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Towards an Expressive Rationality in Online Participation

The next speaker at EDEM 2010 is Jakob Svensson from Karlstad University, who notes that the Net is considered to be the new arena for digital citizenship, of course - citizenship is membership in a political community which confers particular rights and duties; but what does the political consist of? What should be considered to be political?

The political, Jakob suggests, concerns the organisation and structure of society, and power relations within it; it is discursive and relational. This also relates to questions of what we mean by community - and community is now more often a community of interest than a geographically or otherwise determined community. Overall, then, a political community is an ensemble of people who are concerned witb the organisation of society and make sense of these concerns in a similar way. When such political communities address these concerns, they engage in active citizenship.

g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms' Length from Government

My own presentation (of a paper co-authored with my colleague Adam Swift) was up next at EDEM 2010, and I've already posted up the slides and full paper - audio to follow some time soon, hopefully! now added as well. Bit rushed, but I hope it made sense...

Beware the Goverati: e-Democracy Processes in the Post-Industrial Age

The second keynote speaker at EDEM 2010 is Ismail Peña-López, who begins from an economic perspective: he notes that in the orthodox view, the basic structure of the production system is that inputs (resources) are acted upon by labour and capital in the production process, generating outputs (products). Democratic processes are traditionally based and built upon this production process, too - scarcity of resources, transaction costs, and processes of intermediation are its fundamental delimiting elements,which democracy attempts to coordinate.

Towards Real Citizen Participation in e-Democracy

I've now arrived at the 2010 Conference on e-Democracy (EDEM 2010) in Krems, Austria. I'll present my paper on the g4c2c concept with Adam Swift later this afternoon, but we start today with a keynote by Andy Williamson. He begins by pointing to the relative youth of e-democracy projects, and says that there's a lot to learn from the interesting failures of many such projects to date. Indeed, there's a problem with the academic language of many of these projects (democracy is a disputable enough term as it is - sticking 'e' in front only makes it worse).

More Travel Coming Up: EDEM 2010

In a few days' time, I'll head off to Europe again, to present at this year's Conference on e-Democracy (EDEM 2010). I really enjoyed the 2009 edition (see the coverage in this blog), and it's hard to believe a whole year has passed already - probably because it hasn't: EDEM 2009 was held in September...

Still, that's not stopped us from developing some new ideas on how to further the 'government 2.0' push which aims to utilise Web 2.0 technologies, social media models, and produsage processes in order to create better engagement and participation between governments and citizens. This year, I'm building on my observations with Jason Wilson about top-down and bottom-up forms of engagement, presented at EDEM 2009, to suggest (in a paper co-authored with Adam Swift) that neither the common government-to-citizen (g2c) nor citizen-to-citizen (c2c) initiatives in the government 2.0 space quite manage to find the right balance, and that we may need to explore the possibility for new, hybrid models in between these poles: we outline what we've called a g4c2c model in which government provides explicit support for, and gets involved in, citizen-to-citizen activities.

g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms' Length from Government (EDEM 2010)

EDEM 2010

g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms' Length from Government

Axel Bruns and Adam Swift

  • 6 May 2010 - 2010 Conference on Electronic Democracy, Krems, Austria

The recognition that Web 2.0 applications and social media sites will strengthen and improve interaction between governments and citizens has resulted in a global push into new e-democracy or Government 2.0 spaces. These typically follow government-to-citizen (g2c) or citizen-to-citizen (c2c) models, but both these approaches are problematic: g2c is often concerned more with service delivery to citizens as clients, or exists to make a show of 'listening to the public' rather than to genuinely source citizen ideas for government policy, while c2c often takes place without direct government participation and therefore cannot ensure that the outcomes of citizen deliberations are accepted into the government policy-making process. Building on recent examples of Australian Government 2.0 initiatives, we suggest a new approach based on government support for citizen-to-citizen engagement, or g4c2c, as a workable compromise, and suggest that public service broadcasters should play a key role in facilitating this model of citizen engagement.

Fighting the Cleanfeed Filter with Evidence of Its Futility

For a goverment which on its election made so much noise about making 'evidence-based' policy decisions (as opposed to the naked ideology of the previous mob, particularly in its declining years), Senator Conroy's decision to impose his 'cleanfeed' filter on the Australian Internet is a deeply disturbing sign. There's much that must - and will - be said about this pointless, futile, and undemocratic filter over the coming weeks and months, no doubt, and Catharine Lumby's piece in The Punch and Google Australia's statement today are a very good start.

Rather than adding my own expression of dismay and outrage at the sheer stupidity which Senator Conroy's decision represents, though, I'll simply point to the work of my colleagues in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. Authored by three of Australia's most eminent media and communication researchers, here's some actual evidence which provides a much better basis for policy-making than whatever misconceptions and flawed assumptions have led the Australian government to believe that Internet censorship should be a policy priority in a country whose communications policies have suffered more than a decade of complete neglect and incompetence under the previous government.

Please tweet, embed, bookmark, link, and otherwise share this document (available at Scribd) widely.

Two New Book Chapters on Produtzung

I haven't yet had a chance to note my latest two book chapters on produsage here - both in German, and following on from conferences in Germany which I spoke at in 2008 and 2009:

Prosumer Revisited

The reader Prosumer Revisited, from the Prosumer Revisited conference which I attended earlier this year, contains my chapter "Vom Prosumenten zum Produtzer", which argues that the 'prosumer' is no longer a useful term to describe the changes in participation and content creation which are occurring today, and provides a concise overview of produsage, or Produtzung, as an alternative. Probably a little more clearly than I did in my conference presentation itself!

Political Discourse from Truth to Truthiness

The final keynote of AoIR 2009 is by Megan Boler, editor of Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times. She begins by noting the shared sense of aporia at the conference. What do we do as we face the rapidly changing environments of social media - do we feel let down by the Internet, do we daily have to renegotiate the changing visage of the Internet? Megan is particularly interested in exploring this in the context of war, and especially the war on terror - so much especially of the material produced from critical perspectives is dismissed as noise here, so how do we make what we feel is important audible and visible? (To illustrate this, Megan shows a video compiling the repetitive use of certain keywords - September 11, Saddam Hussein, war on terror, terrorism - by US leaders.)

Governmentality, Digital Media, and Baseball

OK, I'm in the next session at AoIR 2009, and Michael Blanchard makes a start by introducing Foucault's idea of governmentality. He believes that Deleuze's statement that we now live in societies of control is problematic - the societies of discipline that Foucault has introduced have been replaced with societies of control, but there was never an idea that there was a clear succession from sovereignty to discipline to control; these three were always a triangle.

Digital media amplify disciplinary power; the use of digital media carves out the individual as a more identifiable reality, as is evident when we consider the use of databases. Governmentality, by contrast, pertains to a mode of power that produces populations, the body which it works over is more virtual. There is still a political anatomy of detail (which is what discipline is described as), but governing produces from this a very different body with a more virtual presence.


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