E. Miller on Sun, 20 Apr 2003 17:40:35 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The Second Superpower

Hmm, interesting idea, though there's a few holes begging to be plugged in
the argument...

For one, the essay seems to assume that this Second Superpower can
inherently act in a unified manner to counter the American Superpower.  I
don't know about what the author has found, but this would presumably
require some ideological unity, and I certainly don't see this unity in
the blogosphere that I see in, say, Tom DeLay's House Republican Caucus.  
Or to put another way, I don't think you can count on the Instapundit and
Andrew Sullivan crews to hoist this progressive flag.

Though the diffusion and decentralization of the Second Superpower might
be its strength it also would lack the cohesion to act as a whole.  I'm
not saying that the progressive elite on the Web aren't able to utilize
the medium as a strategic tool; I'm saying that if we define a superpower
as a coherent mass of institutionalized power with few rivals, then we
might not want to look at a collection of amorphous informal networks to
establish its foundation.

And I'm curious: 10% of Americans are sympathetic to this line of
reasoning? How does that stack up to the audience for Rush Limbaugh, Ann
Coulter, and Ollie North?  Rush alone has over 20 million core listeners
who presumably would have a few issues with "a broad agenda that includes
social development, environmentalism, health, and human rights."  And I'd
dare to suggest that a few of those 20-plus million might be netizens as

One line popped out at me: "what we are embarked on is a kind of
experimental neurology".  Yes, but a schizophrenic one.  While the
emergence of the blogosphere and other information ecosystems shows
promise for expanding our individual realms of knowledge and interaction
it could just as easily facilitate Balkanized communities of like-minded
individuals, a sort of closed-circuit refuge for knowledge xenophobes who
use the technology as a fertile environment to cultivate shared support
for their ideologies.

People associate themselves with the individuals, activities, ideas,
behaviors, and belief systems that they personally identify with most. In
times of conflict or insecurity about terrorism/the economy/WMD/whatever,
people cling even more to their core beliefs to cope with uncertainty.
Technology won't easily change this.  Let's not confuse the functionality
of these new information pathways with their application in the hands of


On 19-04-2003 23:45, "Elnor Buhard" <buhard@mail.com> wrote:

> one possible solution to the power imbalance....  question remains how such an
> international nation could actually manifest its power militarily, which seems
> to be the bottom line sadly enough.....  eb
> The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head
> James F. Moore
> Berkman Center for Internet & Society
> Monday, March 31, 2003
 -- snip --

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