H+ Flash Media Team

The idea of a coherent Transhumanist (H+) response to misrepresentation in the media, or indeed outright opposition to H+ ideas, is one that evolved in my mind over the past few years as a member of the UK Transhumanist Association (UKTA). However, it was not until we founded Zero State under the leadership of Dr. Amon Twyman that anything came of it. His radical notion was that we actually do something instead of talk about it! This might seem a rather simple and obvious idea but it is far from that. It is a call to arms along the lines of: “…if not you, who? If not now, when?”, where the predominant ethos is: Just do it! This project is one of the first fruits, where I “just did it”. However, as Amon is busy writing a separate article about the Zero State organization for this magazine I will limit myself to describing this single project.

The purpose is to provide a rapid response in online media to H+ related stories. For example, the comments pages of newspapers. The idea is that editors want to maximize readership and hence advertising revenue — cynical some might claim, but true. Online reader feedback helps them do so by providing them with an idea of the popularity of a given topic or point of view. Simply stated, if an article is slanted against H+ and receives a lot of criticism from the readers comments, the editor may well decide its not good for business and shift bias accordingly. Similarly, if a pro-H+ piece receives lots of praise and an enthusiastic response there will likely be more such articles commissioned.

This of course impacts literally millions of other readers minds and is a very cheap and powerful method of media influence. The mechanism created is an online alert between team members, hopefully hundreds eventually, followed by a percentage of them logging onto the site in question and dominating the discussion in our favor.

Although initially a ZS project it is now inter-organizational and as such will not be exclusively ZS, nor dominated by ZS. To facilitate this a Facebook (FB) group has been created for member alerts, as this is about the most popular common connection point to date for most people. I am a moderator, along with Fabio (Estropico) of the UKTA and Amon. Hopefully a moderator’s job will simply be to approve members.

The idea is that people who are interested in the project sign up to the FB group and receive email alerts about articles of interest. Similarly, anyone who sees an article of interest posts the URL on the FB group along with any explanation they feel necessary. What is crucially important is that there is only this one post. Any comments on the topic should be made in the media outlet concerned, not on our FB group. The reason is that everyone should be getting email alerts from FB and extraneous comments would flood the system with emails and render it useless (imagine if 1000 people all decided to have their say on FB and you were getting thousands of emails a day!). So, if you do not have a URL to post, say nothing on the FB group please. This is so important that those breaking this rule without very good cause will be removed from the project. Consequently there should be very little email traffic created.

Not everyone has to post on everything they see – just dive in on articles or publications that are of interest to you. Try to make one comment per day as a minimum. If a thousand of us do that, it’s 365,000 per year! Also, try to focus on major media outlets, and not waste time with “lone nuts” mouthing off on YouTube or whatever. Conventional mass media, one-to-many, is where the project is aimed.

Note that there is no “party line” or pre-scripted response, because we all know why we are here and all have our own opinions within that remit and can explain in our own words. We should also be free to disagree about methods, but not aims in public (we do want an H+ future, I assume?). Also, you do not have to be knowledgeable about H+ science and technology. Quite often the simple approach of “I’m an ordinary person and this sounds like a good idea” will carry as much (or more) weight than an academic response because more people can identify with it. Remember that you are speaking to ordinary people who themselves are likely to have no expertise and whose opinion of H+ technologies is still in the process of formation — and that includes journalists and editors.

Finally, this needs to be international, and not merely focused on the English speaking world. Once a successful project template has been established I would hope that various people or organizations in different nations copy the format and modus operandi using their local FB in the local language.

The Facebook group for this project is named “H+ Flash Media Team” and can be found at:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/218570128181012/

Any questions can be addressed either to myself or Zero State.

Email: dirk.bruere@zerostate.net
Email: info@zerostate.net

Dirk Bruere – on behalf of Zero State

6 Comments

  1. Silly idea. The Scientologists do exactly the same thing and it’s known in many online media that when an article appears that’s critical of Scientology, the mob arrives soon and the commenters even anticipate them. Do you think it goes unnoticed when Transhumanists organize themselves into a flash mob to attack (or praise) articles? It definitely will give the impression of “us vs. them” and that Transhumanists are radicals who don’t accept criticism.

  2. Well the only issue I see with an ad campaign is how is how people might react to it. You’ve already got the Mormons and the Scientologists putting commericals out there, in much of the same vein as your example commercial. Transhumanism isn’t all flowers and rainbows either, so you’re essentially advocating propaganda. And H+ is in no way a religion, so doing a commercial in the same fashion would portray the opposite.

    I think we should make H+ stickers and start plastering them all over public spaces. If somebody sees something enough they’re bound to be curious and fire up google.

    We need to create a dialog with the public in a clear and concise fashion that will allow discussion about the issues we will face in the future relating to rapid technological change and how we should deal with it SOCIALLY.

    We’ve already seen Alex Jones types pick up Transhumanism as some scary corporatist “agenda” and it’s solely because we haven’t engaged the public and educated them about how Transhumanism is meant to solve the social and societal problems that will occur when technologies become available.

  3. Remember the ZS ethos – just do it. If you want a Google+ alternative, set it up!

    As for the whole H+ advertising campaign thing, the only drawback is $$$. Apart from that, the cheap stealth approach may be better because it does not look like advertising

    • Hmmm fair point actually – the stealth thing is cheap and isn’t obvious.

      However, we do lose out on things such as appeal to emotion: linking up H+ ideals and positive things like smiling, nice music, attractiveness of on-screen individuals and heartfelt quality of testimonials etc. has a powerful unconscious association effect which lingers in the populace.

      We could perhaps go for posters on billboards or something (i.e. cheaper) that do not obviously push a transhumanist agenda. Hell, even things which subtly alter the opinions of up-and-coming generations to be sympathetic towards our goals would be fine.

      Stuff like: “Do something amazing. Study science.” with a picture of a load of high-school kids clustered in awe around a vibrant chemical reaction in a school lab, with a teacher looking fondly over the scene like some proud parental figure.

      Or even tiny things on coffee tables or packets of gum/chocolates/beer bottles (very wide reaching, not-strictly-subliminal messaging). No fancy graphics, just text: “It’s never too late to start learning!” or “Why not pick up a textbook?” And so forth.

      I think this, perhaps, would be much less costly and less obvious than the open advertising 🙂

  4. This is what I don’t understand: Why don’t we just go whole hog, and create an H+ advertising campaign?

    Seriously, you could picture it now: A 40-second advert on television during prime time, slotted in amongst the reruns of One Tree Hill or some such. A woman is shown with her healthy son, both smiling happily as she recounts her tale of how, if it hadn’t been for advancements in stem cell technology, little Timmy would never have recovered from burns he suffered in a tragic accident when he was 3 etc.
    Or a young boy detailing how, through the power of emerging technologies, his father was spared from an early onset of Parkinson’s by having a chip implanted in his head (we have all doubtless heard of both of these treatments, so I won’t bother posting a link to either – don’t want to be “awaiting moderation” for days on end).
    Misty-eyed music soars into a crescendo as both parties fade off screen as a glorious, shiny H+ emblem materialises onscreen, and the tagline reads: “Humanity plus (or H+): using science for a better tomorrow.” Or something like that.

    I realise that to undergo such a campaign would be most costly, but then again, I’m pretty sure we could find a few wealthy sympathisers to aid us in our cause?

    Oh, and @Bevan: True, but sadly we must accept the fact that Facebook is the top dog at the moment. It’s enormous user base (nearly 800 million now or something I heard) is of far more value if we want to propagate a message than any other social network (except maybe Twitter).

  5. What about a Google+ page, or at least something that redirects facebook updates to a Google+ page?

    I’d love to help, but not everyone uses facebook, y’know! 😀 😛

Leave a Reply