Week 8 – Big Politics

I thought I would try my hand at a mindmap. There are a few quotes from readings that apply to certain sections, follow the numbers…

I hope that if you can understand Andrew's mind maps, this one shouldn't be too much of a problem

1. The tricky part is knowing all the options (Styles 2009)

2. Horizontalism has become endemic because technology makes it easy: it kills vertical hierarchies spontaneously (Mason 2011)

3. The naked transparency movement marries the power of network technology to the radical decline in the cost of collecting, storing, and distributing data. Its aim is to liberate that data, especially government data, so as to enable the public to process it and understand it better, or at least differently. (Lessig 2010)

4. Fielding, Nick & Cobain, Ian (2011) ‘Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media’ The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks> [accessed April 18 2011]

5. This new relation between bloggers and other media forms has now become standard: not only do many of the opposition newspapers rely on bloggers for their stories; news stories that journalists can’t print themselves without facing state persecution (Hirschkind 2011)

6. But in many arenas, a lack of traditional leadership is giving rise to powerful groups that are turning industry and society upside down. (Brafman 2010)

7. Certain events depart from news events, and instead become ceremonial occurrences that are treated with reverence by broadcasters (Usher 2011)

Well, it has quite a lot going on, but isn’t that the truth? Everything seems connected to everything these days, drawing on and influencing everything else. I did find the idea of transparency particularly interesting, especially considering I had no idea the Australian government was adopting it as a policy (Tanner 2010). It reminds me of the moral debate that always arises at the beginning of disasters movies: do you tell everyone the world is about the end and incite mass panic? Or do you keep it a secret until the last possible moment? Obviously, this is an exaggeration and doesn’t strictly apply to today’s world but it is interesting to think about when it might be better to keep a secret. When is it truly a case of ‘what they don’t know won’t hurt them’, and who decides this? It would appear to be whoever has the information, and with the easy sharing offered by technology that’s often a lot of people, meaning keeping a secret is hard.

Personally, I am in favour of transparency – even if the news is bad, I would prefer to make an informed decision. However, I find that sometimes I have no idea whether my opinion is informed (hence the purple apathy/lack of awareness line) and this is where I think transparency plus social media, and how its ability to act as a personal filter, could have a huge impact. Lessig’s worries about the ambiguity of data (Lessig 2010) are, I believe, legitimate, but I still think it is better for the information to be there, so that someone with the motivation to sort through the data can come to an opinion and blog about it. And for someone else to disagree and post an opposing view. And for others to comment on both. It’s strange to think that the Internet, long thought of as a place where one can act anonymously, is engendering a move towards transparency. “People just know more than they used to” (Mason 2011) and they want to talk about what they know, and I think the really great thing is that (mostly) they also want to hear what other people have to say about it. Where this will take government I am not entirely sure, but I can’t help thinking about what might have happened in Iraq in 2003 had all the information be readily available to the public.


Brafman, Ori and Beckstrom, Rod A. (2010) ‘The Power Of Leaderless Organizations: Craigslist, Wikipedia And Al Qaeda All Demonstrate How Absence Of Structure Has Become An Asset’, National Journal <http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/the-power-of-leaderless-organizations-20100911> [accessed April 18 2011]

Hirschkind, Charles (2011) ‘From the Blogosphere to the Street: The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Uprising’,  Jadaliyya <http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/599/from-the-blogosphere-to-the-street_the-role-of-social-media-in-the-egyptian-uprising>  [accessed April 18 2011]

Lessig, Lawrence (2010) ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government.’<http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,0>  [accessed April 17 2011]

Mason, Paul (2011) ‘Twenty reasons why it’s kicking off everywhere’, Idle Scrawls BBC, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/2011/02/twenty_reasons_why_its_kicking.html>  [accessed April 18 2011]

Styles, Catherine (2009) ‘A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible’ <http://catherinestyles.com/2009/06/28/a-government-2-0-idea/>  [accessed April 18 2011]

Tanner, Lindsay (2010) ‘Declaration of open government’ Australian Government <http://agimo.govspace.gov.au/2010/07/16/declaration-of-open-government/> [accessed April 18 2011]

Usher, Nikki (2011), ‘How Egypt’s uprising is helping redefine the idea of a “media event”’, The Nieman Lab <http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/02/how-egypts-uprising-is-helping-redefine-the-idea-of-a-media-event/>  [accessed April 17 2011]


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