me one unbiased source of daily information
    first-hand experience.
    Problem is there is only one source for that
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  13. #58
    Guest Sebastiani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    I found the Tree analogy very interesting indeed (if we keep to it. Analogies become useless once we try to build them further)

    I suppose lack of information can become information. And deliberate lack of information can be a form of spin. As observers we do tend to create facts from incomplete information. And I'm positive this has been a tool on the hands of the media. How often we hear or see a news report that seems to lead in one direction, only to have the reporter saying in the end, very hastily sometimes, "we don't know all the details yet"? This almost always trips me over the couch in anger.

    On the other hand, the media is notorious in vocabulary economy. Indeed, hidden behind the pretense it needs to serve all types of people, regardless of their education level, words like "insurgent", "terrorist", "newsflash", "europe", "american", "society", etc, are all used as general meaning deposits to hide the lack of an in-depth news coverage, as today more than ever most public access media is not a news source, simply news relay agents. The danger is that it is a lot more easy to manipulate public opinion if we get public opinion used to a lack of vocabulary. (Isn't tyranny easier if your population is uneducated?)

    Unfortunately they are right. Fact is most people don't care. They don't want to buy a newspaper. They don't want to exercise their criticism, they don't want to search for other news sources on a topic that might have interested them. So, it's a lone world for those few that, having done all those things, will catch the bus to work and everyone is commenting some special news of the previous day.
    I agree, the choice of wording is definitely one of the most effective tactics used. A while back I read a story that basically went like this:

    "Fighting broke out in an Israeli neighborhood today after Islamic extremists attacked Israeli security forces."

    What it failed to mention, and was only later uncovered by a BBC report, was that the "neighborhood" was a new settlement that was being built on top of an existing Palestinian neighborhood, and the "attacker" was a man had lost some family members during the demolition! So while the original statement isn't strictly false, it's nonetheless misleading.

    The interesting thing is, most people don't even see through this sort of smoke-screen. They just blindly accept it, without even stopping to consider the presumptuousness of the "vocabulary economy" being used. It just goes to show how malleable public opinion really is.

  14. #59
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    What it failed to mention, and was only later uncovered by a BBC report, was that the "neighborhood" was a new settlement that was being built on top of an existing Palestinian neighborhood, and the "attacker" was a man had lost some family members during the demolition! So while the original statement isn't strictly false, it's nonetheless misleading.
    Nice. Perfect example.

    I heard somewhere that the people who write the story do not write the headlines for it. It did not used to be as bad but more and more I'm seeing headlines that do not actually convey what the story itself does. Headlines get people to buy and therefore they are subject to much propaganda and hype.

  15. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK27 View Post
    IMO #1 problem at cboard and all or most other forums I've used is people not bothering to read a thread, but somehow becoming fixated on one post (usually from the first few, or the last few). I actually have ADHD, so I easily notice behavior that indicates an even shorter attention span than mine:

    "Well, now I'm finally here it is time to set get some things straight. Let me start from the beginning, since I am going to basically ignore everything else..."

    Interesting that you don't have time to read the thread, but you've got plenty to, as they say, "shoot your mouth off".

    Not really directed at you so much, robwhit*, but more of a generalization.
    actually I did read the thread. how else could I have forgotten?

    and if you disagree with somebody "setting it straight", you can always post something and "set it straight" yourself, so I'm not sure what you think is a problem.

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