Archive | April, 2011

Open for Business

18 Apr

If anything about the media is certain it’s that change will keep occurring and recurring and occurring all over again. We can see this is the way government is changing as new media allows society a greater sense of transparency and a greater sense of input. New Media Director Macon Phillips at the White House backs the Obama governments decision to move towards an open source government. He talks about government 2.0 and how people “recognise something larger than themselves, and want to develop tools”, he finds it “exciting”, liking it to being on the campaign trail. He sees that web 2.0 creates “opportunities” for the “division of labor” that can allow people maybe to “take data and reinterpret it”, but also he recognizes the need for “more traffic”, this traffic is becoming increasingly heard and increasingly relevant to the White House and with help make a “greater relationship with the public and the people in the building.” New media then in relation to governments and top down government structures means there is more opportunity for input.

In Paul Mason’s article on Tea Parties and the riots the last year alone has seen he sees as a result of the younger generations exposure to new media. Mason notes that it gives a sometimes isolated part of culture a way to express themselves. In new media truth moves faster, ideologies can be easily rejected, women are right at its heart with men, vertical hierarchies find it hard to function and a greater sense of community and understanding results. Mason sees new media on a governmental level as distributing power and as Phillips put it “the division of labor”, meaning that all this media younger generations have access to and input into actually teaches them about the world. Enabling them maybe to start their own careers in politics and governance. This new media then acts a learning ground, like a University, for today’s emerging generations.

Jonathan Rauch notes in his article on the Tea Party, that this movement in the States and worldwide is acting as a “collective brain” (Rauch, 2010). Enabling large-scale radical decentralization. Done through crowd-sourcing, this open-source movement is a network that is “bottom up driven” (Rauch, 2010) and an open system. This functions differently than top-down, vertical government as it is without a leader or headquarters, it is self funding and many will work for free. It is about knowledge and power through distribution in the system, over the lording of “foolish or self-serving bosses” that can “wreck it” (Rauch, 2010). It cannot be wrecked as it has no boss. One ‘tea partier’ stated that like a starfish you “cut off an arm, and it grows into a new starfish”, this open source governances strength then lies in the fact new media has enabled it to be very mobile and very easy to connect with others in the community. Without the technology this open-source movement would have trouble existing, as it exists on these online networks, it exists through online collaboration and contribution.

Catherine Styles sees government 2.0 as the “future for greater transparency and collaboration” (Styles, 2009). She sees it as existing to improve government service and policy. Collaborators do the improving and their input can feed up to things as prices of food to climate change targets or immigration policies. Styles calls this “citizen governance” (Styles, 2009), which acts to keep accountable the way government functions. It describes it, it keeps and maintains it, it develops it, it hosts it. Overall though the goal of all this new governance and open-sourcing is to led to a transparency that ultimately “shapes our environments, cultures and experiences” (Styles, 2010). Unfortunately all this information also can be used in a negative way, not all members ultimately will have the best intentions, but as with media we can only look ahead and work towards a better, more stable future.

A great example of this kind of governance impacting mass industry can be seen in Tom’s Shoes. They notably in 2006 started a movement where they gave a pair of shoes to a child in need, for every pair of ecologically friendly shoes you buy. This gives the public something tangiable that we can actually do for one another which is what open-sourcing is all about.


Mason, Paul (2011) ‘Twenty reasons why it’s kicking off everywhere’, Idle Scrawls BBC, <>

Rauch, Jonathan (2010) ‘Group Think: Inside the Tea Party’s Collective Brain’, Articles by Jonathan Rauch <>

Styles, Catherine (2009) ‘A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible’ <>