David Brin on transparency and accountability

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August 9, 2011 · 4 comments

David Brin, a physicist and Hugo and Nebula award-winning science fiction writer, wrote the prescient 1997 nonfiction book, The Transparent Society, which won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association. He’s written a new essay revisiting the themes of that book and discusses how the ideas presented in The Transparent Society relate to his new essay and to the world today. The government continues to increase its ability to look in on citizens, creating an Orwellian-like society that people may find alarming. According to Brin, reciprocal accountability, which is the ability for people to look back at the government and hold it accountable, is key to minimizing undesirable effects and behaviors. Brin goes on to discuss the benefits of a more pragmatic approach to transparency as opposed to immediate and radical transparency like WikiLeaks.



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  • Inwarresolution

    “How do you explain the 25% of Americans who stay glued to Fox News?”  Stupid statements like that lose you credibility.  Oh, wait, you can be hard on the left, too?  “Monsters can arrive from the left?”  Really?  Are you sure?  You mean, like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Castro, Chavez?  Like that?  Like every other liberal who wants to redistribute wealth, which necessarily requires force to separate people from their property in order to redistribute it.  

  • Vergilius Cincinatus

    Disliked the knee-jerk pragmatism in the first half, liked much of the second half discussion about how social pressure can be used to preserve privacy, liked the central thesis that horizontal accountability is better than hierarchical “accountablility.” Someone should tell him that he’s got Hayek backwards and that democracy is a negative-sum game, not positive sum.

  • http://twitter.com/pchelin2 pchelin

    Guest had to use better quality audio hardware/software.
    Last time I checked there was 21-th century out there.

  • http://twitter.com/joekawano Joe Kawano

    I think your blog comments could stand to be more polite, you three.