The Fate of the State (and other older institutions and practices)

An undeniable part of the human psyche is that we don’t like secrets. We don’t like not knowing what could be known, and therefore desire transparency in every part of life. However does knowing the truth about anything and everything necessarily lead to the greatest form of society?

New media has changed the framework for how and what data the public receives. Social networking websites have created a degree of transparency with major institutions, such as the government. Politicians are now using social networking sites to develop a character for the public to personally connect with, and in the modern era, many government proceedings revolve around public opinion as a result of social media. Yes, the Prime Minister of Australia does have his own Twitter account. And yes, he did use this to develop a personal relationship with the public during his election campaign. New media is making information far simpler to access and distribute, changing the game for major institutions.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 5.56.59 PM

(Twitter.com, 2014)

Catherine Styles explores the concept of making the government visible to the public and including the public in decision-making. Similar to the Finnish online, crowd-sourced law proposals for the government discussed by Hill (2012), Styles believes the public should have more of a say in what occurs in their country. She discusses the idea of a Government 2.0, with the aim for the government to have greater transparency (Styles, 2009), believing many areas of government policy would be improved by citizen collaboration.

Lawrence Lessig also investigates the notion of transparency of government, suggesting that this movement for transparency will combine the power of new media and government data to provide the public with increased access and an easy understanding of information (2010). Lessig however suggests that this transparency could lead to chaos, believing certain audiences would not cope with such information and could result in unnecessary outbreaks and disruptions, making it more difficult for the government to handle certain situations. With increased access to information, the public wants more power and therefore could lead to more harm than good.

So maybe it is necessary for some things to remain behind closed doors.

 

References:

Hill, David J. (2012) ‘Finland’s Next Laws To Come From Online Proposals By Citizens’, Singularity Hub, October 11, <http://singularityhub.com/2012/10/24/finlands-next-laws-to-emerge-from-online-crowdsourced-proposals/>

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/>

Twitter.com (2014). “Tony Abbott (TonyAbbottMHR)”, Twitter <https://twitter.com/TonyAbbottMHR [Accessed 28 Apr. 2014]>

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