Monday, October 25, 2010

Gov 2.0 will simply amplify Australia's political lethagy

Last night I was unsurprised yet very annoyed at the status so far of the official political debate about Australia's combat operations in Afghanistan.

This morning, Eve woke at 530am as usual, wanting to play with toys in the lounge room. Eventually she found the TV remote, and on came the crud that is Australian morning television. People in the US dressing their pets in Halloween costumes, record numbers at the Zombie Walk, massive shark suspected in the North, Australian and Singaporean stock exchange to merge (WTF?), Beach Boys lip syncing, and sport sport and more sport.. and a bit of weather from tourist locations.

Sigh. So I turned on the radio and muted the television. Triple J (a public radio station that used to be half decent) doing shit talk back on the "craziest question you've ever been asked in a job interview".

Last night I tweeted a criticism/half question of the Gov 2.0 lobby in Australia, pointing out the comparatively zero coverage by the stream on the 2 weeks of parliament and senate debate on Afghanistan.

Self proclaimed online evangelist CraigThomler (@craigthomler) was the only person watching the gov2au stream (or interested to reply), and replied by the morning with:
@ isn't about specific issues, it's about transforming governance systems to models suitable for the 21st century.
To which my reply (considering the 530am start to Australian TV and Radio) was pretty prickly:
@ yeah right, how about a few examples. is a technofad echo chamber
And so began a short lived exchange of why and why not. Twitter is useless for debate.

Looking back on Craig's own tweets on #gov2au, he thought the TEDxCanberra photostream was related somehow, and in the end he dismissed my remarks to the #gov2au stream as "adding little value".

I personally think #gov2au needs to cover much more than open data, censored Internet, public broadband and otherwise blind lobby for more government bordering on global. If Australian politicians are going to debate whether military personnel should be helping to kill off people in Afghanistan (the first time they've ever debated the idea), but with a foregone conclusion of smelly bipartisanship and avoidance of the question on whether 911 was good reason to invade in the first place, and mainstream media is going to largely black out non party line input on the issue, then I think this becomes a prime candidate for testing ideas of #gov2au! The debate doesn't even have a hashtag as for as I can tell!

While the dispersed chatter about the war goes on through social media, as it does on carbon taxes, emissions trading, global warming and climate change, not to mention a raft of other important and poorly represented issues, none of it is feeding through to the political, economic and cultural class, despite it often revealing many an insightful remark and eye popping evidence. Gov2au ideals of engaged and participatory citizenship and political representation is not looking very likely at all. More likely is it will remain a clique of technofans, existing in a in a bubble of do-good, averse to any real issue of controversy, life and death, leaving the technology to simply amplify the real underlying problems in our society.


Steven said...

To me Gov 2.0 is a non sensical word a spin doctor's buzz word hanging of the 'everybody has a voice illusions' of the Web 2.0 Phenomenon of recent past.


This is a much better word for describing 'Gov 2.0' and what it is about.

Other than that your post is a great representation of the innanity of the information rehashed, regurgitated, and spewed into people's minds sp they don't have any quiet space to think.

Craig Thomler said...

Hi Leigh,

You can find a definition of Gov 2.0 at the Gov 2.0 Australia group:

It states:

"Government 2.0 is not specifically about social networking or technology based approaches to anything. It represents a fundamental shift in the implementation of government - toward an open, collaborative, cooperative arrangement where there is (wherever possible) open consultation, open data, shared knowledge, mutual acknowledgment of expertise, mutual respect for shared values and an understanding of how to agree to disagree. Technology and social tools are an important part of this change but are essentially an enabler in this process."

In other words, Gov 2.0 is about a attitudinal change in how governments operate enabled by technology. It is not about specific issues.

This doesn't diminish the need to have a robust discussion about Afghanistan (which has been occurring in parliament).

However it does suggest there are far more appropriates places for you to have a political debate about Australia's involvement in Afghanistan than under the Gov2au hashtag.

You could try Ausvotes and Auspol for starters.



Leigh Blackall said...

Thanks Craig. Eventually, open government, or some other new generation of government practice will be issue focused right? I would have thought that when would be now. I started looking around for commentary on the Afghanistan debate, noticed very little, no hashtag, and that got me asking why the gov2au crowd hasn't taken it on. We've seen censorship, copyright, government, come into the gov2au tag.. but not war. I didn't expect the gov2au tag to be used for the debate, but I did expect followers of the stream to see the opportunity. To my amazement, your response!

Leigh Blackall said...

Hi Steven, yeah - like Web2.0, a non sensical buzz word, to anyone outside computing and software engineering, thereby missing the wider social relevance and implications, excluding it to a certain class of people many should call technofans. I'm a technofan, but at least self conscious enough to recognise the problems of our clique.