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The Extinction Game (or “Saving the Internet from its Detractors”)

Posted by inspir3d on March 3, 2007

Recently the politics of fear have been directed towards the internet. It may have been by design or simply the result of flawed thinking, but whatever it is, the result is clear. By deliberately demonizing everything to do with the net, critics suggest in broad strokes that the internet is nothing more than predation, the devil incarnate – it’s a claim that, by highlighting the obvious, doesn’t take much imagination to shore up: the moral turpitude of porn, falsities in conspiracy theories, visceral posts from racists and a handful of cases involving deceit, not to mention the internet’s nature as “feral” or a “free for all.” It’s a scene that suggests we are all suddenly going to sink inexorably into a moral cesspit.

To suggest sex fiends, confidence tricksters, conspiracy theorists and hucksters exist in the internet is certainly a palpable truth – to even suggest that these elements constitute a threat to the young and will ultimately confuse, mislead and even prey on the unsuspecting is probable. But arguments which neither consider the good currency of the internet nor attempt to draw out a trade off or even cost/benefit calculation of the internet are nonsensical.

One reason accounting for this misalignment is there is no shortage of arm chair pontificators who are quite willing to play the part of inquisitor here. Take your pick – two bit reporters, obscure academics and even politicians are jumping on board the internet bashing bandwagon, never mind that these people hardly spend any time even attempting to acquaint themselves with the various attributes of the net – never mind that none of them even bother to blog. Even those who claim to do so, don’t venture beyond the apparently safety their rarified cloisters. These days like self-proclaimed end-of-the-world gurus, or UFO specialists, it doesn’t take very much to qualify as an internet critic or even garner a cachet of supporters. One simply needs a healthy dose of McCarthyism and a worn mantra that bears repeating.

By deliberately engaging in the politics of fear without considering the good currency in the internet, they demonstrate one of a few states of minds which continue to bother me no end (apart from asking myself how they even manage to tie their shoelaces, given the limits of their processing power). For one, when obliquely proposing the cure for this state of apparent chaos can only be brought forth by legislation, they don’t even realize they are doing more harm then good.

These commentators demonstrate a woeful lack of understanding for what actually constitutes much of the aggregation which makes up the internet scene: the apparent anarchy which currently exists in the net is merely an artifact of its infancy. It’s the same observable primordial phenomenon that once spawned life on this planet. All organisms eventually undergo a phase of rationalization before convalescing from a state of anarchy to hierarchy, the internet is no exception to this rule. The expanding melting pot of tacit knowledge, gossip and trivia that floats around electronically during its early days (and the evening is still very young) is not so different than the babble which once existed in tribal memory characterizing much of the dawn of mankind. Ultimately the exigencies of commerce will make it’s debut upon this haphazard world and give it a coherent form and direction.

It only requires the lateral train to figure out even the invention of the internet falls into this non linear model: originally conceived by academics to facilitate long distance communication, it was eventually adopted by the military as a communication tool, only to fragment into the private sphere with the demise of the cold war – ultimately invading even the individual sphere. In the course of that haphazard migration, it spawned a revolution that generated billions of dollars and created thousands of new jobs. Firms such Google, Youtube or even the evil empire in the guise of Microsoft, are simply the modern equivalent of momentous transitions from collective memory to one not so different from the first human attempts to inscribe words on clay and stone. It is simply a form of development and progress in the truest sense of the word.

However, to believe these transitions have evolved without any social cost in the form of having to accommodate the bad currency, in the hope that the good will eventually prevail, is naïve. In truth much or all of the developments we see these days in the internet never once emerged from the school of linearity or from centralized planning in the guise of command and control. Instead, they were driven by accidental forays primarily by individuals who didn’t even have the basic skillsets associated with management or anything remotely to do with entrepreneurship. Rather much of the innovation was driven by human curiosity and ingenuity by leveraging specifically on “creativity.”

This naturally throws out the question: what is the cost to creativity, if the internet is eventually regulated? What is the cost? Yes, I asked it twice, it bears repeating only because it remains obvious to me that these serious questions have neither been fully trashed out nor even given a perfunctory moot beyond the superficial by either policy makers or those who continue to delude themselves that there are no penalties associated with regulating the internet. Otherwise why do policy makers continue to disparage the internet by relegating it to the domain of the feral and irrelevant? Why does the MSM continue to hold only an unimaginative impression of the internet by stoically labeling it as a “dangerous” place that should be avoided at all cost?

That sort of myopic logic only holds true if one subscribes to the belief that everything must necessarily conform to the law of linearity and we no longer live so much in a world of implications and consequences as we do in a world where we are able to control and manage everything. It’s a corrosive view, one that is not only fundamentally flawed, but breeds a righteousness not dissimilar to the ills brought forth by the US inspired war against terror – that if one examines at its core, attempts to justify very complex problems through a process of simplification by alluding itself to the fantasy, there are no penalties associated with the war against terror.

Many who blindly support this flawed metaphor fail to recognize the visceral cost that it has in retarding creativity, namely managing intellectual capital on a national level. While all remain unanimous, the threat of terrorism can never be taken lightly. The decision nexus to impose draconian restrictions on the free flow of human capital signals a profound failure on the part of US policy makers to understand what’s required to maintain an atmosphere of innovation.

Ideas do not grow on trees, neither are they mined like minerals. Great ideas emerge from the bedrock of creativity; they come from people. People commit a line on a piece of paper to design a plane or a microwave oven; people flesh out the marketing manifesto by starting businesses; people are process owners that see ideas through from the realm of theory through to reality. And good ideas can only emerge from people who are allowed to exercise human ingenuity through experimentation by trial and error – it’s one that transforms creativity into a strategic asset that is as important as land, water or any other commodity that gives a nation a competitive edge.

Policy makers failed to comprehend the link between people, creativity and the consequences of their actions as in the American experience – by failing to ask themselves what the true cost of keeping America safe is. By the same token the same question can be asked: what is the true cost of regulating the Singaporean internet scene?

In the case of the US the cost of keeping her safe through overzealous regulation of the movement of human capital has led to labor squeezes and chronic shortages in skills to effectively support the American economy. It’s a cost that casts long and disturbing shadows on America’s looming creativity crisis, and will take years to pan out. These things don’t show up till much later. This cost will ultimately threaten the supremacy of US technological innovation – unlike minerals that can be hoarded or warehouses that can be substituted, human capital or how it may choose to behave under a given set of circumstances is not so easy to predict.

Humans carry with them an anagram of who, why and how, which continually compels them to redefine themselves against the known world. Any policy that is designed to regulate behaviorism needs to appreciate these long term complexities. Social eugenics programs such as regulating population growth may be all too easily launched such as “two is company, three is a crowd,” but reversing their long term effects from the anagrams of humans is almost impossible. Similarly, tinkering with strategic assets such as creativity or even something as basic as language carries its own set of implications. When nationalism during the early 80’s led to a reformation of the education system that promoted Bahasa Malaysia at the expense of standard English, the Malaysians gave birth to the generation of the confounded.

My point is simply this: like the war against terror, or the social eugenics program we once carried out, policies would benefit greatly by calculating the trade offs between current security and long-run commercial competitiveness. This means a trade off analysis needs to be undertaken to consider the level at which the bad currency in the internet poses a danger to the individual and the state, against the good currency and how creativity can be nourished by leaving it alone. It’s an approach that attempts to bring in rationality into the whole internet debate, by proposing a calculus that recognizes the strategic importance of creativity.

To say that blogging has no commercial value beyond sustaining a underground culture where a free for all is allowed to run wild is for the moment true, this I do not dispute (only because it is futile to reinforce failure). But to continue to insist it will remain this way against the technological changes that are sweeping the internet just demonstrates a serious lack of understanding for what is required to manage change. Even if the sum of all Mr Brown’s satires or Yawning Bread’s lamentations about how gays have been down trodden do not amount to very much beyond casual reading and have little immediate practical value or influence, it would be absurd to dismiss them all as irrelevant, just as it would have been to dismiss the Wright brothers when they observed fitches in mid autumn flights or even to dismiss Kant’s project for perpetual peace as irrelevant to the world of Napoleon.

The utilitarian calculus of only wanting to see what one wants to see, instead of perceiving events and phenomena for what they really are and what potential they may hold continues to be a travesty of rational reasoning. It is one that denies the possibility that even the simple act of blogging will one day yield the promise of a new hope, where jobs and revenue can be created by specifically leveraging on the power of creativity. It is one that makes me shake my head no end when I read as I do continually, about the one dimensional accounts of why the internet is predation. From where I stand, the internet still holds out the hope of salvation for millions.

It is time for a new compact to define not only the role of the MSM alongside the blogosphere, but also how bloggers may one day sit alongside the long bench with policy makers and pontificators, and where all agree this is where creativity resides and it is a strategic asset that must be nurtured, nourished and above all left alone. It is time. Otherwise we may just end up studying shadows against the wall somewhere in the distant future mulling over the prospects of why we didn’t ask the question that needed asking. And with these words, we might as well play the role of the last man standing as his voice filters through the darkness,

“Is anyone there? Please. Is anyone there?” If we are not careful, we may just find ourselves playing the extinction game.

(By Darkness / Science / Internet / EP 9938292 / 2007 / The Brotherhood Press 2007)


20 Responses to “The Extinction Game (or “Saving the Internet from its Detractors”)”

  1. astroboy said

    The extinction game – the knight and man called death.

    Death says:

    “Consider very carefully your moves my fine knight, they will reverberate through history even long after you have perished.”

    knight says:

    “Yes that is true death.”

  2. Ben said

    hear for truth is being spoken 🙂

  3. heartlander said

    The question that is being asked by our policy makers: which cost is more important to them. The cost of compromising their positions or the cost of stifling creativity. The choice is clear. To use foreign talents to fill the creativity gap, they can choose to let them go when their “cost to them” is too high. But they are not too worried, foreign talents find that Singapore is a good parking lot. For Singaporeans, they create “Hotel California” to stay – “You can checkout any time you like, But you can never leave!”. The problem is that Singapore cannot claim that they have their own true creative minds.

  4. repairman said

    Now they know what they score is. It is just not moving in on us. There is a price. We life in a world of consequences, make you move! Go on history will record your name down.

  5. repairman said

    I didnt known my rights before.

  6. janice said

    It was very silly of the ST to have written such a one sided article abt the internet. I really think it spooked those space boys. To them anything that threatens their economic interest will simply have to be neutralized.

    They have obviously up the ante by writing this article. They are telling those who are behind the witch hunt, there is a cost to your actions. It is not just a matter of switching off the lights, there will be consequences and implications from your actions. Because bambi’s point is so simple that it can be told in a single sentence, he tells it again only from different angles. Each time it heightens the terror. He takes a concept like the American war against terror and tells us what the cost is to American technology. He is telling them there is a price if you want to witch hunt. So the ball is now on your court, go a head move your pieces

  7. pumpman said


    You mentioned the “good currency” in the context of the internet, but what exactly is it in the context of blogging? Another thing the calculus what you are proposing – how does this compliment yr strategic architecture? I think blogging is fun but I dont see where it fits into the strategic jigsaw. I hope this isnt a dumb question that you will ignore. Reg Pumpman.

  8. General Announcement said

    The brotherhood Press will be closing down for a 2 week period. We believe the webmaster will also be taking this period to improve your readership experience. We will be servicing our servers during this period and shall return.

    Meanwhile we wish you all happy reading.

    The Chronicler

  9. matahari said

    I have followed these people long enough to know they dont need to close down to service anything! – that’s bs. They are closing down to show those people who are witch hunting the internet that there is a penalty to their actions and it will simply cost them a huge chunk of creative qoutient i.e the good currency will pack off like a circus troupe and go somewhere else.

    I fear they may have already pulled out of singapore blogland. From now onwards everything will just go very silent. Like he said, “is anybody there?”

    They are gone. It has just gone a bit darker in singapore blogland.

    Farewell and goodbye boys!

  10. last mohican said

    Is anyone there? Please. Is anyone there?


  11. klaron said

    Hello 🙂

    Very interesting angle once again. I never ever thought abt it that way bfr. However I am inclined to agree, it is very difficult to pin down the exact value of creativity, but to suggest it exist in the net and should be “nourished” makes alot of sense. I believe one of the main problems with policy makers and even the MSM is while they all do pay lip service to the idea of encouraging creativity and innovation. They have not really reached an agreement that creativity necessarily resides in the internet or even in blogging. There could be many reasons why they have not reached this realization, it could be lack of exposure, communication or even as darkness mentioned because they are just plain ignorant or bochap.

    One way is by increasing the level of communication between the MSM and the internet, but I really dont believe the MSM is that interested. It is really a conflict of interest. This is where politicians need to come in and drive the whole thing. They need to take a pro-active role in making sure everyone understands as darkness mentioned the strategic importance of nourishing creativity.

    Btw, I am just asking but does “nourishing” mean nurturing or planning? Isnt that a form of interference? I am a bit blurr here. thxs

  12. PUB said

    knock knock is anyone home? Hullo? checking gas meter la

  13. guppy said

    No doubt abt it. I can feel these things in my bones. Those boyz have definitely skipped town. I know their modus operandi very well through the years. I guarantee you all this 100%. This 2 weeks rubbish is just a diversionary tactic. No doubt about it.

    They know things we dont know. They always do. They can smell trouble ten miles away and they know trouble is coming. All these negative press reports about blogging and internet etc. Mr Wong.K.S mentioning the internet is a big threat etc. Now I hear from my media colleagues even the producers of blog TV has stolen astroboys “conspiracy theory” post and they are using it without even attributing him any credit. All this is definitely leading up to something that makes them jittery.

    Those boys are reading it loud and clear, that is why they have skipped town ridding off with the crazy horses.

    They have all gone. Otherwise why show the scene out of the seventh seal. Its a Swedish film about the end game right? Only one person walks out of that game and it is always death. Besides if I am not mistaken darkness wears the same strange looking cap as death in the virtual gaming world. I dont know what to call it except something that reminds me of baby head gear. So may be he is telling us in not so many words.

    The game is finally over folks. This is not the first time they have done this.

  14. kylie said

    😦 Errh Guppy, you could be right, I really hate to admit it, but I am having alot of problems even logging in to this site. 😦 I think those boys are quietly disconnecting some cables, switching off some stuff or moving their barang away. Something strange seems to be happening. 😦

  15. anon said

    Hello administrator & the brotherhood,

    With due respect to other bloggers, there is precious little to read these days on the local scene. I really do not know who is responsible for this decision to either hold all post and I really do not care for the reasons either.

    The brotherhood press has done a very good job recently of building a rapport with their readers. Many of us after a hiatus from the internet has as a result returned to reclaim what darkness likes to call, “our right to read and think.” We may not agree all the time with what those boys write, but it is certainly true and I am sure I speak for all, they definitely have a diabolically clever flair for creative and serious writing. So it is very sad to see they have once again reverted to their infantile way of resolving conflict by pulling out from the singapore blogosphere. Apart from showing a complete lack of regard for their dedicated readership. They are also showing us all how immature they really are. I do hope some measure of influence can be brought to bear on the person or persons who is responsible for this decision. Readers are not easy to cultivate, once a rapport is built, it must be consistently sustained through dedicated care and attention. You cannot expect to cultivate a long term relationship, if you keep standing us up, once is fun, twice strains it somewhat, but after the third, fourth and umpteen time, it gets terribly boring and irritating. And most of us will just say, its not really worth it putting up with the lousy internet experience. I really hope someone will take responsibility for this and proceed to right it as soon as possible. I dont think it requires much effort either, a call or e-mail by darkness would solve this matter.

    My concern is the owners of this site may actually be facilitating their deception they will be returning after 2 weeks. This reminds me of one incident in icered many years ago, when they shut down the forum overnight and told everyone they would be back after servicing their servers after one week. One week lapsed into two, three, four and after a six months hiatus they re-opened again, but they were all gone. Everything was still there of course, but they were all gone. I really hope the same disappearing act will not be played out again. For some reason, they seem to think it is fun to play hide and seek only to reappear again on another site. It fits into their underground bad boy image. Yes, we always forgave, but they fail to understand everytime they pull this sort of shenanigan, the rapport thins just a bit, credibility grows dimmer and the lustre of confidence dulls.

    I really hope someone will look very seriously into this heartfelt complaint. BTW pls do not flame me and do try to take this constructively.

  16. earthquake aid worker said

    Hi Kylie & friends,

    I am new here, many be those boys are just running away from the earthquake? I read once horses, dogs, birds and cats can sense danger long before it hits them and that is why they take off. Just joking ok! Have a productive week.

  17. sumiko said

    Time and again. We keep seeing the same pea brained decisions at work. This never ceases to surprise me. For an outfit that clearly has so many smart pants, it is mind boggling how the really dumb ones are often the decision makers. Again we see them either shooting themselves in the foot or tying an anvil to their ankles and jumping into the singapore river.

    Can you imagine the BBC shutting down for 2 weeks? What about the NYSE? Or the Herald Tribune? MRT? Changi airport? PSA?

    At least if they wanted to shut down, they could have the decency to run another mini series to keep their readers warm or perhaps even considered running darkness’s highly popular travelogue series, but no, it’s hello, bang and we have to go now thank you very much. Please go and dont bother coming back, btw no one will be here either waiting for any of you. This will simply have to be my last post here. Really it is matter of principle. Good riddance and try not to vomit in space, there is no gravity! I hope you all choke while brushing your teeth, especially darkness!

  18. milli said

    Maybe they really just need to fix their servers. I heard from my sis’s hubby who plays their game. Their recent cyber war with a rival force damaged many of their hardware.

  19. omo said

    Personally I think they are gone. It is really sad, crazy horses have gone as well. It seems we can get ppl to come, but for some reason, we dont seem to be able to retain them. But I am sure they will crop up somewhere again. They always do, dont they?

    BTW is anybody there? Anyone?

  20. Omo said

    Astroboy shouldnt feel bad abt blog TV plaigarising what he wrote – I dont normally post, never, but I just want to tell him. I miss them all very much. Especially Astro. Darkness is nice and all that but he is not that humorous, more like a strong cuppa, dark, handsome and strong, not my type. I prefer the easy going, care free and dogged eared.

    He should know that flattery is the best compliment, smacks love u all!

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