Saturday, January 21, 2006

Blogging and incestuous feedback in OODA loops

Daily Pundit has an interesting bit on blogs and polarization following on from BELTWAY BLOGROLL - The Rise Of Blogs. Daily pundit fastens onto a most interesting statement
Blogs, she added, tend to attract like-minded people -- and ones who are "slightly more ideologically extreme than the general population." The end result: "The Internet is exacerbating political polarization."
While Daily Pundit sees this polarization as true, but the reation as (well) reactionary, and concludes
Was this polarization a bad thing? I think not. Of course, I'm considered something of a polarizing force myself. I don't mind. In fact, I'm proud of it.
It has a different perspective from the OODA loop angle. If blogs allow people to selectively filter the news according to the own personal prejudices, and the virtual nature of the internet insulates those same indivisuals from personal reality checks, isn't it inevitable they will get inside their own OODA loops by incestuos amplification misdirecting orientation?

The existence of Incestuous Amplification shapes one's Orientation by naturally distorting the Observations feeding that Orientation. (The observer sees what he wants to see rather than what is.) When this happens, the Decisions and Actions flowing from that Orientation become progressively disconnected from reality. This process pumps dysfunctional behavior into the OODA loop which then becomes magnified as the effects of the disconnected actions are fed back into the Incestuously Amplified Orientation. As any student of nonlinear dynamics or evolution knows, this kind of positive feedback loop can produce confusion and disorder and ultimately degenerate into chaos or extinction, if the organism becomes disconnected from its environment. Any hint of Incestuous Amplification is therefore a bright red flag." - The View From Mount Olympus Seen from the Cheap Seats
Applied to politics via selective blog reading this would of course inevitably lead to polarization, and more extreme responses and irrational behaviour as opposed to reasoned debate. Regularly reading US liberal vs conservative blogs, I am always struck by the conviction of both sides that the other are not merely wrong in their beliefs, but actually insane. Come to think of it the Gore/Bush political cirus was most of the way there already. Its reminiscent of Israel-Palestine politics, where both accuse CNN of being stooges for the other side. It suggest that at least part of the divided US political camps are already well inside their own OODA loops. So it IS already happening ... one wonders where this increased polarization will lead. It suggests collapse of one or the other political party (if the democratic system works properly), but what if the symptoms are more widespread in the population than just the hard core political activists?

The new electronic media allows fragmentation of popular belief as opposed to the norming effects of the traditional media (and moreso outside the US where the state media is important). More traditionally the boundaries between communities and seperate information spaces have been made by language, geography and religion, but in the virtual world people can easily compartment themselves. Will such a e-seperation leak into the real world, is blogging part of a slippery slide to balkanization?

I'd much rather be watching this fascinating process (both unprecedented and unpredicted, and unpredictable) unfold in a country that wasn't so damn important.

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