Week 8 – Big Politics—The Fate of the State

Word: Organise

Lawrence Lessigs explores the concept of transparency of government. He explains the ‘transparency movement’ will combine the power of media/network technology and government data so the public will be able to easily process and understand it.

To get back to basics, transparency can be defined as something that can be seen, easily noticed or perceived. Something that has no obstacles or objects in its way.

Much of government proceedings and political outcomes derive from public opinion and more importantly social media. Technology is making information easier and easier to access, distribute and publish. Eg Wikileaks is a system designed to provide the public with all government information/documents.

New media has changed the framework of government organisation. Politicians personal lives have always been heavily publicised and scrutinized by the mainstream media. Social networking sites has brought transparency to a new level, with politicians using twitter allowing themselves to be looked at personally and not just professionally.

Lessig also points out that the increase in society wanting to be so thoroughly informed could turn into chaos. There are audiences that are not equipped with dealing with such information and might lead to unnecessary outbreaks/protests that disturb/interrupt the most efficient means of the govt dealing with a problem.

“”not all data satisfies the simple requirement that they be information that consumers can use, presented in a way they can use it.” (Lessig, 2009.)

Barak Obama who uses twitter has over 15 million followers and uses the media platform to address as many age groups as possible. He tweets about government proceedings, news, and sometimes personal things, like photos of his past or with his family. I think its a good example of government embracing and utilising new media, which has become so deeply embedded in all our lives.

The reading on Egypt’s uprising gave way to the concept of a ‘media event’. The world watched as Egypt overthrew the former president in which it was continuously broadcast live on tv. This brought to light social media’s role in the uprising.

Nikki Usher is basically saying that media events has stepped outside the traditional ‘framing’ or ‘framework’ of the past. Compared to monopolistic coverage, the media we have now is segmented. It is all media, online, mainstream and social.

This is especially relevant to my topic on Kony 2012 in which a ‘media event’ occurred. It is a new media ecology that interrelates all new media acting as a catalyst for instant information and reactions and the rapid speed of which it travels.

New media technologies have instigated the way in which the public feels they should have a higher level of access of information on the government. But the overall problem in which Lessig addresses, might cause data revealed to become overwhelming and therefore lead to more harm than good.

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

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/>


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