August 28th, 2008

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Link Harvest: Information Overload And Energy Taxes.

My thanks to nancylebov for the pointer to this piece on making it to expensive to blog via energy taxes to save democracy from information overload. It is actually a rather interesting example of taking a serious issue from one field ("how do information technologies impact tradition issues about news and information dissemination?") and tries to leverage it for something else (here, making energy more expensive so people will use less).

Unsurprisingly, the few people I've seen commenting on it are techno-geeks outraged over the idiocy of the suggestion that we should have policies that deliberately try to stifle speech so it can be "reduced" to "manageable levels" for our own good. But that is only one layer of the art form here. As an "art critic" for this, I will note that the author is actually from an environmental think tank which cares little about technology, democracy or technology as core issues except to the extent they impact environmental issues. This is an effort to make an unpopular proposal (energy tax to make overall use expensive) popular in certain corners by dressing it up in free market language and focusing it on people who hate blogs and/or consider them a useless distraction and waste of times (mostly conservatives and the computer semi-literate).

Hey, it worked for carbon cap-and-trade. Everyone calls carbon cap-and-trade a free market solution to pollution. It's actually a disguised carbon tax for exceeding carbon limits, but creates a set of voting stakeholders from low carbon users. So why not pretend an energy tax is really a "democracy enhancer" because it gets rid of those damn blogs?

But, as a professional in this area, I must say it is ridiculous and clumsy. I mean, come on guys! If you are going to dress something like this up you need a credible author, for one. There is no dearth of snooty journalism school folks who denounce the internet as the death of news and so forth. Get one of them to coauthor if you want to pretend this is desirable.

Amateur work. Feh.