Just the facts, M'am...umm, just OUR facts, I mean !
June 6, 2004 10:19 AM   Subscribe

A bushy-tailed morning in the quest for truth : MemeTank and dKosopedia This morning, I wondered - where's the update to (the deceased) Steve Kangas' mighty liberal FAQ ? "Update?", thought I, "Well, this attempt ran out of steam" Then..."Ah, a Wiki !" Then, "well, isn't truth the point ?...shouldn't it be Bipartisan, or multipartisan ?" Daily Kos was just sniffing (May 28th) along that trail, it seemed....partway : "We hope the dKosopedia will become the progressive-political version of the Wikipedia, a political FAQ so to speak" Would the "Dkosopedia" benefit from a less partisan stance ?

But, the MemeTank rocks -with it's bestiary of Liberal/Progressive, Right Wing, and "other" memes and the (MemeTank's) "Meme Development Project....This section is for people who want to invent new memes and try to encourage professional journalists to start using them."
posted by troutfishing (9 comments total)
Yeah, I dunno. DKos is pretty out there, at least in terms of partisan ship. He seems to care more about democrats "winning" then having good leaders. Oh well.
posted by delmoi at 10:24 AM on June 6, 2004

I've had Wikis, and memes on my mind for a long while now - (hence this - err - partisan and scurrilous meme-graphic designed to counter another equally scurrilous meme from the right) and so I was startled to see that Kos was thinking almost exactly the same thing but I wondered about the vast nature of the project - Steve Kangas' heroic work, large as it was, still was limited while Kos' project seemed Wikipedia-ish in scale rather than about being the sort of explicit, and cutting (for it's reference to quality research), rebuttal of right-wing talking points, myths,and distortions which made Kangas' effort so notable. (and, for that matter, why not an explicit tribute to Kangas ?)

I wondered, about the wisdom of a declared, explicitly partisan political FAQ - isn't the very point of a Wiki that The truth will out ? And - if those advancing a right-wing position are in possession of more convincing facts and research, well then - shouldn't the truth then out ?

Now, there are political points underlying this : the US right 's position is advanced through numerous, well funded think-tanks which are, in many cases, concerned not with the "truth" per se as with the appearance of truth : with, for example, the promotion of questionable ( non peer-reviewed ) studies posing as "research" or studies with a carefully concealed slant that are -seemingly- designed to provide the substantiation for political mythology

So I wonder - will the right think-tank establishment merely bury Kos' project with densely layered but - ultimately - disingenuous "information" and a blizzard of "Bell Curves" ?

And, would the left also shout down those points from the right which were legitimately substantiated, honestly researched ?

Does the open declaration of the partisan nature of Kos' dKosopedia serve to merely widen and exacerbate the US political divide ?

Are Wikis immune to this sort of politicking, especially Wikis that are explicitly politicized ?

But the MemeTank project.....

I LIKE it.
posted by troutfishing at 10:57 AM on June 6, 2004

Media Matters for America: "a Web-based, not-for-profit progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Conservative misinformation is defined as news or commentary presented in the media that is not accurate, reliable, or credible and that forwards the conservative agenda."

(disclaimer: I work there)
posted by owillis at 11:06 AM on June 6, 2004

owillis - That's a superb resource and, as my wife and close friends can attest, I rarely offer praise unless I mean it.

Here's one suggestion though : "Media Matters" is doing a great job of collating the day to day and week to week lies and outrageous spinsanities of the mass media, but why not also rise above the fray a bit ?

Some of the most telling (or damning) research on the question of media bias gets barely any press at all and, in fact, there's a substantial body of research, built up over the past few years, which largely disproves the entire "Liberal media bias" claim coming from the US right and which should be publicized.

Soon - yesterday, in fact.

Robert Parry's peek behind the almost mythic Freedom Forum 1996 report (writing on The Consortium) , on the voting patterns of reporters in the 1992 election, reveals that the reporter pool that "study" drew on was so far from representative that the "study" amounted mere propaganda. Moreover, PIPA's recent studies have gone farther and demonstrated the impact of pervasive media disinformation - in creating and failing to correct widespread voter misperceptions about Iraq, 9-11, WMD's, and other issues.

Editor and Publisher, also, has some very telling research - some going back as far as the 1930's - demonstrating clear election year print media bias - to the right.

There's a lot of good material out there which deserves to be collated and packaged for mainstream consumption.

That project would - clearly - fall under your organization's mission statement.
posted by troutfishing at 12:07 PM on June 6, 2004

I've been kicking around an idea like this for ages now! clearly, markos is a time traveller.
posted by mcsweetie at 12:12 PM on June 6, 2004

Yeah, but who's reading it? I love the idea of making new progressive memes, but who are they gonna infect? Just those of us who aren't already defended against them. Actually, out there on the street - beyond the mefite universe - I hardly know anyone who defends the politics of the right, at least, not anyone who I would find myself talking politics with. Its the media, within which I include the blogosphere, that tells me how the world is and it appears from what I read and watch that America is not just deeply divided but it is segregated to an extent that it doesn't need an Israeli type fence or Berlin wall for each side to protect its own sub-culture or meme collection. Somehow, I think we've got to find a way to tear down those walls, or maybe not tear them down so much as encourage them to vanish so that nobody actually notices them disappearing. But don't ask me how.
posted by donfactor at 2:12 PM on June 6, 2004

I challenge anyone to write somthing that is unbiased. A few historians throughout history have come close but they are one in millions. Most of the history from Greek and Roman times is trash, barely studied by modern scholars because it is full of the politics of the age which mean nothing to us now. Writing great history or anlysis is somthing very few people are capable of. Most of what we see and read is trash that will end up in the garabage bin of history. Think about how many great history books you have read from the 19th Century or earlier that have survived the ages. Some examples might be the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Arrian (history of Alexander of Macedonia). Thucydides (Peloponnesian War).
posted by stbalbach at 3:45 PM on June 6, 2004

So when is Fox Nows and O'Reilly going to admit they're conservative? Never.

Wellll ... not so much conservative as corporatist and wing nutty. Being "conservative" is often a good thing (fiscal?) but being a sycophant of the current GOP is suicidal.
posted by nofundy at 5:28 AM on June 7, 2004

stbalbach - the ideal of "objectivity" disappeared along with the ancient Earth-centric notion of the universe. Objectivity - in the strong sense - is impossible and hence meaningless. All who live embody perspectives located in time and place.

But there is a striking difference between the writings of those who still place high value on that unattainable ideal and those who intentionally spread lies - to advance political goals.

In the long run, nearly everything winds up in the history's dustbin - for recycling, and history and "truth" tend to have an expiration dates - as with produce.

But what of it ? In the long run, we are all dead.


donfactor - the best, most powerful memes are rooted in truth. Some new, fact driven memes/truths are spreading now, quite naturally, through the American body politic - and even among conservatives ( thoughtful ones ) .

Such as : Reagan and George W. Bush ran up huge federal defcits.

So Republicans are fiscal spendthrifts ?

GOP loves deficits ?

The historical record is clear, and the message is spreading. So, memes associated with these facts are spreading and - given a little push here and there - could snowball.
posted by troutfishing at 8:22 AM on June 7, 2004

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