As I promised. BALDWIN doesn't mince his words. But what to make of his arguments.
His main point I think is pretty indisputable. He's right to identify 1989 as the last year of the 20th century and the first year of the 21st century, both in terms of it being the moment that the Berlin Wall fell and the world wide web was invented. And he's right to argue that we got it totally wrong.
Rather than representing the end of history in the universal triumph of liberal democracy 1989 actually represents the beginning of what Baldwin calls an increasingly abusive relationship between technology and politics.
So how to fix this abusive relationship. Baldwin's policy recommendations are smart. The banning of political advertising on the Internet might be hard to execute.
Given the acute vulnerability of the system, essentially the same is true of his arguments; in favor of regulating the use and mining of data, as well as the legal obligation of social media companies to verify the identities of their users.
I was also intrigued by his idea of a tax on Google and Facebook profits which would then be reinvested back into curated local media.
I like his take on the dissent of all news media since 1989. That was the year, he reminds us that Sky News started and the 24/7 news media became preoccupied with transforming every moment into an overinflated drama.
It's not surprising then, that politics itself has come to reflect this drama and that we have 24/7 style politicians like Donald Trump who are master manipulators of this all consuming drama.
His analysis of the Internet is slightly less convincing.
He argues that nuance is essential to democracy and that nuance doesn't travel well on the Internet. That may be true on public social networks like Twitter and Facebook, but this podcast for example prides itself on its nuance and so does much other long tail content on the internet
I'm also ambivalent about Baldwin's top down analysis of democracy.
It's the media and the tech community. That's the problem he insists. And so it's newspapers and journalists and TV stations and Internet companies rather than quote ‘unquote’ the people that need to change.
As a veteran journalist however I suspect that Baldwin gives too much significance to the power of media. He thus sees it as both the problem and the solution to the crisis of democracy. This analysis I think lacks nuance.
Yes media matters in today's crisis of democracy but blaming media is too simplistic. We collectively are the problem. And so it is us you and I and everyone else that ultimately needs to change.
Hope you enjoyed this week’s episode with Tom Baldwin, you can find out more about him here:
Find Tom’s Book here:
Control Alt Delete - How Politics And Media Crashed Democracy
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Produced by Jason Sanderson -Podcast Tech