I have just added quite a long postscript to GetUp's mistletoe role. I don't have time for a full post today, but I did want to foreshadow a post.
Recent posts have been very Australian and have focused on political and policy processes in this country. As part of this, I was concerned about the role that GetUp played.
GetUp's role centres on the application of the internet as an organising device. However, there is another issue here that adds to the complications faced by Governments at all levels in developing effective policy.
At the top or headline level, Governments respond to the media and to special interest groups. This is public and clear. But just a little way down is another stream whose effects are less obvious.
Take the debate over the export of live cattle to Indonesia as an example. At the top level, we have Government, the media and the campaigners such as GetUp. Then, just below, we have the bloggers and commenters who use blog posts, but combine this with Twitter.
Here following the various threads, I was surprised at just how fast the issues were analysed. The Government's position effectively dissolved in real time before my eyes. The lower stream drew from the public stream, but followed a different course. Now, as with my writing, it feeds back.
The people who write and comment reflect different positions. To illustrate what I mean, look at this post and comments on the left of centre blog Larvatus Prodeo. You don't have to agree with the comments, but you quickly get a feel for some of the issues.
Now the thing that I find interesting and want to explore in more detail is the nature of the interactions.
To illustrate what I mean, consider Jim Belshaw and Paul Barratt.
Paul and I have known each other since childhood. Both of us have had senior public service experience at Commonwealth level, although Paul's career was far more stellar than mine. We share some common views, but also have major differences; Paul is far more left than I. He also uses different media, with a much greater focus now on Twitter. Despite these differences, we have a common concern with the effectiveness of public policy and administration. Further, we can both lay claim to a degree of expertise.
Now within hours of the Government's decision on live cattle exports to you had tweets and posts. I posted, Paul tweeted. Those tweets were picked up. A view emerged.
Now my point in all this, and the one I want to explore in a later post, is not that people agree or disagree in an overall sense, but that commonalities on particular issues can emerge quite quickly among people who are reasonably well informed.
This is a new world. On Club Troppo, Nick Gruen has often written of web 2.0. This is web 2.0 at work.
In the past, Government announced a view that was then addressed by the main stream media. Governments respond to the top view. They tailor and attempt to manage, using a variety of techniques including focus groups to develop their approach.
But what does Government do when people with expertise outside the system apply that expertise to the analysis of Government responses? What does Government do when the combination of blog posts and tweets can quickly reach a largish audience?
A Jim Belshaw or a Paul Barratt or a Nick Gruen doesn't matter in the broad scheme of things. Our individual audiences, our particular expertise, is neither here nor there. It's the combination that counts.
I am probably going to be off-line for the next few days. I will return to this issue once I am back.