The Network Society and a whole new load of reading….

Busy weekend with lots of literature review as well as proposal writing for EU funded projects.  I have also been reading around ideas of co-creation as well the Network Society this weekend.  Both of these are going to be fairly central within my literature review.

The network or information society is a way of describing the intrinsically connected way in which society now functions in terms of data, processes and increasingly people.  These terms are being used in the same way as the agricultural and then industrial revolutions are discussed and is widely regarded as a paradigm shift in the way which society works.  What is less clear of course is what this shift way which is why Frank Webster’s book “Theories of the Information Society” is so interesting as it critiques a number of different interpretations of what the fact that once we are online we can reach so many people and ideas actually means.  I am focusing on two main thinkers in this area – both of which I will need to write more on:

  • Jurgen Habermas and his ideas of the existence and importance of the “Public Sphere” where social discourse should happen.
  • Manual Castells and his ideas around  the implications of our main exposure to politics being exposure the media

This is obviously vastly over-simplifying things but these two thoughts are both ones which I am now reading more about.

Co-creation is also a central tenant of the CitizenScape approach I am advocating as it describes the way in which I believe that the sites that support democratic discourse need to be truly co-created by all contributors – both government and citizens.  Co-creation can be approached in two ways;  firstly as a tool of citizen engagement of the kind discussed in the seminal Arnstein article or as mass collaboration described in the crowd sourcing crowd pleaser wikinomics.  I am attempting a kind of ‘meet in the middle’ argument with these two ideas as I make the case that mass collaboration techniques need to be applied to democratic discussion in order to ensure that citizens are properly engaged in democracy.

  1. Tom

    March 31, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Hi Catherine,

    It sounds like you are doing some great work. I’d be really interested to hear any further thoughts you have of mass collaboration and democracy.

    in the work we do we find often we have to provide parameters around debate to ensure something of value can be derived from ‘the conversation’. the tension is in calibrating these parameters so you don’t beg the question.

    would be good to discuss further


  2. curiouscatherine

    April 4, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Thanks Tom – that question of parameters is a really interesting one. One of the things I am currently thinking about is whether the loosening of those parameters actually provides a more effective conversation. Its part of making these conversations more throughly ‘co-created’ as value is so often defined by the hosts (usually government in my case) and not by all the participants. That being said some kind of management is needed – and I like your use of calibration here.

    Would also like to discuss more!


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