The Power of Information

“There’s this old movie that opens with this bit talking about how movies are essentially, shit. Because they don’t push the envelope. I think I have a clip of it here, just give me a second.” Drraagh taps a couple buttons on the keyboard before bringing up a video clip:

“See how he talks about realism, about pushing the envelope, about how you could seriously make a film as dark as you might want to,” says the Private Investigator. “This is true, but you need to remember… exactly how dark a game do we want to play, how realistic do we want things to happen like? Noir and cyberpunk genres tend to focus on the idea that life is cheap and bad things happen. Look at some of the commercials that appeared in the Robocop movies to add to the world

Consumerism, capitalism, aggression.. It gets even worse with the Commander Cash commercials from the TV series Robocop.

Why is any of all this important? Since when has your life ever existed without this other stuff happening around it? You get out of bed because your alarm clock starts to beep, maybe you turn it to some music while you get ready. You’re going to hear some advertisements with that music if its radio. Then you go and get the morning news from the paper or the websites and email alerts on your phone… again both full of ads. Then its to your job or school, listening to morning radio as you go.. many more ads, don’t you know. And you know what the idea of ads is for, right? Well, let me get a bit of educational on you.

So, you can see how this influences you and makes impact on the type of world you’re in. If you don’t believe me, I could get into the psychology of things for you here in a very text based thing, but since we’re talking about the media and what we consume and how that makes an impact on us, let’s go to another video tape:

See, now maybe you’re starting to get the idea here. We are shaped by everything that goes on around us and so much of it is filler that we may not even acknowledge on a conscious level, but the bombardment with information, the amount of details that we can be exposed to, the realism that is out there, the bombardment of in your face information that can shape our opinions, our beliefs and by that our choices. And if you think you’re any less gullible, let’s look at the existence of those scientific studies everyone touts about how this or that is bad for you and should be avoided.

But you have no proof.
Oh, I have something much better than proof.
Anecdotal evidence.
Who do you think would be dumb enough to believe anecdotal evidence? Oh, I’ve narrowed my target market to people.
I have news for you.
We people are smarter than we look.
How hard would that be, really? Personally, I require scientific evidence before I believe anything.
No, you don’t.
Yes, I do.
No, you only think you do.
But in fact, you rely on media reports that scientific evidence exists.
You don’t actually see the evidence yourself.
I don’t have time to read all the scientific studies myself.
Oh, so you’re not gullible, you’re just busy.
That’s right.
So when I tell people they have chronic cubicle syndrome, they won’t be gullible, they’ll be busy, just like you.

Source Dilbert: The Animated Series, Season 2 Episode 16: The Fact

Drraagh starts to slowly pace around his office, opening one of the drawers to his filing cabinets. “So many places are trying to go paperless these days, keep all the information current and up to the minute with accessible databases, but just think how our world will be when all the information comes from software. Imagine if all human knowledge simply came from sites like Wikipedia? Well, in the idea of cyberpunk, there is knowsofts which essentially are ‘Everything you ever wanted to know about’ chips you plug into your brain yo make you a genius in that field. Great, but limited to the fact that you only know the details. Imagine being a sculptor, you know the hows and whys and styles of sculpting and could probably make any sculpture you wanted, but it is all mechanical, done by rote. It is not creative, it is assembly line.”

A soft sight and a closure of the drawer, “But again…what is all of the importance of this? It is the realism, the actual grit that makes up the world around you. There are lives going on around that which you take up, so how do those lives, how do those events affect those outside of the main circle? Let me use another situation for you, something on a smaller scale than the whole world wide versions we’ve been talking about. Let’s go to the small scale and have three countries, simply labelled A, B, C.”

“A and B are at war for land and resources, C is a third party disconnected from this direct conflict. However, C trades with both A and B for resources, and that allows C to get benefits from whatever resources A and B need, sometimes even getting great deals by trading with B for resources A needs to give to A for more resources that C needs. Now, let’s say that A takes over B finally and wins the war. This now could have drastic implications on how C exists. The trade scales have just tipped, not to mention what if A decides to become more power hungry and start coming after C? So they better be getting prepared for this drastic change that could be coming. But, here’s the catch that our actions are based on our observations and interpretation of that data….”

“Country A has just won a grueling battle against B,and they decide that they want to relax, savour this hard fought victory and make peace with C,so the two can co-exist and there will be no problems. Well, on observing C, they see they are fortifying, they are arming their troops, they have their war machine going full force. Is A still going to think that peace is going to be the way or are they going to wonder if C is now coming to pick at the remains of this battle in hope to be expanding their own influence when A is down troops?”

Drraagh pauses and strokes his chin, “To talk about the power of information, especially the little scraps we can collect… Let me try a bigger example for you, using various little scraps leading to something bigger. Let’s look at spies, and the majority of “agents” they’ve got are folks recruited just enough to be turned into assets. In most cases, they don’t even know what they’re really doing. They’ve got a good-looking new boyfriend who’s curious about their work as a congressional intern, lets say, or a video gaming buddy who’s really interested in their latest R&D project, a neighbor who knows their travel schedule as a mid-level executive assistant because he house-sits their cat, or a new guy at work who’s just such a fantastic listener everyone tells him all the juicy office gossip.

These people, who don’t even know they’re rubbing elbows with a spy, are assets. Take some of my previous assets as examples. Thanks to the girlfriend asset, we know that a certain congressman is visiting an corporate facility next month. Thanks to the video gaming asset, we know that corporation is about to pitch the new Bravo assault rifle to him in a bid to get the Marines to make it their standard issue. Thanks to the asset who’s open with her cat-sitter, we know the corporation is flying in a shark of a negotiator to make the formal pitch. Thanks to the chatty-Cathy who loves to spread rumors, we know that this executive did something – rather, someone – at the last office party, and that his wife would be less than pleased to find out. Putting it all together, we know we need to get an agent in place to watch the executive more closely, find evidence of infidelity, and blackmail him with it, all before the scheduled facility visit. That’s how we protect our employers ability to make their own bid to supply the Marines with assault rifles.

Be much harder to do without all that information, wouldn’t it? So.. be considerate about the information that you provide and how it paints your view of the world… or the view that you provide to others.”