I had an old blog years ago that I’m happy in a lot of respects is no longer online. It was fun while it lasted, but some things make better memories.
One such memory I recently tracked down, and reading it thirteen years later, it sounds quite a lot like current events swirling around so-called ‘Russian meddling’, ‘troll factories’ and fake news.
I can really imagine having a team of like 5 people working for a PR company who spend like 40+ hours a week writing blog posts. Perhaps each person would distribute their entries over like 10 different fictional blogger identities. They could write on things like news stories, political agendas, different products, all kinds of crap. Each of their fictional blogger identities could talk about roughly the same set of topics, but from a slightly different perspective – but each retaining whatever essential core elements they are trying to describe. I imagine it would bre pretty effective too, that 50 reasonably well-written and frequently-updated blogs would have a fairly wide audience and impact on an audience, which would expand outward in a ripple effect, especially if they were aggressively cross-commenting on real people’s blogs as well.
[…] blogs are not constrained by facts, so the potential to unleash distorted information into the bloodstream of the America people is enormous. And I also forgot to mention that you could also rake in web-ad revenues while you’re doing all this.
— 3 Nov. 2004
So if I was some kind of weird PR company or a government agency trying to influence public opinion, I would totally set up some kind of network of conspiracy theorists, complete with websites, lectures, email discussion lists, books, videos, you name it. I would then study the shit out of the people who were attracted to it. I would gather demographic data, and I would analyze their thought processes and emotional responses. I would then use this information to engineer better-designed news stories, press releases, publicity stunts, and the like. Ones which would be more hack-proof. Simultaneously to studying them, I would also flood the people I was studying with vast amounts of erroneous data to sift through in order to distract them from the more important and more straightforward cultural trends and events that are going on.
– 13 November 2004
What can I say…
There is a state I often find myself in, when working outside. The “closing things down for the day” routine. Shutting the doors to the shed where the chickens live. Putting tools away. Knowing I won’t come back out again today to play with whatever I was working on. Or maybe I will, but if I don’t, then there will be no (extra) harm that will come because of my neglect.
I sometimes feel myself amplifying that feeling out to the end of the season. If it snows today and summer ends in a sudden bluster, it will be okay. It’s not usually (or at least not always completely) true, but in my mind it somehow has to be. Battening down the hatches against the end of the world.
I’ve never found myself thinking so much towards future years. Not in terms of what will I do one day but the future in a matter-of-fact way. That today will be roughly like the next, and the next, and the next. Perhaps on into years, as the trees planted this season grow taller, as the small jobs I do fixing or building around the house get done, and others take their places.
I’ve been 🕵 investigating what it takes to become a licensed private investigator in the province of Quebec. Kind of just for fun, really, as an extension of a burgeoning interest in privacy and data protection. Apparently there is a 135 hr training requirement, but no one seems to be able to point me to an equivalent training that’s both available in English and online.
Okay, fine. So sue me for living in a French province in a bilingual country and asking for resources in English. I get it, there’s a charter to protect the French language from being overwhelmed in a predominantly English-language culture. But still. We can do both, right? I think that’s the ideal.
Anyway, I’ve been simultaneously querying a variety of agencies for help: from associations, to training providers, to provincial authorities in neighboring Ontario. My hobby is emailing people I don’t know, with some weird questions. So I’m actually pretty used to this now.
Ontario has, by comparison, an only 50 hr training requirement which is significantly less than Quebec. Unclear still if you have to actually *be* a resident of that province to be licensed there.
I don’t know though what your practice would conceivably consist of though. If you’re licensed in one province, but operating in another. Maybe I’m going about all this in the completely wrong direction. One possible pathway would be to have the operating province recognize the license given in the other. But for what benefit and to what eventual end?
I’m really not an expert on these things. I’m just someone with a lot of questions. 👀 ❓ But here’s the thing you find when you start asking the people or the agencies, or the people who are out there and who *are* the experts: no one necessarily knows the answer. The questions may never have been asked before. A specific pre-built answer may require interpretation and invention.
And few people acting in official capacities are comfortable being publicly wrong. So it’s a natural human response, I’m sure, to just not to want to answer weirdos with questions. At least that’s commonly where I end up on these hare-brained tangents of mine where I end up emailing a dozen different people for help or answers with a specific question or problem.
There exists, a certain, I guess we could call it ‘tenacity of research‘ which one may possess or perhaps develop as a personality trait… such that following through with it in fullness, and learning to harness and direct it, may actively create answers that didn’t exist before through a radical act of questioning. In the course of asking and answering certain questions, you may through patience and persistence become the eventual expert. You might just invoke an unthing into being.
I don’t know what any of this means, though vis-a-vis where we started. Except, if you gotta 🕵, then 🕵. If you look and you find there’s no answer, you make one out of what’s available and what you can dream up.