Rookie Calgary MLA Is Early Victim of the “Human Search Engine”

An engaging article about the ability of humans, rather than machines (eg. regular Google searches), to track down and then amplify interesting or especially incriminating finds.

I have been trying to help introduce the concept of “human search engine” (actually “human flesh search engine” in the original Chinese) to the English-language discourse: it arose a few years ago to describe collective, even mob-like Internet investigations of news stories, often involving corrupt officials, that would otherwise never appear in the state-controlled media of mainland China. The “human search engine” is not typically made up of hackers in the mould of “Anonymous.” It’s just the good old net, exchanging online finds, documents and photographs, and amplifying the interesting ones.

The humans who make up the “engine” are self-appointed oppo researchers who spontaneously combine their free time the way Wikipedia editors combine theirs. The professional media do not have to apologize for being behind the human search engine and making use of what it uncovers, any more than they ought to apologize for being less knowledgeable than Wikipedia and for sometimes consulting it. People enjoy bashing the “mainstream media” for being lazy and having a commie agenda, but the whole thing, the bashers and the bashees, is best understood as an ecosystem. Lions and wildebeests are enemies only superficially.

On a completely related note, I understand why, from a pragmatic view, Rachel Notley bumped Deborah Drever from caucus.

But as a huge believer in free speech, I really think the things Drever posted, though stupid/childish/showing bad judgment/not the types of things a potential MLA should do, were also all legal and it makes me a bit uneasy to see someone censured the way she was.

This will only become a bigger issue as young people enter politics with increasing regularity and we don’t set a good example by trying to pick and choose which actions/activities/language are “allowed” and which aren’t.

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