I pride myself on not just answering a question when I am asked. I prefer the askee to walk away with a better understanding of the problem they are facing and how to overcome it (though sometimes they don’t – sorry). This often means questioning the frame (or box) they have put the question in.
Google is asking a fairly big question at the moment: “What’s the biggest barrier to free expression on the Internet, and what would you do to overcome it?”. Certainly a great topic, worthy of time and effort to explore.
If we took the worst view of the those-in-power-responses-to-whistleblowing-type-activities we could easily suggest some pretty bad things (and many do).
Working with key performance indicators all the time though, I know that the story is almost always infinitely more complex. The only thing I have ever found to explain this is a Larry Lessig quote that is far too long (and even that says something)
This is the problem of attention-span. To understand something—an essay, an argument, a proof of innocence—requires a certain amount of attention. But on many issues, the average, or even rational, amount of attention given to understand many of these correlations, and their defamatory implications, is almost always less than the amount of time required. The result is a systemic misunderstanding–at least if the story is reported in a context, or in a manner, that does not neutralize such misunderstanding. The listing and correlating of data hardly qualifies as such a context. Understanding how and why some stories will be understood, or not understood, provides the key to grasping what is wrong with the tyranny of transparency.
Bring on the Matrix style training download of full, complete, detailed understandings.
PS. “Tell me I’ll forget, show me, I may remember, but involve me and I’ll understand.” – Chinese Proverb