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Byeonghoon Han

Student , Korea Science Academy

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Are citizens "ALWAYS" good?

Just at TEDGlobal 2011, Rebecca MacKlinton mentions citizen-oriented evolution of internet. Also, she mentions several news with censorship by government.

I generally agree that the future of the internet should be citizen-oriented, but I have some questions about the role of government.

That include "Why government censors internet(and other media)?"

There IS a political reason for censorship, but there is a reason for protecting citizens from the public threat, or immorality.

If we assume that citizens are producing contents in the internet, is citizen's right to access contents in the internet ALWAYS guaranteed despite they produce public threat? What is the acceptable area for public good(or threat)?

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      Jul 16 2011: If it is out of the consent of the majority of its citizens, I think it is legitimate.
      but if it is out of only the will and the moral compass of the goverment, it seems too arbitrary.
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          Jul 16 2011: I totally agree with you on that ,those weird law. I have seen the video of a man beaten up on his bottom by the whip. It is extremely horrible.
          I don't get it. because I don't know so much about its history.
          I am waiting for others' comments.
        • Jul 18 2011: That's how Singapore earned her reputation to be one of the cleanest cities in the world. It is a small island country & population, so it's easier for them to control & regulate policies. Cleanliness is their top priority partly to lure tourists as they depend on tourism due to no much natural resources. So that explained the ban on chewing gums. Chewing gums can be a nuisance if the citizens are not civic-minded. They stick them on walls etc.
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        • Jul 21 2011: birdia i wonder if it could be because alcohol and tobacco general affects only one's own health, whereas gum tends to end up dirtying the streets which belong to everyone? what do you think?
      • Jul 17 2011: I think unless pornography and violence is done outside of law and it does not show some real suffering of people that affects their credibility then it should not be banned, otherwise we would have to start banning movies like Hannibal and Kill Bill as well. However I find it unfortunate that some people need to watch violence thou.

        @Tian Consent of majority is not necessary a good reason for something to be legitimate or illegitimate. We don't want to ask people for consent about freedom of expression or gay rights? =) I think (Supreme) Court is typically in charge of deciding what should be legitimate or not.

        @Birdia, sometimes I find Japan in similar position, strict on some issues and not on others. For example "Recent controversies have frowned upon both pubic hair and even genitalia itself being displayed in works of art and in educational settings." while on other hand Japan is known by many sex services (including in restaurants?). I don't understand it.
      • Jul 17 2011: Hello Birdia, my original quote was from Wikipedia's page and the related link is here:
        http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/20/arts/20arts-SUPREMECOURT_BRF.html

        I have briefly checked some of his work thou I am not much into art and I don't get much out of it. However I do like photographs from nature =)

        Cheers.
    • Jul 17 2011: Hello Birdia,

      Here is a link to the Wikipedia's article from which I quoted in my post:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_in_Japan (see the section: Laws and movements)

      I have seen several of his pictures from a link on his wiki page (70 photos...):
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobuyoshi_Araki

      I agree that art helps to test public's tolerance (or intolerance) and create some new views on various topics. Some of the art presented at TED was truly amazing (so actually I like some artists a lot) thou sometimes like with Araki's photos of women I am not sure what exactly the author is trying to say and if I correctly understand his message =)

      What I find very unfortunate is that in US many people seem to be very strict with any kind of nudity while approving violence and weapons. I think our world would be a better place if it was the other way around? =)

      UPDATE: One of my most favorite art speeches that I was so touched is from JR. Please see it if you can:
      http://www.ted.com/talks/jr_s_ted_prize_wish_use_art_to_turn_the_world_inside_out.html
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        • Jul 19 2011: Hi Birdia,

          " if a particular piece carries a social message, great; if it doesn't, I've no problem with it even if it means I simply like it for no particular reason."

          Yes I agree with you.

          "It doesn't even need to bear the responsibility to please anyone, opinions are always separated from the piece itself; I think it is in that empty space between the piece and the viewer, there lies the true power of art.`

          I am a bit ignorant in this area so thank you for explaining how to approach an art. I need to catch up =) Are there cases when artist does want to portrait a specific view or feeling and expects or hopes others would do so?

          Thanks for the links. I have seen the nature photos before but first time the polar ice ones. I always wished to actually travel to Alaska (maybe using their ferry) and see polar ice with my own eye and new camera =)

          I am curious as to what is your opinion about the beauty and art of Pandora shown in Avatar movie?

          Cheers
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        • Jul 20 2011: Hello Birdia,

          "opinions are always separated from the piece itself; I think it is in that empty space between the piece and the viewer, there lies the true power of art"

          Let me try to formulate a better question around this =) You are noting that opinions are always separated from the piece itself which I didn't realize. However I wonder if in some cases the artist actually hopes and intends its audience to have a particular feelings or impression of his/her art? What if the artist is trying to communicate a particular message to the viewer and hopes that the message will get through? Similar to some movies that has underlying message about morality, life etc?

          There lies my confusion about when I can interpret an art in any way I feel and when I suppose to "get" a message from it? =)

          "Although I was quite amazed by the visual effects, I can hardly consider the movie apiece of 'art', so to speak"

          Perhaps not the whole movie but it is amazing (at least for me) how over 500 artists spent over 2 years creating the world of Pandora. Anything from alien animals, flowers, trees to future technology, sounds in the forest and sounds of animals (they were well done), jewelry, ornaments, clothing for the local people as well. This was all done to create alian environment. I have watched a lots of behind the scene footage lol
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        • Jul 20 2011: "I think our ocean is so much more beautiful than some high-tech special effects in a movie."

          You probably don't know but James Cameron is a big fan of oceans and he spent hundreds of hours in submarines stuying and filiming it (including Titanic). His inspiration for fluroscense in Pandora is coming from his direct experience with deep ocean and who knows if there is a planet that has such forest =)

          I also like that James usually makes females characters one of the leading roles in his movies (Titanic, Aliens 1/2, Terminator 2, Avatar). It helps to break stereotypes.

          "on the other hand, I think George Lucas is a genius and I think Star Wars is truly awesome as a blockbuster"

          I love the original 3 movies and I think they are classics but I don't enjoy as much the newer ones as they seem to lack humour and have much darker tone? However it is great to see various planets and aliens =)

          Thanks for sharing the link. It has been on my list of talks to watch. There is also a movie from BBC that shows bioluminescence. It is called Blue Planet: Seas of Life:
          http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Planet-Seas-Life-Special/dp/B001957A4E/
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        • Jul 20 2011: Hi Birdia

          ""At this point, I'm going to be frank. My discussion with Zdenek is a classic example of what the piece aimed to talk about. I could have thrown out the link as a reference much earlier to cut the bullcrap, but I ran along with it and wanted to see how it would go, as always, hoping that Groys might have been wrong. Nevertheless, I feel, developing some kind of basic understanding is important in this case.""

          but then the rest of your thoughts are not clear. As with a written conversation, your thoughts are running much deeper than what the words are saying.

          Zdenek asks ""Are there cases when artist does want to portrait a specific view or feeling and expects or hopes others would do so?""

          Absolutely, all art is an expression of the artists point of view. They do want you to "get it". The difficulty is "getting it". Jackson Pollock is asking "What do you (the interpreter) see?" in my 5 minute opinion. Cameron is showing you his idea of a true connection of all living things and how destructive a force progress is on life. Blockbuster? Yes, Powerful message? Absolutely

          I can appreciate the energy and time that goes into an art piece, but if it does not move me in some emotional way or another, if it does not provoke a thought, I probably just don't "get it" and so it is speaking to a different group of people.

          @Birdia ""In my mind, I tend to separate high art and commercial art/design in movies (for me, they are highly profitable mass entertainment, similar to some TV programs, in a way, they are telling you what to think)""

          Everything that enters your mind through the senses is telling you what to think. We in America, are totally brainwashed by advertisement. It is everywhere and is unavoidable so whether you believe it or not, the repetition of information becomes your own idea.

          To Groys, I think he explains very well how Art from another culture alters my opinions of my own culture, which he is calling "deculturalization".
        • Jul 21 2011: Hello Birdia,

          Let me share a few more thoughts about Avatar =) I really appreaciate your insights as someone who is so close to art.

          "In my mind, I tend to separate high art and commercial art/design in movies (for me, they are highly profitable mass entertainment, similar to some TV programs, in a way, they are telling you what to think), but that doesn't mean Cameron's movies shouldn't be appreciated as what they are: blockbusters?"

          Yes I agre hight art and commercial art are each in a different category. However why should it matter how many people saw the movie (and whether it was profitable?) We probably do not judge negatively Picasso or Shakespeare just because they were seen or read by millions of people? Actually being able to make any kind of art accessible to masses is a good thing?

          Yes you are right that movies (Shakespeare plays) tell its audience what to think more than high art (I guess there is less "space" between the viewer and the art?). Avatar became a blockbuster but it is not the property of the movie. It is the result? Actually Cameron took a huge risk to create such an unusual movie about alien life (I don't think that was done to such degree before).

          "I'll try to take your recommendation and look into his movies"

          The other Cameron's movies are rather less artistic (thou imaginative) and are bit dated so I am not sure if you will enjoy them. Abyss is nice thou.

          (I would like to ask you your opinion on Baraka but that would further expand this discussion lol)

          "Breaking stereotypes by making more? Not sure how that works."

          Probably your're right =)
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        • Jul 21 2011: Thank you for explaining that concept. I am not worrying about getting into trouble but rather misunderstanding what the author tried to say. But it is good to know I don't need to worry. Yes that is a good example.

          In some cases doesn't artist wants its viewers to get a specific message? For example, JR's photos showing people from Israel and Palestine laughing side by side is, I think, is an attempt to communicate a message that we are all the same human beings regardless of where we come from?
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        • Jul 21 2011: Hi Birdia,

          "all I need to do is to take a walk in the countryside and observe nature. Secondly, "how destructive a force progress is on life" can be seen on the news everyday, in fact, many people are living within that destruction. I think I would have preferred a documentary."

          Not everyone does observe nature or watches documentaries. For those that don't a movie is a good way to communicate those ideas.
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        • Jul 21 2011: Birdia, I am sorry for mixing these concepts and words =) I will read more about it to avoid future confusions when discussing it with you. That way I will save you some grief hahaha

          Cheers and thanks!
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        • Jul 22 2011: @Birdia, I was only trying to say that movies in general are a great way to influence people. I did not try to discuss a particular movie any more. Anyway I think we said enough about this. cheers
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      Jul 18 2011: Greetings from Singapore! I've just confirmed that some pornography sites are banned (all in the name of research of course =P).

      Singapore's stance on banning porn sites seems to be symbolic:
      http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/singaporescene/no-plan-block-xxx-websites-mda-isps-053031033.html

      Singapore's authorities justify this by saying that its population is largely conservative. I feel it’s an okay stance which tries to accommodate both sides. The local ISPs (internet service providers) are offering an additional 'family internet filter service' for worried parents, while the authorities do not aggressively enforce an all porn site ban. I think the symbolic ban on porn might ironically have the opposite effect of getting youths more curious about it though (I know I would, lol).

      With regards to the video and discussion topic, the best way forward, I believe, is informed citizens actively engaging with a government who is willing to listen and serve its citizens. Citizens should play their part by keeping abreast with the latest developments (such as by watching TED videos and gaining more perspectives on current issues, *thank you TED*). The government’s role is to discuss with and consult citizens on these issues.

      It may not always be easy, as it can be difficult to find the balance between protecting civil liberties/free speech vs. security, as mentioned in the video. Citizens may not always be ‘good’ and governments maybe not always make the best choices.

      But I’m optimistic that we will find a way through shared dialog and communication, just as the internet has empowered us to do so!
      • Jul 19 2011: Thank you Daniel for the research for us! =)

        I think you have well described the options both the government and citizens have. I think question that I and Birdia have is how can we achieve a good level of engagement of citizens? It seems that many people are occupied by TV, work and families with little time for anything else? =)
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          Jul 20 2011: You're welcome Zdenek & Birdia =)

          Unfortunately, the scarcity of personal resources of time & energy requires that we make choices on where our attention is best spent. Everyone values things differently, which is fine; I just hope we don’t reach a point where we take the internet for granted.

          Well if you can’t beat 'em, join 'em, if TV is consuming ppl, I say we advertise TED on the TV! (me and my silly ideas XD)


          We’re got a great thing going here: awesome TED videos and an online community where ppl can participate in such discussions. I'm sure if we keep it up, ppl will be more likely to engage in these exchange of ideas.
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          Jul 20 2011: Hey Birdia. Interestingly, the impetus for the chewing gum ban was to prevent the disruption of train service (at least according to wiki):
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewing_gum_ban_in_Singapore

          To be honest, I don’t quite know what to make of it. I guess having grown up with limited access to chewing gum might have altered my perceptions for the need for it.

          I’m more concerned about laws affecting freedom of speech. I understand the authorities’ stance on the topics of race & religious (given Singapore’s history of racial riots in the 1960s), but it shouldn’t apply censorship to politically differing views.

          Take away our ability to chew gum but don’t take away our ability to speak.


          Managing political dissent by Catherine Lim:
          http://www.littlespeck.com/SpecialReport/SpecialRpt-catherine-060120.htm
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        • Jul 21 2011: Hello Birdia,

          "I think everyone has his/her freedom to do what they enjoy to do in life and contribute only if they want to.

          Anything more than inspiration and encouragement is simply: coercion."

          Yes everyone has freedom and no one should be coerced. I absolutely agree and I never intended otherwise.

          What I wonder about thou is whether people have moral obligation and duties (based on their abilities) to educate themselves and to some degree help others (strangers) in developing world (with inspiration and encouragement). Or is it coercion to just state this assumption? =)

          My thinking is that many people in the past centuries sacrificed themselves for us having freedom and rights (just think about all those dead WWII soldiers). Then you have people in developing countries esp. in Africa that have unequal position compared to us, "stuck" in their country's boundary and history. Is it fair or are we obliged in some way to help?

          My second view is that everything is connected. People are making uninformed decisions that affects everyone by voting for certain laws, politicians or tax breaks. We, consumers of goods and energy, affect people around the world that have nothing by polluting the environment (thou I think only through technology we can revert this). We are causing global warming and subsequently droughts and rice in global prices.

          So while everyone should enjoy fully their life, do they also have some obligations I mentioned? Or should we leave that all up to our governments?

          I hope this makes a little sense but I am just thinking aloud right now =)

          Cheers.
      • Jul 20 2011: @Birdia

        "I don't think people should feel bad about what they choose to care about in their lives, work and families are important, although I agree too much TV is probably very bad for us."

        Sorry I didn't mean that. I am just sad that sometimes TV has so much power over people. I was once like that spending 5 hours or more daily watching TV. I have no memory of what I watched but I do remember everything I did when I stop doing that lol

        I also wonder to what degree each person should in some way contribute to the society in terms of volunteering, helping to protect the environment and/or donating on regular basis? I feel obligated to do so as we are benefiting from all the sacrifices that people in the past did. Sometimes we might be caught in our own world of shopping, consumerism and celebrities =)

        "Gum-chewing (or banana-eating) rebels should be encouraged!! :)"
        Well said lol We do need competitive ideas and views.

        @Daniel

        Yes great idea. We should advertise TED on TV or at least on the new Google TV ad network =)

        I am still hopeful that at least some of my friends will come to TED to watch some videos and discuss it.

        "Take away our ability to chew gum but don’t take away our ability to speak."
        Yes I agree that chew gum ban can be tolerated (one can do it in privacy of his/her home =) but freedom of speech is essential.
    • Jul 21 2011: I believe that transparency is the key. It must be clear to all what the criteria for banning are, and society must stick to them. Clear laws enforced by courts. It is not enough if Sen. Joe Lieberman personally doesn't like it, an example used in MacKinnon's talk. Clear laws, written by legislators, subject to veto or repeal by other branches of government, are less likely stifle our rights without ringing alarm bells.

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