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A Guide For Socio-Political Bloggers to Survive The Extinction Event

Posted by intellisg on August 19, 2007

survive.jpgWhat’s the Dodo program again? – The proposition: that socio-political blogging accomplishes nothing because it’s sorely lacking in affirmative action.

This is gloss from a two part series, albeit with my own personal twist on how Socio-political bloggers can survive the extinction event. If you have not read the two part series please do so, as it will provide you the foundation to understand much of what I have to present in this article.

Part 1 and Part 2

This is my first attempt at “machine” writing with the kind guidance of my colleagues who have both been patient and very helpful to give me insightful tips. I has always been one of my dreams to write for the brotherhood press and this is a debut article.

The general theme is to tie in many of the loose ends mentioned in Part I and II of this series. Along with this I have also highlighted the importance of setting the right expectation, perspective and strategy for both blogger, readers and researchers if they are to thrive in this brave new age of the internet.

I hope all of you enjoy it. Happy Reading. Aurora. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Economics, Politics, Sociology | 36 Comments »

Is it the “end” for Socio-Political Blogging? – Nailing the Dodo, Part II

Posted by intellisg on August 19, 2007

dodo-2.jpgThis is the second of a 2 part essay.

You can really call it what you want. For me, the whole idea of floating the balloon “socio-political blogging doesn’t accomplish anything just because it’s a wind bag” is as close to buying into Dodo software.

The term deployed is precise, premeditated and deliberate because taken to its logical end Dodo software is just lousy and unimaginative thoughtware – follow it to the ‘T’ and don’t be surprise if it you end sitting in a cave picking ticks off your mate while the rest pick entrails to make sense of the destiny of mankind’s fate.

The whole proposition of linking socio-political blogging with affirmative action or even doing something is flawed because firstly, it imposes a corseted definition on ‘usefulness’ in the context of how it’s able to solicit real and meaningful change. It’s not so different from saying anyone who is over six-foot is tall and useful, and those who fall short of this criteria must simply be relegated to the ranks of “useless.” That’s hardly a new theme. Every age crafts their own respective measures of what constitutes an effective means to solicit social change. Even in ordinary speech, it’s to be seen every where often taking the guise, “get on your bike” – “go and do something useful” – don’t just talk, make it happen” – it’s appears cogent, persuasive even to suggest seeing to be doing something remains the only to effect real change.

However, there is a fatal flaw in holding on to this logic as it elides whole sale the need to first address the first protocol of reasoning: Where are we? What is our environment? What is the best way to cut the cake? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Economics, Politics, Sociology | 22 Comments »

Is This “The End” For Socio-Political Blogs?

Posted by intellisg on August 17, 2007

dodo.jpgYou all know what Dodo birds are don’t you? The Dodo aka Raphus cucullatus was a flightless bird which once lived a placid existence on the island somewhere in West Indies. The dodo has gone the way of the dinosaur since the mid-to-late 17th century. It is commonly used as the archetype of describing lousy thoughtware that leads to inexorable extinction. The phrase “it’s history like the dodo” means undoubtedly and unquestionably dead beyond all possibility of recall. The stuff of gone with the wind, kaput, habis, finito etc. The verb phrase “to go the way of the dodo” means you’ve just bought yourself a one way ticket to the end of the road.

Recently, I came across a Dodo statement, don’t ask me where I read it, but it’s probably very near a place where the road runs out and after that a cliff follows. The statement goes like this:

“I share a common view with Alex Au (aka Yawning Bread) that there is an over optimistic view that the internet is the answer to the tipping point for political change in Singapore. In reality, it does not work for a few reasons. First of all, there is no direct translation of activity from social political blogs to the real world. Most of us (including myself) are armchair critics. If Martyn See’s video is that effective, the political parties involved should all be helping those poor people out there. Has there been any action taken to help those poor people? Has anyone alerted the authorities that we need to help those people? It is the lack of action that convinces me that the social political blogs in Singapore do not have an influence in the off-line world.”

Do you really want to know why I believe this statement deserves the Dodo award of the year? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Sociology | 32 Comments »

The ‘Word,’ That Could Change Our World

Posted by intellisg on July 30, 2007

world-word.jpgYou would have thought one of the hardest problems for any technologist to grapple with is the nuts and bolts making a product work. In fact, nothing can be further from the truth, the annals of tech history suggest, making stuff work typically constitute only 12% of the success factor. This leads us to consider what’s the other 88% that kills innovative ideas from emerging triumphantly into the market place? What’s the name of the grim reaper that lurks in the wings responsible for this dismal rate of failures?

Do you want to know his name? Do you want to know how kill him before he cuts you down? That could just be the difference between ending up as a statistic or getting ahead of the crowd. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Technology | 9 Comments »

Why “Civil Disobedience” Is a Game Clever People Never Play!

Posted by intellisg on July 26, 2007

civildis.jpgI am sure we’ve all considered it. One time or another, the whole idea of peaceful “civil disobedience”(CD). As an undergraduate, I remember boycotting a lecturer for a whole semester. I didn’t like the way he picked on me (real or imagined). I even made doubly sure, I studied triple hard just in case, he tried to do me in on a technicality. At the end of it, I earned a distinction and I felt vindicated. I had proven my point in empirical even scientific terms – not only did I pass. I scored a distinction! While it lasted, I was the darling of campus as a veritable Martin Luther, my distinction even acquiring the patina of Magna Carta. I had proven without a shadow of doubt, by removing myself peacefully from the “process” the “system,” he (the offending lecturer) was truly irrelevant to my destiny!

But let’s be honest. How effective is the idea of peaceful Gandhi styled CD these days? Does chucking in blogging really make a difference to the system? Is deploying the dreaded black arts of “bochapness” and “dowanlah” styled CD capable of soliciting change in people, institutions and governments these days?

I wonder…. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Sociology | 20 Comments »

The Perils of Living in an Apathetic Society.

Posted by intellisg on July 22, 2007

apathetic.jpgWe’ve all heard it before, haven’t we? – “We are living in a politically apathetic society.” Do we even care if Mickey Mouse or Barney the magical dinosaur runs for the post of secretary general in the UN? Do they even show the slightest interest in politics? Name me five cabinet ministers? There you see!  We are just plain apathetic aren’t we? Is this a local thing? Or is apathy like the bubonic plague spreading insidiously across every major city in the world, jading whole masses of people turning them into indifferent, ambivalent and door knob zombies?

What does it mean for us to live in this new age of bochapness? Do you really want to know? Sorry, really I am, so-so sorry allow me to re-phrase in prosaic terms: do you dare to know what it means to live in an apathetic society? That’s to say do are you man enough to face the truth? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Sociology | 25 Comments »

HAL, You’ve Been Invited for Tea! – A Singaporean Odyssey

Posted by intellisg on June 23, 2007

hal.jpg“I have no hesitation in thinking that a machine can be just as intelligent and just as real as a person, in principle.”

– Professor Rodney Brooks, Director, MIT (AI)

Since the advent of the computer age, automated systems have featured increasingly in every facet of work, life and play. Millions of commercial airliners take off and land safely every year managed wholly by fail proof navigation computers. Traffic lights change colors faultlessly managed by computers to ensure optimum traffic flow. Products and services are manufactured, warehoused, shipped and tracked by computers with hardly a glitch. Computers are also friendly always adopting that smooth and confident voice even when we take the wrong turn while navigating with our GPS. They don’t bitch, complain or gripe – they just hum along – excepting for what we are, warts and all.

hal2.jpgIt’s enough for me to ask the question: Do we really need human politicians to run Singapore these days? Why don’t we just replace them with high intelligent computers like HAL? You know who HAL is – don’t you? We even have one unit here, in the Intelligent Singaporean and he manages all our communications and even takes care of security along with a thousand other task – HAL’s, the quintessential fail proof, butler, chess savant, wizard extraordinaire all rolled up into a clean, efficient and uncomplaining peak performer – summarized in his own words in the 60’s sci-fi flick by Kubrick in 2001, Space Odyssey “By every practical definition, we are incapable of error!” Just to prove my point, allow me to demonstrate, why I think, it would be a good idea for PAP to consider recruiting HAL as their next parliamentarian:

Still think humans are up to the job? What do you say?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Science, Sociology | 2 Comments »

When History just isn’t your History – The “Rosetta” Project.

Posted by intellisg on June 22, 2007

rosetta.jpgHAVE you ever wondered: why politicians, corporate and even religious leaders rewrite history? Tell me now. Did the Singapore government ever pursue a eugenics program? Was the Shin Corp fiasco entirely the fault of the irrational Thai junta? Were the Jews responsible for the death of Jesus?

See what I mean: the path that leads down to history invariably ends up in a hall of mirrors. Do we really value the truth enough to ensure history remains accurate and a reflection of what really happened? After all the Christians like to say, only “the truth has the power to set you free!” Really? Well on first impressions anyone might be forgiven for assuming that we don’t really care much about the truth and bother even less for those who may choose to regularly gut out reality and substitute it for their own version of the truth. I am serious!

Just look at literature, if you don’t believe me. Did you know, Moby Dick was originally a novel about the serial killing walrus with had a penchant for human meat. Had Melville not switched the titular beast for an albino whale, the yarn might have languished in obscurity today, forgotten by all but a few ardent environmental fundamentalist. Yes re-writing history does serve a purpose: it offers a convenient way of rehashing and re-packaging reality to remain relevant with prevailing times. That’s to say, it’s often re-constituted like potato crisp to make it more palatable for mass consumption. After all didn’t you know the truth kills? What if politicians and corporate honcho’s bare their souls and tell us they have just as much control over the economy as a butterfly flapping its wings in Tokyo? Where would we be? How would this revelation sit alongside our notions of power and politics? Truth remains, if we really care to take a long look around these days, everyone is into the business of rehashing history – novelist are the worst, often passing off the old as new. Musicians are just contrite, continually lending their own swagger to old scripts and historians are shambolic. Since they keep telling us, “actually this wasn’t what really happened!” while furiously cutting and pasting huge chunks of events which they regularly pass off as humanity’s on going disquisitions Though these erudite lot continue to insist they are merely – “rediscovering” instead of “rewriting history.” How justifiable is this form of tweaking? Does it really add any value to our understanding of the truth? Or is it just plain self-serving white washing? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Sociology | 28 Comments »

The Cost of Living in a Scaredy Cat Society – Quality vs Quantity

Posted by intellisg on June 9, 2007

I AM not a big fan of fear, for one it stops me dead on my tracks, my heart rate goes up, my stomach curls up into a tennis ball and my tongue turns all hairy crabby. We all know that stomach churning feeling only too well. Don’t we?

That’s the reason why so many of us plan and design our lives to keep fear in check. We pay our taxes on time to avoid fines. We regularly sign up for health checks, just in case our helix goes bonkers. We circle the parking lot at least 3 times to seek out those pesky coupon aunties. But it doesn’t really go away does it? FEAR.

Even in the seemingly safety of our hermetically sealed imaginary secret garden, FEAR, the serpent lurks reminding us all, how open and vulnerable we are: we should worry about our health the bird flu pandemic it’s just around the corner. We should mull no end about our jobs, its being hacked away incessantly by out sourcers. The economy is growing, but most of the new jobs generated are low paying and/or part-time offering few, if any, benefits. Even blogging these days is under siege! I am of course referring to the recent threat that Tomorrow.sg is currently facing from a time share company that has suddenly decided to take an interest in what’s regularly posted in blogosphere.

What’s the cost of living in FEAR? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Sociology | 7 Comments »

When the Silence is Deafening: Post-UNSW & EDB Lessons.

Posted by intellisg on May 31, 2007

silence.jpgDO you hear anything? It’s so quiet these days you could even hear the termites feasting on your bed post. Or even hear a pin drop two blocks away. You’re probably thinking, there he goes again being all obscure and opaque again – he can’t possibly be serious this time can he? Except perhaps to tell us all he’s being bitten by a rabid werewolf and slowly morphing into a canine with ultra sensitive hearing. Can he?

Well the reason why I mentioned it’s so silent these days; since UNSW decided to pack up and scoot off like a traveling circus hardly a whimper has emerged from their partners EDB. Neither has the party political machine responded to the fiasco or for that matter anyone else in the real world – that simply bothers me.

Nothing substantive at least, except perhaps Miss Chua’s write up recently in the ST which did quite a decent job of stirring up the tea cup but regrettably it fell short of starting the perfect storm. (good try old girl, pat on a head and well deserved doggie nimble –fetch!)

Let me just tell you all what happened yesterday morning while I was sitting on the great white throne in the toilet as I usually do reading our beloved rag. I came across a “clarification” by Mr Ko Kheng Hwa managing director of EDB in the Forum section May, 30, 2007, entitled, “EDB clarifies involvement with UNSW Asia.” My first reaction can only be described as the sound of music which finally punctuated the silence. No I am not referring to the remnants of the battle of my gut with a dodgy prata. Rather it was my reaction to Mr Ko’s timely clarification. Unfortunately half way through the yarn my initial sense of relief was rapidly replaced by disenchantment.

My main gripe is: Mr Ko’s “clarification” raises more questions than it answers. Yeap folks, I am all obscure again and the silence is deepening even as I tap on my key board; what’s really happening here? Why is it so difficult for these bureaucrats to just answer a simple question? All I really want to know as a regular 6% GST tax payer is; what really went wrong? Aren’t these legitimate questions that deserve an answer? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Economics, Politics, Sociology | 22 Comments »

First A*Star, then Shin Corp and now EDB – IMHO What Really Went Wrong?

Posted by intellisg on May 28, 2007

whatwentwrong.jpgNOW I warn you all. I may be very obscure this time! That’s because I am terribly confused by the spate of failures that has recently dogged agencies like EDB and A*Star and their parent ministry MTI (I am sure I don’t need to elaborate on the sordid details? They’re everywhere these days). Along with residues of the Shin Corp debacle.

Are these failures just isolated cases? Or do they suggest there’s an underlying reason why these fiascos are regularly churned out these days? I am not suggesting that something like the curse of the Mummies has befallen our red pimple of a country. Or that it’s time for whole cabinet to take a giant flower bath to cast aside evil – but what’s happening here?

Till now most pundits in the MSM and blogosphere have done quite a good job of examining; who-was-responsible? – who- pulled- the- plug? Others contend each of these failures are no more than isolated incidences, each with its own extenuating circumstances?

Then there are those who have wax lyrical these recent spate of failures are simply the necessary cost of pursuing a pro-active policy of expansionism. The damage control rhetoric would probably read, “no risk, no gain la! Didn’t you mama tell you that dummy!” Besides we are told the financial losses suffered by Shin Corp, the pull out of John Hopkins and UNSW’s, “no show,” hardly amounts to a hill of beans to de-rail Singapore Inc from carving out a competitive advantage. It’s “business as usual.” How could we disagree? After all we all know the business environment is a feral hit and miss domain where all types of risk abound and if we play it safe, it profits us none – right? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Sociology | 24 Comments »

Singapore’s Preoccupation with Statistical Nonsense!

Posted by intellisg on May 27, 2007

statistics.jpgTHE FRENCH have a joke that they direct at statisticians whenever they are caught in the Parisian traffic jam. It goes something like this: “It may work fine in practice, but I don’t think it works very well in theory. So why don’t we make our lives simple and swap the theory with the practice? Besides, no one would ever know.” I am sure it’s supposed to be funny, if something wasn’t lost in the translation, only I am not laughing. Statistics after all litters the world and its serious business.

Lately (and I could be obscure again), I have noticed an increasing use of statistics creeping into the main stream media. This doesn’t just include newspapers but also TV and the radio especially. It’s used to explain, justify, compare, substantiate and drive home everything from selling cat food to suggesting why you should forgo plastic bags and instead used a carrier when you next go shopping. Recently salaries for Ministers were revised and what did the government use to justify the pay rise? Correct, a comparative statistical survey which highlighted the pay disparity between ministers and corporate honcho’s in Singapore. What about the survey that list Singapore as the most competitive country in the world just because we shuffle faster than anyone else. Again statistics was used, and. Most recently Mr Warren Fernandez’s a reporter from Straits Times wrote an article on 19 May 2007 entitled “All societies have elites, but some become elitist.” Where he explored the issue of what students considered to be the most important factor for succeeding in Singapore and to establish his plank again he conducted a poll using a type of statistical analysis. He wrote:

“Only 2 to 3 per cent of those polled from all backgrounds cited family wealth as a major factor in someone making it to the top..”

Now I just want to tell you all that I have nothing per se against reporters, ministers, corporate leaders, businessmen, crow shooters, circus acrobats or even prostitutes using math & stats to make sense of the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Sociology | 16 Comments »