How Does
Political Social
Media Swarming
Affect An Election?

Notice: The use of Social Media in early 2011 in bringing down the dictators of Muslim North Africa may seem
to valid or minimize the dangers of Social Media Swarming.
Obviously, in a dictator's repression of freedom of speech,
the use of Social Media has been valuable in uniting the
people in temporary action to overthrow the existing order.
But can Social Media be the prime or even necessary tool in putting in place a new functioning democracy? This seems unlikely.
Something must happen on a much deeper level in the
hearts and minds of the people, away from a passive
philosophical fatalism that led to multiple dictatorships in the first place.
The role of Social Media swarming in an established democracy however, is more of a devolution into tribalism, rather than a step up to higher individual responsibility.

We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning. Democracy At Twilight would like to say something about the phenomenon of Social Media Political Swarming, something we believe happened in Calgary Alberta
on Monday October 18th, 2010..
We Quote here Wikipedia on Social Media Political Swarming

Either opportunistically or pre-planned, the use of swarming is becoming a factor in political demonstrations and may become significant in unconventional warfare in urban areas. Among the best known examples is the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999 protest activity in Seattle, where the protesters were effective in evading police control, and the Estrada Revolution of 2001 that overthrew Philippine President Joseph Estrada. Both used text messaging, cell-phones, and websites for near-real-time coordination, previously associated only with advanced military forces. As described by Howard Rheingold, "Smart mobs emerge when communication and computing technologies amplify human talents for cooperation.
This is why when the G-20 was held in Toronto this last year, such a large space of the downtown was fenced off, despite the cost in a billion for doing so. Such a text message base swarm was expected.
Swarming requires autonomous or semiautonomous operating agents, with strong synchronization and communications among them. Senior commanders release resources to the swarm, but do not control them once released. If the agents are semiautonomous, there will be an on-scene commander giving general direction to the swarming agents. In the insect world for example, the bees sense each other's buzzing and instinctually move in concert in real time. Text messaging on mobile devices and instantaneous file sharing off the Internet via PDAs allows groups of people to receive their instructions, move in unison, nearly instantaneously.
Democracy At Twilight urges all concerned citizens to request a Provincial Public Inquiry from Ed Stelmach to investigate opinion polls and the use of social media swarming in elections.

There is much more to come oN this Page
so Stay Tuned.

The Shallows
What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains
by Nicholas Carr
WW Norton & Company
New York - London
2010 - @ $35 Cnd.
(Writer and Former Editor of Harvard Business Review)
This book has a profound message on what the use
of the Internet can do to the physical memory structure of
our minds. Hear Nicholas Carr explain below
Full Audio Interview of Nicholas Carr on CBC's Spark Plus
June 23rd, 2010 with Nora Young (25 mins)

Nicholas Carr Article on Study
The Internet Shatters Focus

We at Democracy At Twilight believe deep attentiveness
and long lasting memory storage is required to read books effectively.
Neuro-Plasticity a characteristic of brain development that tells us even the adult brain is constantly adapting to our habits of taking in information. The Brain adapts efficiently to the mode of learning it is subjected to.
Neurons and synapses in the brain will adapt to new patterns of exposure and dissolve old pathways of learning such as were used to those who were once voracious readers of books. Those who never developed a taste for reading books have never had these
particular pathways of reflective and deep reading.
Many who were once such voracious readers have noticed
the difficulty that they now have, after years of exposure to
beneficial yet distracting Internet use.

They now have a struggle reading any lengthily article in print or online beyond a page or two. The ability to move information from our short-term working memory to our long term memory is dependent upon our ability to concentrate and reflect on what we have learned. Research indicates the transfer of the memories may take several days to accomplish.

Thus we become much more hyper-suggestible to the immediate exposure to episodic information while losing the rich connections of richly contextual cognition ( i.e.. Isolated knowledge as opposed to deeper qualities of 'wise' knowledge.)
The Shallows is a book that Democracy At Twilight would like to propose for group study.

On a different approach, we also refer to an excerpt from
The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies can make us better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done
by Peter Miller , The Penguin Group , New York, 2010. ($32,50 Cnd)

No one argues the fact that there is much to be gained at observing structure and activity in the animal and insect world to see how they adapt to and organize their environment. The problem comes when
the intelligence is attributed to a random open source which frees individuals to use such wisdom in a random open approach to ethical behavior. ( I.e.. Utilitarianism: If it works, use it. )

So in using material from this book we would make a different between animal or insect instincts, and the human use of such knowledge, under which we are accountable to a much higher level of how we use knowledge and the imagination we add to it which no other beings can do.

We here quote from Chapter Three: Termites - One Thing Leads To Another. ( Pp. 144 -148 ) where Michael Kearns, a computer scientist at University of Pennsylvania had the students at Levine Hall participate in a variety of computer networked games on Choosing Optimal Coloration.One experiment involved student seeking consensus rather than than uniqueness. We quote Miller here:

" To make the experiments more interesting, Kearns told a small number of students taking part that they'd be paid a bonus if the group as a whole would select red, while the majority of the students were told to select blue. He didn't pick red players at random, though. He selected those with the most neighbors in the network, those occupying hub positions. Because of their roles as connectors, he figured, they'd have a greater opportunity to be influential. Could such a well connected minority impose its will on a less motivated minority?"

" He didn't tell the students at the time, but this version of the experiment was directly inspired by the Democratic presidential primary season of 2008, which had dragged on for months without producing a consensus candidate. 'It went on for so long that, at least for the first time I've ever seen, Democrats were actually saying, you know, this isn't good,' Kearns says. 'McCain is getting his campaign up and running and here we are, fighting with each other. We're looking bad.' Even so, nobody wanted to tell the main contenders they shouldn't run. So the whole thing kept grinding on."

"What would happen, Kearns wondered, if one or another of the candidates was able to gain the support of key connectors in the Party? If a small, but influential group of individuals put their minds to it, could they win the nomination for their candidate? The answer was an unequivocal yes. In 20 of 24 games, the minority was able to impose its preference on the majority - even when they were outnumbered six to one. Being highly connected in the consensus game turned out to be a powerful advantage."

Group behavior in humans in fads, fashions and financial market herding have their reflections in the flocking of birds and the schooling of fish. The instinct to belong is a most powerful force in the natural and human world. But the decision of the group is not always reliable. Strange things can and do happen when individuals let peer pressure overwhelm their common sense.
People can completely ignore their own evaluation in deference to the social context. Or to quote Peter Miller, " This was the downside, of course, of a system in which individuals took their cues mainly from one another." - p. 207 When the group strays off course, they can do so in a dramatic way.

The instinct to conform to the group is powerful. Miller quotes Simon Levin, a biologist at Princeton saying; " "A group of teenage girls or boys might decide they're all going to get tattoos, or wear rings, or certain clothes" (ed. i.e.. purple ) he comments. "This is not an isolated incident. They do so because there are exclusive groups that form based on whether you are in or out. So there's a lot of peer pressure. Part of it's imitation and part of it's the pressure that comes from rewards that you get, or the punishments that you get if you don't follow these behaviors." - p 211.
The difference is that people, as opposed to herds, or flocks, or schools of fish, have the faculty of reason, which they can allow to overrule peer pressure which is seen to be illogical.

The question Democracy At Twilight asks, is whether that little luminous screen of constantly interrupting text fragments, cues from the outside,has not crowded out the space for independent thought.

The Net Delusion

The Dark Side Of Internet Freedom
By Evgeny Morozov
Public Affairs, New York, 2011
We ask readers of Democracy At Twilight
to serious consider reading the book pictured below by Stanford Scholar Evgeny Morozov.

Cover Description
declared journalist Andrew Sullivan after protests erupted in Iran in June 2009. Yet for all the talk about the democratizing power of the Internet, regimes in Iran and China are as stable and repressive as ever. In fact, authoritarian governments are effectively using the Internet to suppress free speech, hone their surveillance techniques, disseminate cutting-edge propaganda, and pacify their populations with digital entertainment. Could the recent Western obsession with promoting democracy by digital means backfire?
In this spirited book, journalist and social commentator Evgeny Morozov shows that by falling for the supposedly democratizing nature of the Internet, Western do-gooders may have missed how it also entrenches dictators, threatens dissidents, and makes it harder - not easier - to promote democracy. Buzzwords like "twenty-first-century statecraft" sound good in PowerPoint presentations, but the reality is that "digital diplomacy" requires just as much oversight and consideration as any other kind of diplomacy.
"Evgeny Morozov is wonderfully knowledgeable about the Internet - he seems to have studied every use of it, or every political use, in every country in the world (and to have read all the posts). And he is wonderfully sophisticated and tough-minded about politics. This is a rare combination, and it makes for a powerful argument against the latest versions of technological romanticism. His book should be required reading for every political activist who hopes to change the world on the Internet." - Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

In relation to recent social media swarming elections, I quote from page 315, the book's concluding chapter with;
" The fact that do-gooders usually mean well does not mitigate the disastrous consequences that follow from their inability ( or just sheer lack of ambition ) to engage with broader social and political dimensions of technology.
As the German psychologist Dietrich Dorner observed in The Logic Of Failure, his masterful account of how decision-makers' ingrained psychological biases could aggravate existing problems and blind them to the far more detrimental consequences of proposed solutions, "it's far from clear whether 'good intentions plus stupidity' or 'evil intentions plus intelligence' have wrought more harm in the world." In reality, the fact that we mean well should only give us extra reasons for scrupulous self-retrospection, for, according to Dorner, "incompetent people with good intentions rarely suffer the qualms of conscience that sometimes inhibit the doings of competent people with bad intentions."
Page 312-14 also includes a few sentences which speak to such utopian documents as the Imagine Calgary: One Hundred Year Plan that was adopted by the City of Calgary in 2006.
" Thus, most digital visionaries see the Web as a Swiss army knife ready for any job at hand. They rarely alert us to the information black holes created by the Internet, from the sprawling surveillance apparatus facilitated by the public nature of social networking to the persistence of myth making and propaganda, which is much easier to produce and distribute in a world where every fringe movement blogs, tweets, and Facebooks.........The technologists... "largely extrapolate from today or tomorrow while showing painfully limited interest in the past," as Howard Segal, another historian of technology, once mused. This, perhaps, explains the inevitable barrage of utopian claims every time a new invention comes along. After all, it's not historians of technology but futurists - those who prefer to fantasize about the bright but unknowable future rather than confront the dark but knowable past - that make the most outrageous claims about the fundamental, world-transforming significance of any new technology, especially it it is already on its way to making the cover of Time magazine."
Lisa Rosner argues that "technological fixes, because they attack symptoms but don't root out causes, have unforeseen and deleterious side effects that may be worse than the social problem they were intended to solve." When digital activism is presented as the new platform for campaigning and organizing, one begins to wonder whether it has side effects - further disengagement between traditional oppositional forces who practice real politics, no matter how risky and boring, and the younger generation, passionate about campaigning on Facebook and Twitter - would outweigh the benefits of cheaper and leaner communications. If the hidden costs of digital activism include the loss of coherence, morality, or even sustainability of the opposition movement, it may not be a solution worth pursuing. - p. 304.

Use Of Google Search Alternating
What We Choose To Retain In Memory - News pdf


Note On Description of Nenshi Campaign Use of Social Media

See Jeremy Zhao's October 18th, 2010 Article on Calgary Politics dot com
All Eyes On Naheed Nenshi

Some echo's on this article written the day of the Calgary election: "

Under Social Media Giant

Nenshi’s 'rabid followers' squeezed out McIver commenters on Calgary Herald site..

Nenshi had largest Facebook Following: 10,000

Twitter land, the #yycvote hashtag is overwhelming inhabited by Nenshi campaigners with purple symbols. They work as a united group to suppress any kind of anti-Nenshi opposition.

Under Attacks and Crushing Them headline
Zhao wrote:
'The power of the Nenshi mob, especially online, is frightening.'

Read Paragraphs in their full on above link.

A Week Without Facebook
Harrisburg College tries It Out
Most Students at Penn. School Supportive
While Blogosphere Goes Ballistic

Click Above for Whole Article MSNBC

Bold experiment at Harrisburg University of
Science and Technology - Students cut off of access
to Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other
social networks for one week.
"Communications Director Sherrie Madia asks " Do we really want to be
enslaved to Facebook or Twitter? Once you create
anything in social media, you have to feed the beast.
When you stop adding content, you disappear.
Student Ashley Harris, 22, said the blackout
has freed her to concentrate on her classwork instead
of toggling on her laptop between social networks,
and the lesson at hand."
Provost Eric Darr is not a punishment or a precursor to a ban, but a way for people to think critically
about the prevalence of social media. Still Darr can't
believe the controversy generated in Twitterverse, blogosphere, and academia, with some accusing
the school of inflicting "a terrible thing and an
infringement upon people's rights."

Social Media Blackout Wins Converts
Link Above to Full Story in

"Even though people initially were angry ... even the most cranky student had to admit some good came out of it," Provost Eric Darr told The Associated Press.

Results released Friday showed that 25 percent of respondents reported better classroom concentration that week, while 23 percent found lectures more interesting and 6 percent reported eating better and exercising more.


Social networking leads to isolation,
not more connections,

say academics

Thursday, January 27, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Natural News

Above article refers tp: Prof. Sherry Turkle of MIT in her book Alone Together, and others say that the online social world is destroying real communication, dumbing down society, and leading to a society of people that have no idea how to actually function in the real world.

Social Networking, Virtual Friends
and the Erosion of the
Social Fabric of Modern Society

Sunday, May 24, 2009
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of

"What we are collectively witnessing with all this is the drowning of a generation of people in a world of delusion, devoid of real meaning, abundant only in its ability to trigger the brain into believing some real connection is taking place. Online social networking is the social equivalent of playing slot machines in Vegas -- it preys upon the behavioral "addictions" of people who come to depend on a repetitive, fabricated stimulus that ultimately delivers nothing of value in the real world." - Mike Adams

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More to Come.... at Democracy At Twilight.