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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    tian ye

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    Jul 13 2011: Pal, I just want to offer a sense of what's really happening in china. A lot of content of the internet, I mean a uncountable number, have been censored in the name of "protecting citizens from the public threat, or immorality".
    • Jul 13 2011: Of course human rights in china are extremely suppressed. Actually, China government censors all I/O thru the internet. In this case, bringing people the free access of the internet is the one way to improve human rights. No one doubts about that.

      As other friends mentioned below, government's role is minimized in the nation which citizens have full human rights. However, violences and crimes occured among that citizens. In this case, government can enforce law to protect other citizens. That IS the minimized role of the government.

      Remember: the opposite meaning of this debate thread is NOT "governments are always good"
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        tian ye

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        Jul 13 2011: I mean "protecting citizens from the public threat, or immorality" is a good wish ,but may not works well in daily practice. Because the boundary is extremely blured, even sometimes . For instance, homosexuality ,is it moral or immoral? who have the right to define that?
        Moreover it could be used as cover to do dirty things.
        what the goverment ought to do,I think, is to make sure everyone play by law and should not get involved in a micro level.
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          Jul 16 2011: I do agree with Tian, for those of us living behind the Great Firewall, without a VPN, it is impossible to access many websites, Youtube, Facebook and numerous blogs are censored for political reasons. Even blogs that have never spoken about China or pose any threat they block them. You have sometimes problems to access Gmail...

          We have the right of self-possession and although the state should make sure societies are harmonious that should not be done through censoring and limiting people's rights. Morals and values, although to an extent I agree government should advocate for virtue and family oriented policies (not only secluding family to the idea of a man and a women in one household), that should be up to the individual or the community.
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        Jul 17 2011: Today's china is no longer what you read in Tao Te Ching. 95%(even more) of chinese can not read ancient chinese article. moreover most chinese just don't care about any moral code or principle.

        the theory of Tao Te Ching is only one of many theories, And rule by Tao Te Ching is and was always a good wish, a hypothetical theory and most importantly a cover for the reality, which ruled by Han Feizi's theory .

        the average chinese's approach to internet is no different than that in the west.The only difference is the attitude of the goverment, here in china goverment's priority-goal is always keeping everything in control and leaving no place for independence. the goverment sensor lots of content of internet for political reasons far far far far more than any other reasons, say, protecting children.
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        Jul 17 2011: sorry, I think ,I have not made my point clear.
        I fully understand what the passage say. what I want to say is that what the govt is doing may seemingly be in accordance with the theory of the passage.
        In fact, they just try making everyone away from knowing what they are doing----edging out everyone and collecting weath alone.

        for example, "not to showing the people what is likely to excite their desires is seen to be a way to keep their minds from disorder." so that the goverment can indulge themselves in the desire.

        "The sage, in the exercise of his government, empties the minds of the people, weakens their will." so that no one would pose a threat to their dictatorship.

        Passages like this are often used as cover by the govt. because these passages provide plausible legitimacy making people, who are deprived of many things still believe in the govt,

        overall, they just make every citizen becoming slave who only work not complain.

        hope this time I made myself clear. : - )
        • Jul 18 2011: @Tian and Glipona

          Interesting insights into China thank you guys.

          From the West point of view, the Tao seems to come from human insights of the connection of all things. It is special because a lot of the things said in the Tao resonate, at least to me, with the way I feel inside about the nature of human beings. The Bible nor the Koran speaks to me as an equal. I do see them as fairy tales speaking down to me as a servant.

          I don't believe we are naive about the Tao, I still see many truths in the words and I also see that people with power almost always fall under the same spells. In fact I find that there are very little differences in any human being. I am from California, near San Fransisco. It is considered to be one of the most liberal of the states and so has the most freedoms but we know that is more or less an illusion. We are in the same waters on different ships. These conversations on TED are enlightening all of us.
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        Jul 18 2011: Ja,
        I love reading those ancient passages and seeking inspiration from it.
        But I feel so sad that it has been hijacked to cover dirty things.
        • Jul 19 2011: I have to admit China does seem a magical place to me. I recently watched a short documentary called "What the Ancients Knew" on China.

          Written language and printed text? About a thousand years before the West
          Ships and global travel? About 500 years before the West (it appears China came to America long before Vespucci)
          Technology like a seismograph and mechanical clock? Before the West.
          A spherical shaped device used to chart the movements of the stars.(That means they never thought the Earth was flat)
          Western philosophy tends to make things to create their world.
          Eastern philosophy seems to emulate nature to create its world.

          We use it so much, youtube is practically a verb in the states. You can see TED but not youtube? 90% is crap. TED is better anyway.
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      Jul 19 2011: China is a country that is developing into a future democracy; the problem is that it is dealing with a controlling government and enormous disinterest of most citizens due to the system they grew up with. Patience will be paramount.
  • Jul 14 2011: great question! i think your answer lies in "...there is a reason for protecting citizens from the public threat, or immorality."

    what is immoral? people in any group are going to have different takes in exactly what immoral behaviour is. some have good reasons for their opinion, while others hold no logical but a lot of firm belief. for example i'm sure we could find people who agree that it's immoral to stifle free speech, but we could also find people who feel very strongly that allowing anyone to say whatever they want is very immoral.

    your act of posting a question on the internet can be either moral or immoral, depending on who is making that judgement.

    personally i think nothing at all should ever be censored. we should be free to see whatever we like because it is up to us to decide what we do with what we've seen or learned. some would argue that for example bomb-making techniques should be censored, but i say that there's a big difference between reading about how to make a bomb and actually trying to kill people, in the same way having a drivers license doesn't mean a person is sure to commit vehicular manslaughter.
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    Jul 14 2011: "Are citizens ALWAYS good?" No. And neither are governments or companies, but organizations such as governments and companies tend to have the financial and legal powers; they make the laws, they police the laws, they judge the plaintiffs. Sometimes citizens, or subjects if one lives under a non-elected ruler, have limited influence on the powers others have over them; we can vote now and then, we can be on juries, we can boycott a company's goods.

    Freedom of choice is important - the freedom to choose between, say, Facebook and LinkedIn and MySpace etc. Then companies will tailor their service to meet our actual need rather than what they want to give us. There needs to be a larger or more obvious difference in the options; voting for right or left in an election becomes a little silly when they both stand for the same thing.

    Along with freedom of choice we need access to information, which is easy to interpret, about these companies and what deals they're brokering with governments. So that we can boycott or lobby, organize against or in defence of companies we want to censure or support.

    I want to know what company's user agreements actually mean when we accept them to use their service. I often don't see the point of the "accept/don't accept" choice in user agreements. Mostly we accept because not accepting the agreement means cyber-oblivion. I'd like to see a third option. "Don't accept the agreement but wish to use the service anyway". Why not? Maybe such an agreement will allow read-only privileges or limited or monitored participation. I don't have to sign an acceptance form if I want to buy a pair of shoes or go on a fairground ride - so why do I need one to type this?

    With freedom of choice and freedom of expression, we can censor ourselves and we can't censor others. Are we ready to see what that actually means in reality?
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    Jul 13 2011: I've always seen the internet as really the only borderless way to connect everyone on the planet (at least for now.) Once states start tailoring their citizens' internet experience to match their agenda, you lose that global continuity that makes the internet such a powerful tool for international organization and communication.

    I think the reasons for governments censoring the internet is very obvious, even to the citizens. I also think this creates an atmosphere of distrust between the citizens and the government. What are they hiding from me and why?
    • Jul 13 2011: I totally agree with you that censorship by government is to often. I think one possible reason is that "beyond every formations of government has the exclusive parties of people". Political party is the one significant example of "exclusive parties".

      From this, we can think censorship by government is censorship by political parties. The governing party censors some critics to sustain their political life. I think that is the reason why government censors, especially critics opposed to government.
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        Jul 13 2011: Just to clarify, you mean that whatever political party is in office has the power (and exercises the power) to endorse their viewpoint while suppressing opposing ones through internet censorship, right?

        I live in the U.S, so I am not really too familiar with explicit government censorship. That being said, the internet has a way of self-censoring itself so that you only see what is consistent with your set of beliefs. I think this is dangerous because it is important to expose yourself to viewpoints and ideas that are not necessarily in your "comfort zone" in order to be truly well-informed.
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    Jul 13 2011: We should use things already set up to guide us...this isn't new territory. Use the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Jul 13 2011: Well, as long as they beleive and act on the role of citizen with the blanket of humanity around it, they are "always" good!
  • Jul 22 2011: Not sure if there's anyone here who lives in Singapore. Some friends who had lived there menioned that many websites containing pornography and overt violence are completely banned. What do you guys think about that?
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    Jul 21 2011: Censorship is good, but bad. I'd say more bad than good. Because who decides what is censored?? that is the biggest problem is censoring without a bias.
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    Jul 20 2011: I believe that everyone is good in their intent. However, good is always subjective and as such, requires a level of responsibility. Does that include censorship? No! Words cannot hurt people. Actions can and do. Sharing ideas is vital especially in a global economy.
  • Jul 20 2011: My last post is to all.

    I'm just continuing the conversation with Birdia and Zdenek.

    Great Topic!! Byeonghoon. I speak to China but I refer to all cultures and for the same reasons.

    The conflicts we have around the globe are due to the "Us and Them" paradigm. There is no 'Us and Them" there is only "Us" (not to be confused with U.S.) We just have different colors, shapes and sizes. vive la différence
  • Jul 20 2011: Hi Birdia and Zdenek

    I scrolled to the top and realized I am hijacking this conversation about censorship and government control to talk more about Art appreciation, so I want to bring my part of the conversation back around full circle.

    Groys says
    ""Art today is thus social and political on a purely formal level, because it reflects on the space of the assembly, of the formation of community, and does so independently of whether an individual artist has a political message in mind or not. But at the same time, this demonstrates the position of the alien in today’s culture in a paradigmatic way. Because I as an individual cannot take in the whole, I must necessarily overlook something that can only be evident to the gaze of others. These others, however, are by no means separated from me culturally: I can imagine them in my position, just as I can imagine myself in theirs. It is an example of the interchangeability of bodies in space that determines our civilisation as a whole today. The familiar and the alien are constantly exchanging places – and this global ballet cannot be stopped at will, because this constant exchange of places offers the only way to distinguish the familiar from the alien at all.""

    Art, and other forms of media, is blurring the cultural divides and I think this is what China's government is worried about. Controlling the masses is the business of governments and controlling almost 2 billion "free willed" people is like herding cats and this blurring of the lines will change forever the Chinese Culture.

    I am definitely for this change in all the cultures because I believe breaking down the differences, making people one homogenous society on the planet, will reduce the violence based on nationalistic philosophies. Inside each culture are the belief systems that we have grown up with and for some reason humans tend to think, the way we understand the world is the correct world view.

    1984? I don't think so but we will become similar.
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      • Jul 21 2011: That is a pretty cool building, it appears colossal.

        This is what Groys means when he says; "The familiar and the alien are constantly exchanging places – and this global ballet cannot be stopped at will, because this constant exchange of places..."

        It is already happening all over the globe. We as citizens need to be careful and not let any single group control the process. We do have to understand that some long held cultural beliefs are going to be left in the history books in order to make room for each other, which will happen all by itself as we get to know one another. This is that "deculturalization" Groys speaks of, many are going to fight tooth and nail against this and I understand but the globe is getting smaller and its going to happen anyway.

        I'm not referring to anyone in particular or any groups as this is a planetary event all of us will be affected although as individuals.
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    Jul 19 2011: Rebecca MacKinnon (funny fake lapsus, Klinton) was making another point, too, as you know: what can be done to have big companies that influence the internet's freedom work for citizens and not against them? You are right that this means also discussing about what censorship really is. But its point is focused also on companies. And I ask myself: with companies so much more powerful than they were in front of the states, don't we need a more global government to make a balance? I guess that the universal declaration of human rights has long been the starting point for this kind of discussion. But different context have different feelings about the matter. Thus, are we viewing a sort of globalization that is in fact a subtle division? Sorry for using this place for asking more questions...
  • Jul 19 2011: The protections you mention are usually used as an argument to start politic censorship. Informed citizens don't need governments or institutions to protect them from listening to criticism in the name of morality.

    Information and transparency are always good as they allow citizens to debate their moral values and citizens should be educated on how to analyse information, refusing to accept all they read as the truth.

    I do agree institutions should do more to protect minors, pursuit and sentence child pornographers and to avoid that informations on how to build deadly weapons become public. Going beyond basic premisses threatens our freedoms and democracy.
  • Jul 19 2011: I agree Rebecca, the government doesn't want us thinking for ourselves.
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    Jul 18 2011: No, citizens are not always good but the problem arises in who does the judging.
    Governments are not always good either.
  • Jul 18 2011: the more important question, in my humble opinion, would be, are humans always good? what we are in "real" world is what we are in the "digital" world.
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    Jul 17 2011: We the Citizens, by our deep intuition are all good. (http://Bit.Ly/KeyPower)

    However, some of us can be trapped in the wrong belief of our own selves, wrong opinion of others about our own selves, or the exclusivity of our own righteousness that we seem to know can only be expressed in our own language and culture. The internet can help keep us in this prisons or the internet can be seen as the extension of our free minds and the power of our hearts to right the wrong around us.

    Our Governments are complex within its inner workings yet it works in a simple formula. We the people live and socialize and in order for us to do this in large scale, we empower a government to ensure that we are all happily living and socializing. We empower the business and economy that makes it all possible in an earth-sustainably way.

    We have attempted in our history to make the system (government-business) work and it had produced tainted concepts like communism, socialism, totalitarianism and even democracy and capitalism. We attempted to use different equations but the basic formula is still the same.

    Our challenge today is to join many of our fellow earth citizens who are now actively advancing the right ideas and are also contributing in transforming our world, all made possible by the power of the internet and the power of our energized hearts and minds.
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    Jul 17 2011: Could government and any so called system in real world before intenet eveolved stop all bad thing through censorship , supression or law e.g. drug traficking, child abuse, force prostitution, extrimism, racism, crime against humanity...... you name it ?

    If that was effective world could turn in to a much better place already.........

    In such case why those power centers will be able to drive only good things in virtual world (as per their definition though)......?

    I agree all CITIZENs are not always good. But are governments or any such controlling bodies always GOOD?
  • Jul 17 2011: My personal opinion is that we should not tailor the internet to OUR perception of what is acceptable.
    If you see a site that you find unacceptable for any number of reasons, that's your opinion and you don't have to go there. But I really don't think it is right to cut off the rights of knowledge to any person because someone thinks that it instills too many ideas in them. That is one the things I just can't stand about China, the way they manipulate their culture by cutting them off from every idea they don't like and telling them this is what's right and this is what's wrong. I don't think is any reason to prevent people from seeing the the opinions of others and their work.
  • Jul 17 2011: One good way to get people to want to look at something is to put a veil over it and tell people they cannot look. Humans tend to question the unknown. It seems exposing the ugliness and shining a spotlight on it also exposes the darkness inside people forcing them out of the shadows. I think it dangerous for China to try and protect its people from this darkness and not trust the individual. There are a lot of people there, I wouldn't want them angry at me.

    Google should not play a part in that censorship. It makes me wonder how much is being kept from me in the US.
  • Jul 16 2011: Please fellow Korean citizen grammar check before posting. As for people. Many people would do illegal things if they could get away with it. The internet is like a river, some drink from it some pee into it. But in the end the internet is a personal affair. The only exchange is information. It is up to people to use that information wisely. I know how to make an atom bomb thanks to the internet. A nuclear reactor, laser gun that can blind and burn. A microwave gun, railgun, potato gun and elastic machine gun using legos. I have yet to build any of them (although i did make a homemade pellet gun once just for the fun of it). Anyway don't burn the book because someone threw it. Put the guys who use the internet wrongly into jails. That is the governments only role. If they can stop you peeing in the street they can stop people who misuse the internet.
    • Jul 19 2011: I may never swim again thank you.(sarcasm).

      When something is really offensive, most humans agree that it is. I hear a common phrase a lot, "One bad apple spoils the bunch" I'm sure there is an equivalent phrase in many cultures but the best you can do is throw out the one bad apple. It is better to let people burn themselves by touching the fire than to keep them so far away they can only wonder about it.

      Thats how I feel about policing drug use. When they can keep drugs out of a maximum security prison then we can talk about how to clean up streets.

      I'm with you, Jaeyun. I have my limited free will. Let me use it.
  • Jul 16 2011: I see many great posts on this topic here. I don't have much to add =)

    I think online content should be regulated the same way offline speech is. What should be censored, in my opinion, is hate speech, enticement to violence and illegal activity such as child porn. Underage kids also need to be protected from adult material and violence.

    I don't think speech should be otherwise censored. As long as one does not attack personal appearance/abilities then we can always expect that content can make some people feel offended but that should not be a reason for censoring such content.
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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:

        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 =)

    • Jul 17 2011: Hello Birdia,

      Here is a link to the Wikipedia's article from which I quoted in my post: (see the section: Laws and movements)

      I have seen several of his pictures from a link on his wiki page (70 photos...):

      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:
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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?

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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:

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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:

      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):

          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:

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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 =)

      • 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.


        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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    Jul 13 2011: Public threat? That is an illusion. In America we have a constitution, unlike, in say, ancient Athens Greece. This analogy of the bewilder herd has been beaten into everybody's head — that is, democracy is a vice and what is needed are the more capable class of men to make important decisions for us — that is total hogwash! THE SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP IS THE PUBLIC! The labour force, the 80% of our general population, you and your family, this is the work force, these are the people who should be in control of their own lives and have a say in decisions that effect them.
    What I think we can all hope for is a government that is like an artifact. It stands for something and that is all. That in the future we are all self-governed in the actuality of common flourishing.
    I fear the polyarchy, I fear the owners of publicly subsidized corporations that sequester profits privately, and most of all, I fear that people (the public mind) will not recognize the outgrowths of the immoral functions of irrelevant institutional behavior.

    The internet was ours to begin with, do not forget that — as most things are (commonly aggrandized) — as they should be.
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    Jul 13 2011: it's complicated, but people should expect good from people they don't know
    unless proven othrwise
  • Jul 13 2011: Of course not....
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    Jul 13 2011: I think the role of governments should be limited to security, nothing more
    but even in this case, and with recent technology
    every single person has his own vision and fears about certain issues
    given the ideas of borders (countries make the borders then import/export from one another!) and constitutions make things complicated
    to me, personally
    the role of government must change, time has changed
    governments are the same since the colonization period
    given the changes in technology & environment, the role & structure of the government should change
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    Jul 13 2011: Apparently not.
    But they must be treated as good until proven to be bad...
    I would rely on the memory of the internet. Instead of censorship or monitoring, we simply keep a record of everybody's activity on the net.This is feasible because in a way it already does that. Logging although only slightly different from monitoring, I think, has a significant difference in that it is never actively use. Those logs will be retrieved and scrutinized only and only when a citizen file a complain.