When the government is being overthrown by social networking websites, where are the futures of our political leaders going to end or are they going to have to reconstruct?
Australia, a common law, democratic governing country is not nearly as suppressive as other countries like that of Egypt. The revolution that is taking place over there is an absolute revolution in itself, that is of government control.
Because of blogging – the transversal relationship between newspapers and the Internet – a massive repercussion has occurred. The Egyptian population managed to cultivate and collectively form protest meetings, share ideologies and essentially kick-start the revolution that is now taking place. This in end (or beginning?) has given the world an insight into what was previously and currently taking place there. They have streamed live videos, posted photos and blogs all about the current government turmoil. Paul Mason explains that through media, “technology has expanded the space and power of the individual.” He makes reference to the blog of an Egyptian Leftist who writes “in dictatorship, independent journalism by default becomes a form of activism, and the spread of information is essentially an act of agitation.”
As it appears that media and social networking sites are becoming the new source of information, how do we know what is correct and has or has not been censored? Do we want to know it all? Lawrence Lessig discusses the potential risks associated with what he calls “the naked transparency” of revealing all truths in government. He argues that people don’t have the attention span to learn about everything they read and can thus be mislead. “The public is too smart to waste its time focusing on matters that are not important for it to understand.” Whilst Mason believes that “people know more than they used to,” and because of the unlimited access to information those of us in Australia have, governments are struggling to retain power.
Can we all govern? Catherine Styles explains that if we all want to govern or have input into how the government is run, we need exactly what Lessig fears, his idea of “the naked transparency.” Styles comments, “In order for people to answer the question ‘what do you want a say in?’ we need to be able to peruse the full set of government functions.” I am then inclined to ask what Lessig mentioned, will we? Will we actually peruse all government functions with the attention span that we as humans all possess?
Regardless of this fear of the unknown or known, the blogging sphere and social networking sites are paving way for you to govern, for me to govern, for all to govern; but again I restate, can we? If our current parliament is a representative of the people, then this questioned shouldn’t even be raised. People should feel that their lifestyle is a result of their choices, yet it seems they don’t. That’s probably why we are turning to blogging…
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.htm
Lessig, Lawrence (2010) ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government.’<http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,0>
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/>