Maintaining the narrative

Technology is one of those topics that still hasn’t bled out. For many it is an untouchable mystery and a compendium of magic spells. That means it is also hubris bait. This can be seen in ‘news reporting’ that attempt to maintain a political narrative. Charlie Martin describes examples in Technical Hooey from the White House

the stories demonstrate a lot more knowledge of politics and attention to the “nasty, stupid Bush administration” theme than they show technical knowledge.

The larger narrative is that the previous administration was dumb, ignorant, incompetent, etc, etc, The new administration is trying to use that narrative as a foil to show that it is smart, educated, competent, etc, etc, – and cool!

The problem is that no one gets to the White House with the attributes often assigned to the previous administration by its opponents. That narrative can only succeed if it is based on an ignorance of real world phenomena maintained by gullibility.

One of the real world phenomena to deal with is that of the paranoia about the Executive Branch that has resulted in legislation that burdens necessary security and the need for confidential consideration of issues and positions. That means that communications systems are restricted in many ways. Those who work in the world of large corporations know about some of these kinds of restrictions such as those that attempt to inhibit recreational use of the I’net and those that attempt to protect trade secrets. Government has rather more important security issues to deal with.

What it does tell us, though, is that readers who want to be well informed can’t afford to let down their guards. Clearly, the legacy media and even technical experts are perfectly capable, and more than willing, to be led astray, as long as it fits the “dumb Bush administration” narrative.

There are things you can look for to raise your skeptic’s threshold. The use of derogatory globals is a key clue on any topic (e.g. “technological dark ages”). Implied superiority based on personal preference is another (e.g. the Mac vs PC debate). Obfuscation via technobabble, referring to unfamiliar technologies and using technical wording, is also a means to hide reality.

The sad part is that there is no need for this. A record can be made based on achievements that is a much more solid record than one built on a false referent.

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