Author Topic: OPERATION: PENNSYLGASM  (Read 4562 times)

tyrannosaurus vex

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OPERATION: PENNSYLGASM
« on: March 13, 2008, 05:12:30 pm »
Okay forget what you thought when you read that topic headline. Admittedly, this idea is probably going to fall on deaf ears but at least hear it out.

The ideas in the thread going on that led to the idea of GASMs went beyond Discordians posting Want Ads for teamwork-driven mindfucks. I think my original idea was the concept of a self-replicating, self-perpetuating meme that could be designed and introduced into a population that could, with little or no administrative effort, result in a premeditated result.

So I've been thinking about ways to test that theory, or at least do a little more R&D on the topic. I think what we need to start with is a population that is already susceptible to, if not actively seeking, memetic infection. Tying a meme to a subject that is already intended for distribution, like politics, should make trasmiting the meme that much easier. We also need to be able to narrow down targets for initial infection as far as possible in order to cut down on the legwork we have to do.

In a little over five weeks from now, the state of Pennsylvania will hold Democratic Party primaries. What we know is that it is considered unlikely for Obama to win this contest. Personally -- I'll admit it -- I'd like to see him win. But I also think that Pennsylvania for the next five weeks is going to be full of people looking for a reason to change their minds, because they'll be constantly bombarded with political sloganeering and they'll be in a more immediately political frame of mind.

So the idea is to test the theory of the "Smart Meme" by designing various kinds of contagious memebombs and releasing them into the wild in Pennsylvania, to see if we can effect any kind of statistical change in the election results. Sounds huge and daunting I know, but if the idea flies at all, it ought to fly in this situation. And it isn't like I expect to turn the results around completely, even if it's a runaway success.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2008, 05:06:37 am by vexati0n »
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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2008, 05:54:27 pm »
> to see if we can effect any kind of statistical change in the election results

you realize there's no way to actually test if he had any influence on electrion results, right?

even if we put in a lot of effort and Obama wins (if), there's still no way to tell whether it was even partly because of doings.

wouldn't it be better to set some other goal than influencing the statistics, like a certain meme getting mention in some mainstream media or something?

otherwise i think it's a cool plan, definitely. although i'm not sure how much help i can be, living on the other side of the pond and all :)
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tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2008, 06:00:50 pm »
I live over a thousand miles away myself and I can't go there, so I might as well live on the Moon as far as that goes. But we should be able to target individuals on the ground there either as infectees or allies, so that distance shouldn't matter so much.

I see your point about measuring success, and we should think about that. But any meme warfare that's effective will probably result in leakage to the mainstream media -- in fact compromising that media somehow will probably be an invaluable method of spreading any meme to begin with.
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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2008, 06:09:51 pm »
In terms of measuring success, I think you can measure it, but in a different way.  I think if you can somehow get feedback from people who vote AND who've absorbed the meme, then you could label that as success.  You wouldn't be able to do it in terms of percentages, but raw numbers.  I'm not sure how you would do that, but, in theory anyway, it's a way to get at some level of success. 
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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2008, 06:20:47 pm »
[brainstorm]

To some extent, we can monitor the meme's lifecycle by watching for other occurances of it. What FORM of meme are we talking about? Slogans? Hot-button talking points?

Is it possible to start a meme like "We the people of Pennsylvania..." and then see it internalized by some?


possible venues
-internet sites, like local forums and what-have-you
-letters to the editors of local publications, such as magazines and newspapers
-writing to political parties to tell them about this New Thing (masquerading as a citizen of Penn.)

The difficulty is, in part, affecting a specific geographic region where we have no physical presence. Then again - is graffiti and handing out flyers really a good way to spread a meme en mass?

Press releases are bursting with memetic potential - but must be handled carefully because they're an "all or nothing" game. Either they get printed or they don't.


Maybe it's a matter of taking an already existing issue and twisting it into something novel.

tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2008, 06:40:14 pm »
I was thinking of being more "subtle" than outright talk about specific candidates or issues. One place where memes seem to be effective is in altering connotation and perception of ideas. One mode of attack would be to take something Clinton is heralding one of her leading qualities, like "Experience," then use memetic warfare to brand Experience with a negative connotation.

Another thing to keep in mind is we can't stick to the Internet since people who are online, not to mention going to care about something they see online, are already likely to be Obama supporters anyway. Having no physical presence, compromising mainstream media is of utmost importance to reach a larger segment of the PA population.

Also to be avoided I think is overblown, negative campaigning against a target. For example calling up people in PA and telling them Hillary is a cunt, isn't going to have any (positive) effect.
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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2008, 07:10:41 pm »
another approach is to target "promiscuous sneezers" - the kind of people who transmit memes with facility. Bloggers, politicians, radio hosts, newspaper editors... This is a difficult approach as it relies on some rather complex info-gathering. Which is, again, difficult since we're not physically in Penn.


Association of one meme with another is a good factor. Like associating Experience with Entrenchment. But isn't that already implicit in Obama's campaign?



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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2008, 07:16:24 pm »
Yes but IMHO he's not doing a good enough job at it. Like any politician, he is already insulated to some extent from actual people. Needs moar viral marketing. Also, Obama can only give sales pitches, which take too long to take hold. Memebombs are faster because they have the ability to dictate culture immediately, whereas traditional campaigns have to plead for culture to change.

We are going to hit a roadblock in our lack of physical presence. We need to do some research and identify the targets of memetic attack: popular local blogs/hangouts/publications/etc.; from there we need to identify the culture specific to each of those venues and design compatible memes.

This could be fun for no reason besides the sociology.
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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2008, 07:22:23 pm »
I agree. Normally I'd be hesitant to participate in the political engine in the hopes of actually achieving someone else's political ends, but if we view Penn as a laboratory, it sounds like quite a fun experiment.


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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2008, 07:58:29 pm »
I live over a thousand miles away myself and I can't go there, so I might as well live on the Moon as far as that goes. But we should be able to target individuals on the ground there either as infectees or allies, so that distance shouldn't matter so much.

as i said, i'll see how i can help out. if only with ideas and helping to think.

Quote
I see your point about measuring success, and we should think about that. But any meme warfare that's effective will probably result in leakage to the mainstream media -- in fact compromising that media somehow will probably be an invaluable method of spreading any meme to begin with.

i agree. so if compromising media is an invaluable first (or intermediate) step, we can at least use that as some sort of milestone for measuring success. because TBH, if we manage that, it can already be deemed a partial success (even if any actual effect on voters remains unclear).
once we get that, i suppose on the road we'll have figured out new milestones to determine success in any further phases of the plan.

btw just a random sidethought (oh, don't you just love how on this wonderful board you don't need to make a new thread every time you get a tangential thought? :-P)
this GASM is about promoting Obama in some way, but i've noticed that, as discordians, we are more used to sowing discord, memes that sort of spread confusion, creating two battle fronts that go against eachother, not necessarily promoting one thing or another, but just discord and confusion, appear to be more our modus operandi. just an observation. it's of course not necessarily a general rule, but the effect of such an approach is to simply draw attention to a certain topic, without really pushing it one way or another.
for example, we seem to do the same thing on TCC, where we have both discordian and anti-discordian trolls.
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tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2008, 08:48:58 pm »
You're right about the Discord thing. But general discord is just the easiest goal to achieve, not the only one that can be achieved, imho.

Of course, if we're carrying out this experiment as the Discordian Society, it stands to reason our means will lie almost exclusively within the realm of sowing discord, which is great. I just think that the Smart Meme will be able to target the areas where discord ought to be sown -- not so much an "endorsement" of Obama or an "attack" on Clinton, but as a way to bring attention to the fallacies of rhetorical speech and political spin and things like that.

Back on the topic of physical presence, I don't see why that matters. Even in your immediate vicinity, how many of the big names that effect you locally are actually real people to you? In my own town which is pretty small, the mayor might as well live in another country. It is the appearance of locality that matters, moreso than actually being locally present. There are 60,000 people in a 10-mile radius of me who mean exactly jack shit to me. The few people around here who do "matter" are no more than names in the newspaper or local radio anyway. It sounds cynical, but the isolation of the digital age actually assists us in this respect.

<brainstorm>

traditional methods of political discourse are going to be saturated and people will be in full-tilt 'filter my information' mode, although they will also be more acutely aware of buzzwords. we can use this fact to our advantage by focusing memes not on candidates or overt political agendas but by attacking the idea-base of ideas that are central to the campaign, in a way that seems unrelated or only tangentially related to the campaigns themselves.

for example, an operation to undermine the validity of experience in any endeavor, but specifically not mentioning politics: Study: Sexual Abuse Rates Climb with Clergy Experience.

also, turn Clinton's lines of attack into laughing stock by highlighting the absurd nature of extreme forms of these lines of attack. for example, Clinton loves to say Obama's healthcare plan leaves out 15 million americans, so apply her logic to something obviously false: County Schoolboard Denies Diplomas to Over 5,000 High School Dropouts

etc.
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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2008, 09:38:12 pm »
There's a lot good thoughts here already. But five weeks is a very short time, so the brainstorming has to be intense and the results must be put into action very soon.

One thought that strikes me as nearly obvious these days is to use YouTube as a medium. It seems the best way to get something famous quickly in the last year or two is to post it to YouTube. Almost any meme can be packaged in a video, with some planning.

As for the actual goals of this whole thing, I think we might have two parallel goals getting intertwined here. One is to boost Obama in Penn. The other is to capitalize on the memetic chaos of the next weeks in order to insert our own smart meme into the mix. Getting Obama a victory would be cool, but I think it might be too constrictive to try and hit both birds with one stone, and the latter goal is definitely required for the former.
In other words, how about focussing on just getting any smart meme into Pennsylvania over the next weeks, not necessarily one intended to interact with the campaigns?

(I'm also on the other side of the pond, but like 000 said, I'll do what I can.)
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tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2008, 09:56:30 pm »
So an operation that can be put into action very quickly whose results can be measured, to see if the approach has a chance of leading to something greater. The first idea that comes to mind is similar to ColbertGASM -- come up with a good letter, everyone send the same letter to a different small, local newspaper in PA, probably in the rural counties. It happens that small newspapers tend to band together in county or regional associations and exchange information regularly. Many copies of the same mysterious letter showing up, sent from different places, is likely to generate buzz within these organizations.
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tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2008, 10:35:05 pm »
like this, maybe
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Re: Upopular Idea #5: OBAMAGASM
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2008, 10:59:32 pm »
Good start!

http://www.usnpl.com/panews.php - there are some Penn newspapers.

So to conjecture:
1. Generate buzz inside "high profile" hives concerning this mysterious organization, thereby priming them to disseminate other messages
2. Release messages from this mystery organization which are a bit more explicit
3. Measure response by observing reporting on and reactions to these messages

?