Who’s got the power?
They say one vote can make a difference, but is one person, or one group able to influence government? And should they be able to?
Brafmen and Beckstrom (2010) give a number of examples of individuals who have ‘changed the world’ by going outside the boundaries of traditional leadership. One noteable example is Shawn Fanning, creator of Napster, who proved to have uncovered an idea that would deliver a crushing blow to the recording industry in terms of piracy and file sharing.
So can this power be used in the realm of politics?
Activists working online in Egypt created a number of protests and demonstrations which may result in the overthrowing of the current regime.
Or to use an example a little closer to home, the Tea Party Movement in America has co-ordinated a number of rallies each of which were organised virtually overnight by ameteurs.
But is this the exception or the norm?
Styles (2009), in her blog A Government 2.0 idea talks about the benefits of citizen collaboration in policy making. However, to what extent is an ‘architecture of participation’ feasible?
Another idea explored by Styles (2009) is transparency of government, in terms of making information surrounding government and its policies easily accessible, thus keeping it accountable and ‘honest’.
But to what extent does the government need to be transparent and to what degree is it already?
“More information”, as Fung (quoted in Lessig 2010) and his colleagues put it, “does not always produce markets that are more efficient.”
To use an example, Colonel Gaddafi appears to be very open and ‘transparent’ about his plans in Libya, and in my opinion (feel free to argue) this in no way benefits the population.
Again, this may be the exception and not the rule but it seems transparency of government and citizen participation in policy-making appear ideal, but ultimately, who’s got the power??
image from gettyimages.com
Brafman, O & Beckstrom R A 2010 ‘The Power of Leaderless Organisations: Craigslist, Wikipedia and Al Qaeda All Demonstrare how Absence of Structure Has Become an Asset’ http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/the-power-of-leaderless-organizations-20100911 viewed 20/4/11
Hirschkind, C 2011 ‘From the Blogosphere to the Street: the Role of Social Media in the Egyptian uprising’, http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/599/from-the-blogosphere-to-the-street_the-role-of-social-media-in-the-egyptian-uprising viewed 20/4/11
Lessig, L 2010 ‘Against Transparency: The Perils of Openness in Government’ http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,2 viewed 20/4/11
Styles, C 2009 ‘A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible’ http://catherinestyles.com/2009/06/28/a-government-2-0-idea/ viewed 20/4/11
Rauch, J 2010 ‘Group Think: Inside the Tea Party’s Collective Brain’ http://www.jonathanrauch.com/jrauch_articles/2010/09/group-think-inside-the-tea-partys-collective-brain.html viewed 20/4/11