Uploading text

Early comments and conversations suggest that I didn’t get my point across when discussing the moods and changes of various armed services organisations with respect to emerging technologies.

The point I was trying to make was this:

An integral, essential part of the web as it is today is its writeability, its “liveness”. When you comment on a blog or add an entry to Wikipedia, what you are doing is uploading text. It is no different from what you do when you contribute a photograph to Flickr or a video to YouTube.

This writeability is key. It is what allows conversations to take place, learning to take place, democratised innovation to take place, culture to form and morph. It is what makes today’s web what it is.

You don’t have to participate. But you must have the right to. That is what makes today’s web different from yesterday’s web. Any organisation which seeks to gain value from today’s web needs to understand this. The web is two-way. So when you want to take advantage of YouTube, you need to understand this two-way-ness. And be part of it.

Sure, there is a difference between text and audio and image and video. To us. But not to the computer. As Bob Frankston keeps reminding me, it’s all bits. Nothing else. Deciding not to allow access to YouTube or Flickr or last.fm is a perfectly reasonable thing for the military to do. But that decision is a two-way decision. Neither up nor down. Or both.

That’s what I meant when I saw the “usual suspects being wheeled out”. Argue about security, sure. Argue about money, sure. But don’t argue about the two-way nature of the web and still expect to gain value from it.

5 thoughts on “Uploading text”

  1. JP, my only argument was with your posing “threat to security” as one of the “usual suspects” in an attack on “the enlightened group.” My point was that it took the military a while to recognize that two-way nature of the Web. Once they DID recognize it, they reacted to their “enlightenment” by deciding that, in their particular situation, that two-way nature would be counterproductive. There are plenty of other situations in which a two-way Web could be valuable; but, in this particular (rare?) case, I agree with Defense Department policy that military engagement is not one of those situations.

  2. I am aligned to the fact that military changed
    requires soldiers to have
    approval from their superiors for any blogs, photos, or E-mail
    correspondences that they send through their computers. I believe the
    military’s “command and control” style is there for a reason and will
    get disturbed if a two-way communication is allowed and
    gets out of control. I think conversations that are monitored
    and controlled in real life by design will sooner or later receive the same fate in the
    internet once people in authority get present to that. It’s a separate topic altogether if a “two-way”, democratic way of military governance is the most effective way to manage the troops. Just a side
    note, it seems the bandwidth issues are genuine

    as this
    report shows that these internet sites will not be blocked in larger bases that can have greater bandwidth.

  3. Interestingly, the gapingvoid widget in the sidebar shows “Stay ahead of the culture by creating the culture”

    In order to stay relevant the military needs to be “ahead” in multiple fronts and technology trends is one of them. Remember military needs *young* people – Gen M in the near future.
    On the one hand, a lot of lives are affected by the military, on the other military by its existance has underwritten a lot of Research and Development. The 2-way writable web humanifies. The relevance of military and the right balance rests on humanification.

  4. Both Jag and Balaji have made some interesting moves to advance the conversation that deserve further reflection.

    Jag’s point about monitoring and control in “real life” is particularly apposite to JP’s original position. This is as much a matter of corporate, as well as military, governance and with good reason. The corporate world also needs to be concerned about “threats to security,” particularly when changes are happening at “Internet speed.” The question of where the virtues of the two-way Web lie needs far more scrutiny than it has received thus far.

    Balaji’s comment about changing culture is one the United States has experienced. One the one hand there was the renaming of the Department of War to the Department of Defense. For me this was a cultural advance. Unfortunately, the introduction of the Department of Homeland Security has set back that advance, perhaps further back than it had been when we had a Department of War!

    Regardless of how we dole our names, I suspect that anyone who has directly experienced war knows that there is nothing humane about it. Thus, anything that “humanifies” is counterproductive to the conduct of war. (Remember the story of the “grass-roots Christmas truce” during the First World War and the reaction of high command.)

    As to the future role of Generation M, I must confess to the cynical belief that I am not sure they give much thought to the service of ANY institution, whether it is their national government or the military arm of that government; as far as I can tell, they are still down there on the self-gratification level of Maslow’s hierarchy!

  5. Stephen, do you know of any good translations of Von Kleist’s essay on gradually figuring out what you think while you are saying it? I think you referred me to it, but I can’t find the link.

    [Bill, I’m sure the link was in a Stephen comment or on Rehearsal Studio.]

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