A compilation of governance tools that
might deserve a programmer’s attention

The Revolution will be Engineered

  1. Assertion Processor – RSS feeds of facts that matter
  2. Constituents’ Issues Assessment and blog archives of comments
  3. Explicit vertical and horizontal linkages among like-minded individuals
  4. A citizen-based Administration elected by a citizen-based campaign
  5. Citizen-based (not faith-based) programs for training, jobs & mutual support
  6. Peer-to-peer vigilance through our personal sensors and shared video archive
    1. of terrorism
    2. polling place coercion
    3. brutality by armed and unarmed bureaucrats

1. Assertion Processor for the Great Centrist Party - Part C

The Assertions of Processing Assertions

Is the Internet a great place or what? About the time I went to bed, Ben Hammersley dug into The Processes of the Assertion Processor:

Caution, this is tremendously rough thinking. Early. Before breakfast. No coffee. Onward! I’m continuing on with thoughts about Britt’s Assertion Processor idea. This is about to get a bit tricky, so bail now if you want to.

I’m having problems with this. Once you get into anything other than the very basic, the amount of marking up is actually very considerable, as any news story worth its salt will have hundreds of different assertions. Remember, the basic building block of a fact is Subject Predicate Object…

…The more assertions, triples, whatever you call them, you throw into the pot, the more connections we can find between things.

[There are people on the planet who would be dismayed that Hammersley, the most obvious expert for this problem–a working tech journalist who wrote an RSS book, is a champion of the RDF flavor of RSS. This red herring gives us a chance to expend our collective energies on internecine warfare, like Democrats, rather than to meet the challenge at hand, like…hmm.]

Ben has coded up some RSS 1.0 examples for us, based on the Seymour Hersh article I used as an example. You qualified folks should review them at his site and pick up a mug while you’re at it. We non-techies must be content with a more general view.

Putting the Hammer Down

Ben seems to be designing a comprehensive system while I had in mind a format for bread crumbs. This distinction is not evidence of a fundamental argument about the nature of knowledge aggregation! Ben and I are having fun working on this project and I’m enormously grateful for his knowledge and point of view.

By bread crumbs, of course, I’m thinking of how Hansel & Gretel found their way home. I want RSS bread crumbs to help our country find its way home. Each author or editor or reviewer tags an article, not completely, but with the elements that make it interesting and that validate its point. Like blogs, no assertion is to be trusted on its own merits, but rather by how it’s been honored by the Linkosphere. This troubles governments and big time journalism, but is the only reasonable basis for fact-based governance.

It doesn’t seem necessary to build a centralized repository tying every mention of <actor>Richard Perle</actor> in the Hersh article to all other instances of <actor>Richard Perle</actor>. I’ll leave that up to whoever hosts the Richard Perle Assertion Aggregator. Inquiring minds want to be able to find the articles in our news readers and we’ll also be hoping that someone assembles the most authoritative ones among them into a timeline.

My ignorance of the mechanics allows me to imagine that properly tagged assertions would allow a script to generate a timeline like this example, which I found at the Project for the New American Century.  Without attribution, these assertions are uncompelling, especially if you’re new to the Iran Contra scandal (and the ethical mindset that made it a scandal). As Dr. Dean says, “We can do better than this.” I want RSS feeds, not collected and served from a central database, but available for post-processing so that better timelines than this can be generated automagically. I don’t want actual magic–just a sufficiently advanced technology.

Imagine that the following contains links to the supporting information:

IRAN CONTRA SCANDAL
October Surpriseallegation
10/80
Reagan-Bush campaign makes secret pact with Iran to delay release of the Embassy hostages until after the November election, in return for future covert arms sales.
         
Reagan takes oath of office.
1/20/81
Hostages held in the American Embassy in Iran released. Reagan takes oath of office.
         
         
         
An Israeli official suggests a deal with Iran to then-national security adviser Robert McFarlane
7/85
saying the transfer of arms could lead to release of Americans being held hostage in Lebanon. McFarlane brings the message to President Reagan.
 
8/30/85
The first planeload of U.S.-made weapons is sent from Israel to Tehran.
 
9/14/85
The first American Hostage is released.
Reagan secretly signs a presidential ‘finding,’ or authorization…
12/5/85
…describing the operation with Iran as an arms-for-host
ages deal.
         
Etc., etc., etc.

Now is that too much to ask? Does anyone else like this idea? Buehler? Buehler?

12:07:02 PM    

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