At some point in 2010 or thereabouts as the Arab Spring unfolded with its revolutionary tide breaking across the shores of Mediterranean nations a thought struck me.
This unfolding was at the time attributed to (or at least said to be greatly enabled by) social media platforms – oh the internet, that great liberalizing force. I wasn’t falling for that simple narrative. (I try not to fall for overly simplistic just-so narratives.)
How will our digital landscape come to affect the spread of ideas and beliefs? Especially deeply held beliefs? A deeply important concern, I thought. Thus, Internet + Ideology was born.
A couple of years later I turned the ideas into a research proposal and submitted to UCD. The topic was accepted but I never pursued it because the acceptance did not come with a stipend.
I’m uploading this document here because I no longer want my ideas locked up inside my head. Go ahead, give it a read. As populist movements continue to roil Western nations I am drawn back to these thoughts. Another day I’ll expand on them.
As I thought about this deep problem (policing the boundaries of free speech) I realised that *moderate* means both to be free from excess and to decide whether something stays or not on a forum. Say what you want about the U.S., free speech *maximalists* ought to be glad the internet (and with it a lot of internet culture) started in the U.S. what with its long history of constitutionally protected free speech.
If an internet forum is to self police and to not rely on the actual bobbies to police its content then it makes sense that content on that forum is policed in as transparent, fair, and dare I say it, democratic a manner as possible.
This post is half political, half confessional, and half dyscalculical.
Few like having their core beliefs called into question. That’s why philosophy is a tough old slog. That’s not to say that the many other parts of life that require critical thinking are not a tough old slog. Generally speaking though few disciplines compel a person to be wary of their unexamined beliefs quite to the same extent that philosophy compels them†. We look at the world through the window of our beliefs, which is why people come to radically different conclusions about identical circumstances. The more fearless the philosopher the more transparent and without defect the window. This is one reason to mistrust technocrats, formalists, and all those who would instruct with mathematical, formal, or technical language.