Big politics: The Fate of the State
This week, the role of ‘old’ and new media in governance is being discussed with regards to transparency and government 2.0.
The 60min film, Us Now (2009) presents a lot of insight into the concepts of transparency and Government 2.0. It reveals that collaboration and peer-to-peer sharing helps unbundle and reconstitute what a government is (Us Now, 2009). Perhaps even what a government does, much like the action taken after the Kony 2012 online campaign became viral. The ability to collaborate and share has allowed users to relive this ‘community spirit’, that was prominent years ago, which can now be experienced by interacting via online mediums (SNS, blogs, forums). Although there are still many trust issues against strangers online, trust and safety are integral for government 2.0 (Us Now, 2009). This social trust has been re-established through social media and has allowed for greater group action (Us Now, 2009). ‘Us’ as a part of Government 2.0 can be low cost and more efficient than an official government (Us Now, 2009). As Styles (2009) states, “…so many areas of government policy and service that might be improved by some citizen collaboration…”However, citizen governance will also be categorised into federal, state and local in which it actually limits the ability to improve certain services (Styles, 2009).
Although there is a lot of controversy surrounding Kony 2012, it is a great example of the collaboration of community. I feel it demonstrates the positive aspects of Government 2.0. The film has been viewed 70 million times, primarily on Facebook. Through the peer-to-peer sharing and commenting, the ‘community spirit’ of the younger generation has re-established greater group action on the Kony issue. It also reinforces the idea on “targeted transparency” which is a rule that signifies the data and presents it in a way that conveys meaningful data, similar to the presentation of the issue of Kony with the use of high quality videos (Lessig, 2010). As Lessig (2010) states, users are too smart and do not focus on issues that are insignificant. Due to the attention span problem, the high production valued film of Kony 2012 simplified the Kony issue with the high quality video, clear parth, messaging, driven deadline, credibility and user-friendly tools (Marquis & Walsh, 2012). Unfortunately, this style of film was under a lot of scrutiny. However, due to this viral ‘community spirit’, the US House of Representatives backed a resolution condemning Kony, support the citizen led campaign in the US and the military efforts in Afraid and pledging greater support (Curtis, 2012). As the Us Now film states, “…people can work together, asking a deeper question about government…” The example of Kony 2012 demonstrates one example of the big shift in group action that gives everyone the ability to choose whether they want to participate (Us Now, 2009). In this case, this self-organised system was able to provide motivation for greater group action against Kony.
Banyak Films, 2009, ‘Us Now’, < http://vimeo.com/4489849>
Curtis P, 2012, ‘Has Kony 2012 changed anything, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/reality-check-with-polly-curtis/2012/apr/16/has-kony-2012-changed-anything>
Lessig L, 2010, ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government’, <http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,0>
Marquis A, Walsh T, 2012, ’20 Reasons Why KONY 2012 is the the Most Viral Advocacy Video Ever, <http://www.thedigitalnaturalist.com/home/2012/3/20/20-reasons-why-kony-2012-is-the-most-viral-advocacy-video-ev.html>