netwit 2.01

The Moroccan Initiative



The Moroccan Initiative

This is one hell of a story from the AP, uncovering CIA collaboration with the NYPD to do obsessive spying on Muslim communities in New York — and in particular shops owned by Moroccan immigrants.



The Arabist blog : 23 September 2011





We in Britain would run and run with this one. Moroccans? Why Moroccans? Ah, the Fez. Easy to identify. Or do they wear them? Oh, perhaps that’s Egyptians? Aaaaah! The Road to Morocco starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Now we get it! Road to Guantanamo. (I’m off adopting the cheeky-chappy ‘voice’ of a stand-up comedian we find here in Britain). Do the words Hollywood and stereotypical come to mind?

And so on.

How would they know a Moroccan from an Algerian, Tunisian, Libyan, Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi, Saudi, Bahraini, Qatari, UAE-rie, Omani, Yemeni or indeed Palestinian?

A Syrian – there must be quite a few in New York: what do I know – might like going to Moroccan barbers. And an Egyptian (there are many, many thousands in the US, particularly in places like California) might love Moroccan cuisine. And even go to New York all the way from Los Angeles, say, especially as a treat just to eat Moroccan food.

This blog isn’t reall meant to be for defending the freedom of people all over the world as and when they appear to be losing it, but more a voyage of discovery out into the world – via the internet mainly to see what the Web might provide in way of generalised answers about society operates through networks, and specifically how a digital network that was based on principles of neutrality might be used by governments and businesses to control people even more efficiently that they did in days gone by.

What I’ve learnt so far – and there are tons more things to find out – is politics has two strong countervailing pulls: one freedom under the law, the other progress and change. The latter – most often collected, collated and analysed through the world of the web – provides examples all over the place. Its very complicated now to see wood for tree, with the diversity of ideas and views, which the internet makes readily accessible to so many.

Several people have suggested this very complexity can only really be dealt with by tackling diversity. In ordinary language this means we have to keep looking at lots of different stuff in order to come any near formulating some general rules about where things are going. How to predict the future and adapt to it. Animals and plants adapt to things, but they do it in real time. Humans can plan ahead for what might happen and be ready to have an idea for any number of different situations.

The Web is itself pulled in two directions:

One interesting area is the idea of collective intelligence. This is not something thought up because of the internet and web. It’s been around since humans. But the way things have developed – such as social media – mean that ideas of how people might cooperate have taken flight.

Is there any more chance people will cooperate and make great strides socially and politically just because of digital networks. Techie-guys of all sorts of hues get carried away forgetting that humans are instinctively uncooperative: they are competitive as individuals, families, sports teams, employees, members of political parties, before they act communally. If you watch very carefully in a supermarket, you will see few signs of the shoppers showing group intelligence to make the experience of buying food and other necessaries easier and quicker for everyone.it starts in he car-park, where drivers are obviously out for themselves, and often obstruct other road users.

Supermarkets of all shopping places are where people show distinct antagonism towards others. People don’t smile and greet in these great consumer warehouses. In their genes is the deep-seated instinct to make sure they get the food before someone else. Sometimes when someone is hogging the pasta section, mulling over the varieties of ready-made sauces, with complex arrangements of trolleys slewed across isles to make it impossible for you to pass, one knows this must be so. Although we now pay for things at check out and don’t run around in tribal groups hunting for it, the tribal instincts are still there.

The Internet and Web and all the new social medias have shown to be good for cooperation, but at the same time it is a bed of anger and vitriol. We get Julian Assange saying Facebook is the greatest spying machine ever invented. The recent revelations that on average each FaceBook account has about 800 pages of records on it on the FaceBook severs, does not inspire confidence.

The Twitterati are running with the latest FaceBook revelations. I’ve tweeted to say that no one gets free to use software for nothing. Google search engine is not ‘free’ nor is Gmail. G+ is bound to be even less ‘free’ There are bound to be sets of trade-offs. We supply lots of data about ourselves and our friends in social media, in return we get to connect with them. But we know when we state another personal fact or interconnection or express an opinion we’ve given something away. We have to judge if it’s wise or not. Just as when we register for a site and have to put a name and email address. We always have given things away in the past in other media. A letter to the editor of a newspaper usually had our name and address or town at the bottom. It showed strangers who we had no knowledge of what our deeply held opinions were.

We don’t hand out addresses and telephone numbers willy-nilly in the street. Why should it be different in ICT-land? If Universities in the u.S. have been trawling FaceBook pages to assess prospective candidates are we really surprised? They don’t have to register to access a lot of this stuff. Any one can do keyword searching on Twitter as if it was Google.

Since the Arab Spring we have learnt how governments use social media to find out about their opponents.




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September 30, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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