Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How internet fighting works


This is good, and I think widely acknowledged. I think it can be worse than that, though. I think potentially good actors can, through feelings of affiliation, promote bad actors on their side and treat good actors on the other side as if they were bad actors on the other side. So it's not just a mismatch or asymmetric information around who you're talking to. It can actively incentivize bad behavior.


  1. There may be silver linings to this... affiliation with bad actors on your side may provide leverage to reform them. It may also just encourage them, of course.

  2. It used to be worse, believe it or not. Online discussion is more polite than it was 20 years ago. Probably thanks to moderation by bloggers. According to research in recent years, it is also more compartmentalized. People mostly talk to people who share their views. I do not think that that leads to reformation. :( The mutual incompatibility of viewpoints may make for hostile communications between groups. There are also those who fan the flames.

    There are those who are open to different viewpoints and serious discussion. Like our gracious host. :) One of those whom I had heard of before, but whom I found mentioned in the research is winterspeak, .

  3. It is generally fringe points of view that are motivated to speak up. The people who are comfortable with a middle of the road position generally have no motivation to get involved.

  4. Dan,

    We have just gone through a period of history that has shown that almost all macro economists were in the water with no swim suit. The tide has gone out and they have been exposed as fraudsters. Objectively, 97% of macro economists are incompetent. A few have admitted they were wrong but most are dishonestly pushing incentive caused misinformation.

    Some of us with the necessary skills have come onto the battle field and have been shooting the wounded. The best tool is to be pointed that the troll is a wackolooney.

    I use Alexander Hamilton because his world view has been confirmed again, but you no longer have to take my word.

    Brad linked a piece, today, which you should print and carry in your billfold, if you are going to claim to be an economist.

    In different words, it explains my POV about the role of information and gov't, a POV that totally rejects Hayek, Austrians, all the bullshit which you and too many others keep shoveling.

    Your small mind appears incapable of understanding that Metcalfe's law rules the economic world and how such means that all your models and ideas are meaningless.

    Here are some sentences:

    The strategic technologies that have repeatedly transformed the market economy – from railroads to the Internet – required the construction of networks whose value in use could not be known when they were first deployed.

    Consequently, innovation at the frontier depends on funding sources that are decoupled from concern for economic value; thus, it cannot be reduced to the optimal allocation of resources. The conventional production function of neoclassical economics offers a dangerously misleading lens through which to interpret the processes of frontier innovation.

    Financial speculation has been, and remains, one required source of funding. Financial bubbles emerge wherever liquid asset markets exist. Indeed, the objects of such speculation astound the imagination: tulip bulbs, gold and silver mines, real estate, the debt of new nations, corporate securities.

    Occasionally, the object of speculation has been one of those fundamental technologies – canals, railroads, electrification, radio, automobiles, microelectronics, computing, the Internet – for which financial speculators have mobilized capital on a scale far beyond what “rational” investors would provide. From the wreckage that has inevitably followed, a succession of new economies has emerged.

    Complementing the role of speculation, activist states have played several roles in encouraging innovation. They have been most effective when pursuing politically legitimate missions that transcend narrow economic calculation: social development, national security, conquering disease.

    In the United States, the government constructed transformational networks (the interstate highway system), massively subsidized their construction (the transcontinental railroads), or played the foundational role in their design and early development (the Internet). Activist states around the world have funded basic science and served as early customers for the novel products that result. For a quarter-century starting in 1950, the US Department of Defense – to cite one crucial example – combined both roles to build the underpinnings of today’s digital economy.


    In sum, economics is a game, like golf, played between the ears. It is about confidence and bubbles and speculation.

    Lewis got it right a few years ago with his classic, The New New Thing.

    Speculation and bubbles are great, for they build networks and give us quantum leaps, powered by Metcalfe's law.


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