The Mercury Times
If you are reading this, and it peaks your interest, wonderful!
This is a project based on an idea I had that had seemed perfect and important and… after doing much more research, discovered that it has basically already been done. In 2006, India had some severe political issues and Fake News falsehoods shaping the public debate. They focussed on making truth have its place and making sure the electorate was informed. The website is MumbaiVotes.com, and it is kind of spooky that one could take some of the phrases used to describe the project, theirs and mine, and switched them out and it would make perfect sense. Some snips from their website:
- “Call it the demand-supply theory at work, but there was a pressing need for an authentic compendium and analysis of every elected representative – and candidate – so that we don’t just Vote – we Select.”
- “have created the most comprehensive portal for reliable, unbiased, perceptive and performance-based information…”
- “To the cynics – we urge them to please consider the astonishing power of Light. Light disinfects everything, by merely shining on the Truth. The Sun of MumbaiVotes has risen and is soaring to that apex from where it will shine vigilant beams on democracy – “
So, the concept has been done before, and it worked. I discovered there were some extremely intelligent and insightful people who were way ahead of me. Some you have read and seen quoted and are academics who study Free Speech, the new Information Age, Politics and how we are all adapting. The MumbaiVotes project started small and now has thousands (its a big country) of people doing research. That is the stage I am soon to be at, having a framework, and getting it nudged in the right direction to where it is possible it could really make a difference mid-terms.
To be clear and open, tho. As with any Fact and Research based type work, it is necessary to take the high road and seek to be impartial. We all have biases, but, to me, any idea or political position that has to be propped up with falsehoods, fake data, imaginary Research Councils, deserves to thave those debunked and any conclusions about policy based on these need to be reevaluated. Politics often has spin, but this isn’t about that. A democracy cannot function in this environment– and the Press, in many ways, has their hands tied because they are supposed to be completely impartial and The Mercury Project/Times has more leeway.
The website, the foundation of the project, was far enough along to migrate it to its domain. And, well, humbled again. It turned out to be good thing as more discussions yielded more clarity and assistance.
So, take a look… realize it will always be “getting better”– and by take a look, I don’t mean the website. Not yet. Just the ideas.
The Mercury Project is meant to be a way to make a difference by providing a synergistic tool for anyone who could use a concentrated dose of compiled facts.
Yes, there is an urgency to have some parts done for mid terms, but it will continue as long as people believe in reason over manipulation, facts over “alternative facts”….Briefly, there are warning signs of a weakened democracy exhibiting in America. Call them symptoms, indicators, markers– it depends on the analogy. The problem isn’t that there is a diversity of opinions, or that some are passionately held, or, one could argue, that there is money, even dark money involved. The system of checks and balances, if functioning, is built to handle this. But, certain conditions are required–and a sense of “correctness”.
1. Independent Press to be a mirror to the people and power and expose what the informed empowered electorate need to see.
2. Protection of basic human rights- equally for all.
3. Voting, a distinct privileged of the citizen, must be protected equally.
4. Military powers exerted in the US, or steps towards a police state — Refused.
5. “State Religion” or intertwining of government and religion forbidden.
6. Excessive corporate power controlled and rules enforced.
7. Monarchy and Aristocratic tendencies shunned.
Times change, cultures and and societies are in constant flux and the babble of voices with different opinions can, and is designed to help the system change. But, different “facts”, or treating an opinion as fact. Is a deeper danger that doesn’t allow self-correction or correct governing.
Democrats (29%) and Republicans (27%) and Independents (43%). Since Independents are the clear majority, one might expect less division. But, the fight for the middle has weaponized information and politicized the sources of it. A person’s sense of “self” traditionally was influenced by cultural heritage, language, religious beliefs, career, and for a minority, political party.
In America today, “a list of accepted facts” consisting of propagandized information has separated off a “sub-group” of our people, and they are close to reaching a societal “tipping point” which would happen at great cost to us all. The decades of snipping away the connecting threads of truth and facts from “beliefs”, and demonizing those not in agreement, has brought us to the point that reasoned discussion is increasingly difficult.
In this “Post-Fact” Age of “Alternative Facts”, “News Presentation” and the related “actual facts” need a better approach. One unique aspect of The Mercury Times is that some articles are “enhanced” with a tool that gives optional contextual details. (We’re calling it an Info-NODE- some details here)
The NODE allows the reader to access supporting links to either support or disprove the assertions of the news piece. It’s detachable and easily shared on all platforms.
These NODE’s are ‘community sourced’, vetted for accuracy, and always a “work in progress.” There may be some you wish to contribute to. There are particular important topics that are prioritized due to upcoming 2018 elections.Whatever capacity you desire-Spectator, editing contributor,or Original Content Author,– The Mercury Times welcomes your involvement. Your comments, feedback, and constructive criticism are also welcome.
Why is it SO bad? How did we get here?
Not so long ago, for validating information, “trusted authority sources” included Encylopedias (often at home) and printed articles–sourced in libraries. These included books, magazines, and newspapers, etc., all of which were fact checked before publication.
“Opinion and Editorial” pieces were labeled as such–a filter the internet lacks. “Freedom of Speech” allows “fact checked” media to be equally treated, and with the same authority as “opinion” and false and intentionally misleading content.
Why DO “whatever this is”?
The Information Age should have given Americans a more informed society. After all, there are over 300,000,000 smart phones able to access the combined knowledge of humanity- quite literally at our fingertips. And, almost everyone has one.
Yet there is more dis-information, more falsehoods, and more Americans believing that the earth is flat. The Mercury Times task is to provide average citizens (journalists, politicians, community leaders, and those influencing America), a simple trusted Tool that is rational and supportable. Most importantly, it should be easily Shared.
One way of sharing content would be a tool like Embed-ly which makes dynamic cards condensed down to a self opening URL which can distributed by eMail,Twitter, text SMS, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest,QR codes, etc.
For once, all the incessant “noise” of falsehoods, can be answered with a simple ” I think that is false and biased. Here’s why.”
“Democracy is the worst form of Government…“
(“Except for all the others..” Churchill, 1947, House of Commons)
Our democracy depends on an informed electorate choosing their representatives in our government (and, that the elected actually serve their constituents).
It’s an imperfect system worsened today by constant, even intentional, falsehoods beyond prior American experience. Aside from propaganda1 the use of one or more media to communicate a message, with the aim of changing someone's mind or actions via psychological manipulation, rather than reasoned discourse. Non-propaganda is of foreign hostile parties, to a manageable degree this manipulative “muckraking” existed when America was still “The Colonies”.
We know that during the writing of the Constitution, the Founders differences of opinion were strongly expressed, but at least they had the luxury of Truths that were “self-evident”.
What is happening today is destructive. The Mercury Times can bring assistance and is assisting with immediate mid-term needs, but it’s scope is larger and it will continue long term after.
Why so URGENT Now?
Not only has “fake news” and propaganda drowned out the truth, it is treated as if it IS the truth. For the first time, our people are barraged with untruths directly from the President of the United States.
This is unprecedented and new tool to correct the narrative is needed. The Mercury Times approach will be synergistic with other traditional efforts to return rational discourse, and hence, solutions that can work, to America.
The majority of Americans want a check on Presidential power after mid-terms. This would enhance that ability.
The Mercury Times believes in civil and respectful discussion of opinions has required based on facts. That doesn’t have a political side. Because if the facts don’t support a position, shouldn’t we know? Many call this a “”Gas lighting” of America. And, Mercury Times is coming into the dialogue even while still finishing up the construction of its website.
Shortly, to work on functionality and debugging, traffic will be needed. Also, too, there are very intriguing data connection tools that intelligent informed early users will give it data to really gain power. The more data the system has, the stronger and more useful it becomes.
If you haven’t clicked through to the UNDER CONSTRUCTION site.
The new tools include:
- Meta-Tag type Footnotes that link to a short blurb and a sortable list of all occurances of that meta-tag where it was noted as important.
- An AI based ‘recommended article’ list of relevant content.. not much there now.
- Info-NODE type curated and “group edited” compilation list on Items.
- News feeds “switchable” from 80/20% Liberal to 80/20% Conservative
- News Feeds, if desired, contextual to the Forum Topic
- “Fringe Feeds” for those not faint of heart.
- Forum (hopefully) is phBBCode friendly, but is tricked out.
- Original Content encouraged (see here)
- NOTE: WHILE RESEARCHING SITES, I noticed one “Author” was writing an impossible amount of articles. That and the other 8 sites he was on are all under the same name. So, we now have an API doing reverse WhoIs domain IP and DNS searches to find these things and an API to do searches of 501-3C’s and other type research and a few others to have the tools of a good research journalist.
**** Note: There are plenty of “News Aggregator” sites so creating another makes as much sense as opening a Mexican food restaurant in San Antonio. I looked at more than 237 Feeds and made notes of sources, bias, emphasis etc. During that process, malware froze my computer three times requiring restarts, scans, and sanitizing.
The News Streams being created at The Mercury Times are blended and none are 100% Liberal or Conservative. There are “Selecters” on some which change the Liberal/Conservative emphasis, and, how far “fringe” one wants to go.
“News bubble’ biased -echo chambers have caused Americans to be unaware that other viewpoints not only exist, but have reasons that they exist. Or, worse, they believe that those out of step are “broken”, “retarded”, “un-American”, “Deplorable”, etc.
Throughout history, mankind’s societies have exhibited the many personality archetypes, some perhaps more Authoritarian or not, or welcoming of change or not, or more fearful or not, or … you get the picture.
There has been, to my knowledge, zero evidence that more than 20-30% of ANY personality trait exists in the population. Humans, besides being contextual and chameleon-like as they progress to language and adulthood, exhibit a strong “herd mentality” which at it’s worst becomes “mob rule” and genocide. This “tipping point” is a real part of humanity.
It has taken time to get to the point that I’m sufficiently anxious to put this much effort and time to get this Project going.
I need help. Mainly minds. I hope I have expressed what I think is possible.
The Mercury Times is part of The Mercury Project, which has a broader set of goals.
Mercury Times will collect a critical mass of data and the many inter-connections made. The articles will be scanned and AI analyzed for word choice, grammar, context connotation weight, overall structure, evidentiary words used, and a bajillion things- and importantly, the actual evaluation of the accuracy of the article. It should be possible to expand this into many real world uses with live simultaneous analysis as fast as the captions appear during a political debate.
the use of one
the use of one or more media to communicate a message, with the aim of changing someone's mind or actions via psychological manipulation, rather than reasoned discourse. Non-propaganda is not the absence of bias ― we're all biased. Propaganda is the (usually purposeful) attempt to hide the bias, to present non-facts as facts, to steer the mind away from the processes of reason that allow us to read through bias critically and to discern facts from fiction, truth from lies. Propagandalytics