Anarchy in the UI
By Jonathan Salem Baskin

Is It Possible To Discover Truth Without Trust?

It's culturally incorrect to even suggest that the open and incessant sharing of information isn't a wonderful thing. We know more the more we know, or so the conventional wisdom goes, and not only should anything be everyone's business, but it should be provided without charge. History is a dialectic about information struggling to be free. Freedom of information evangelists call this "radical transparency" and label it an absolute good.

Others might call it chaos. I worry that most of us live in the gap between this theory and reality its pursuit invents. Here are a few uncomfortable questions that nobody seems willing to ask, let alone answer:

The old days of distributing information were imperfect. Facts were purposefully suppressed and lies propagated for nefarious purposes. If anything, the old days revealed that truth wasn't an abstract ideal for which we could strive to never reach, but rather a choice that we made in our lives, individually and collectively, for a variety of reasons. Convenience. Need. Expectation. Requirements.

Institutions of authority -- governments, businesses, newspaper editors -- haven't become less trustworthy over time. We've chosen to distrust them, and embrace instead a different idea about what truth is, and from where it originates.

It's really interesting that the biggest byproduct of this choice is that we generally don't seem to be able to settle on any truths at all.

Have we traded certainty for anarchy? Wait for the leak on my conclusion before you read the leak on the leak.

Added: 19th August 2010