Citizen Media serves the interests of the New Fourth Estate – citizens and their Households. Citizen Media is the source for information citizens must have to make intelligent decisions in the voting booth and in the market place.

Chapter Three shifts from a focus on the contemporary context in which Citizen Media must arise and flourish, the topic of Chapter Two, to the examination of a specific set of challenges including Idea Spam and Intentional Information Sabotage.


Chapter Three addresses the question:

Who controls the identification and certification of information that citizens need in order to make informed decisions?

To maximize individual freedom, the first option in a simple, small, homogeneous society is to allow anyone say anything to anyone, anytime with no filters or certification.

At the scales of Household, Cluster, Neighborhood and Village (family, extended family, clan and tribe) peer pressure solved almost all the communication problems. This included taking cranky uncle out on a hunting party from which he did not return. It was not always ‘democratic’ but part of learning to speak for clan members was learning what to say and how to say it.

In a large, heterogeneous, complex society, absolute freedom of expression yields chaos. Yelling ‘fire’ in theater is NOT protected speech. However, saying hateful things IS protected unless the statements damage the interests of others and the speaker / writer KNOWS the statements are false. (There are higher standards for ‘public figures’ than for non-public figures.)

As a general rule, all speech that meets threshold criteria such as those established by the US Supreme Court’s interpretations of the US Constitution should be “free.”

However, in a complex society citizens need a way to sort out and understand the intent beyond “the media is the message” or “all the news that is fit to print.” Citizens need to understand the intent of the message and have a way to evolve agreement free from Idea Spam and Intentional Information Sabotage.

In a complex society that is in need of multiple Fundamental Transformations to achieve a sustainable trajectory, a consensus on intelligent citizen action must grow from a concept into a well-considered public judgement of more than a simple majority WITHOUT Idea Spam and Intentional Information Sabotage obstructing the path to that well-considered public judgement. See Coming to Public Judgement: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World Daniel Yankelovich (1991).

In a democratic society all citizens must have access to ideas that ANYONE believes but individuals and Households as well as Enterprises and Institutions would be wise to – and Agencies MUST – take actions based ONLY on ideas that have factual basis and broad citizen support – These are known as well considered public judgements. Gone are the days when ‘representatives’ can ‘know what is best for you.’ See ENOUGH? (Forthcoming)

Reaching a well-considered public judgement is NEVER popular with some minorities. Those who have the interest and ability to undermine progress are frequently those at the top of the Ziggurat who benefit from the current trajectory – aka, Business-As-Usual. Consider here, the timeless axiom by Nicholas Machiavelli concerning the difficulty of changing “the current order.”
Existence of the 20%/60%/20% Guideline in an ever more complex society points to the need for a firewall; a democratically arrived at system to identify and certify of information that citizens must have in order to make informed decisions. Chapter 3 of TRILO-G (Myths That Drive Abandonment and Scatteration) and GLOSSARY (PART THIRTEEN of TRILO-G) discuss the 20%/60%/20% Guideline.

A firewall would protect citizens from “unidentified” and ‘unsupported’ information as well from as Idea Spam and Intentional Information Sabotage during the period when citizens are making up their minds about what is in their best interest – individually AND collectively.

To preserve democratic governance and market economies that fairly allocate resources, Agency action must be NOT be based on the narrow interest of a few. This includes the wealthy at the top of the Ziggurat and of Enterprises and Institutions owned and supported by concentrations of wealth.

The scale of the obscene wealth gap between those at the top of the Ziggurat and all the rest of the citizens – and the fact it is growing wider by the month – is confirmed by recent studies. See End Note One

1. In “Surveying the Aftermath of the Storm” a report released in March 2011, the Federal Reserve Board documented that between 2007 and 2009 the “average American” Household lost 23 percent of its wealth. (CNN 24 Mar 11). The same report indicated that nearly 63 percent of the Households had a drop in net worth. However, in January 2011 The Economic Policy Institute documented that the top one percent of US Households had 225 times the net worth of the average Household. That was UP from ‘ONLY” 190 times the net worth of the average Household in 2004. In other words, the richest got RICHER during The Great Recession. For the reasons for the widening Wealth Gap see Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy and Everyday Life, Robert Reich (2007) and CORNERED: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction, Barry C. Lynn (2010). For a succinct proposal for a solution see “Fire the Rich” in 29 Nov 09 CounterPunch by David Macaray.

A proposal to establish a disinformation firewall to shield Citizen Media (citizen information sources) from Idea Spam and Intentional Information Sabotage is outlined in Chapters Four and Five.

Continue reading this essay.

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