During one of the plenary sessions at the “Parliament and the Interent Conference” a contributor from the floor said that “Information promiscuity” was a natural reaction to the unholy combination of the surveillance society and data incontinence (losses of personal and other data). That set me thinking.
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What is the electronic equivalent of an STD (sexually transmitted disease)?
Is it the socially transmitted dictatorship of the blogogracy (that new oligarchy drawn from the IT-literate members of the semi-hereditary political tribes that rule most societies)?
Or can the growth of social networks really bring about a democracy of the masses, akin to that which Chairman Mao laboured to create, in the teeth of opposition from most of his party, including the city-dwellers and intelligentsia who felt, like Stalin (and too many ICT suppliers), that the peasantry (alias users) should know their place and do as told.
I also liked the phrase: “Parliament will look at the issues in the context of a European Framework”
Was that a belated recognition that the real debate is taking place in Brussels? Are the recent comments by the DCMS Secretary of State to the Royal Television Society about a level playing field between television and the Internet merely a recognition that the UK is now implementing a directive (Audio-Visual Media Services) designed to protect broadcasters against change?
I listened to comments on why the state should not invest in Broadband, how we should take our time over debaes on spectrum and how the asymetrical business rates which helped destroy communications competition “were a complex issue”.
I wondered what we could learn from how China is seeking to build a truly socially inclusive information society, not just urban broadband but GSM masts spanning the Gobi desert, enabling peasant, worker and municipal co-operatives to trade nationally and even internationally. Is building on their success our route out of global economic stagnation?
One of the challenges posed at the conference was how to make a success of the global Internet Governance Forum by producing results before the 2010 deadline that was set in Tunis: including recommendations for “enhanced co-operation” – whatever that might mean.
So what might be the areas for “enhanced co-operation” be?
I left with three ideas buzzing round my heard.
1) Anglo-chinese co-operation (others may join but we should not wait for them) to not only bring low cost mobile access to the backwoods of Africa and Asia but also trusted financial services, to help villagers to trade their way out of global slump.
2) Reform of the domain name registry system to make it harder for criminal websites to migrate around the world ahead of attempts by law enforcement to catch up.
3) The UK to take a lead in bringing multi-national business together, working within existing legal frameworks, to organise the global co-operation that governments cannot.
We tend to forget that London is the world’s most multi-cultural city, where children from 50 or more races may live on the same housing estate and attend the same school. In most other supposedly multi-cultural cities, children grow up within their parents’ chosen ghetto.
Teaching others will help us to both learn how to handle our own problems better and repair the damage done over recent months and years to our global trading position. It needs to begin by learning how our children use the new technologies to organise their social lives across cultural boundaries without their parent’s knowledge as well as along the lines of their respective family, clan and caste diaspora with their grandparent’s approval.