Social “media” and DG: Working with Bangkok RSC


Our RCS in Bangkok has commissioned a paper on Social Media and Democratic Space. The latest version on the paper is here: Bangkok-Social-media-democratic-space-AK-additions).

Skipping any discussion on the notion of “Democratic Space” (which I personally see as a variation on the good old concept of public sphere), the paper has a heavy focus on the “media” side of affairs. As a result, do not expect to find any references to stuff such as e-participation or e-governance for that matter. And in mu view, the paper is weak on the inclusive participation angle.

Merging new media with traditional media (the issue here is which way are we going) and placing emphasis in the latter  makes the first few sections of the paper read just a traditional “media” paper with emphasis on journalists and media ownership issues.  This is fine if we were then to add a section of the specificities on what is now called “new media”. I have no  doubt that there is a converging process going on but at witnessed by  proposed policies such as ACTA/ SOPA/PIPA, etc. there is hardly any agreement as to how to move ahead on this  -as new”media” players such as Google, Facebook, etc are not really traditional media companies, etc.

Anyways, I has a call with our colleges in Bangkok (after my dinner time here in NY) and discussed some of these issues as well as explored ways in which we could collaborate. I mentioned the following issues:

1. We are more than happy to work closely with the RC. Let us plan accordingly

2. We are currently revising our old paper on “Mirage vs. reality: participation in the era of social networks and mobile technologies”

3. We should try to connect the two products in ways that denote some sort of policy coherence within BDP but of course being mindful of regional and income-level (LDCs, etc) specificities.

As for comments on the current version of the paper, here are some of the one  I mentioned yesterday in Tweet form

1. Relation of Democratic space tot he old concept of the public sphere

2. Distinction between social media and social networks

3. Focus primarily on inclusive participation not just on media

4. Link to accountability and transparency

5. Note potential clash between the new “media” and traditional media owned by corporations and rich families

6. Global vs local: need to dimension this form a governance perspective. “Democratic space” is primary local or national

7. Link to open government concept and ongoing partnership

8. Include mobiles more prominently. If anything moving from media to a more inclusive participation approach will facilitate this

9. Link to social innovation and youth (bearing in mind that it is the local youth that is driving social innovation, not silicon valley or traditional media)

Cheers, Raúl

PS: I also shared the draft concept note on new media and DG ( And as an afterthought, I will add to the above points the need to differentiate between media and communication.


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