After many years abroad, I have just moved back to my hometown Torino, known for car-design, the Winter Olympic Games, and for safeguarding the self-portrait of the Leonardo da Vinci. But it's also the town of the little known engineer Leonardo Chiariglione, who invented the revolutionary standard MP3 in the framework of a not for profit project, and of Nexa, Center for Internet & Society, where the other day I witnessed a meeting to prepare an action against a draft European directive for a copyright extension.
Copyright was recognized by law 300 years ago. It enabled valuable authors to make a living on their work. Therefore it was fundamental to boost the artistic creation and the freedom of expression, because finally creators could avoid to waste most of their time to please sponsors. After a given (reasonable) period,
Debate about how the current information-abundant communication environment is impacting global politics has long entered the circles of communication practitioners and academics. However, findings remain mixed.
Internews Network and Internews Europe recently released a report entitled “The Promise of Ubiquity: Mobile as Media Platform in the Global South.” According to the release, the report was commissioned “to help the media to understand the exciting potential, the incredible challenges and the perils of refusing to change.” It’s an impressive volume, packed with multi-country stats and trends, future visions, and case studies from the Global South. These cases include use of text messaging (SMS) for a news service in Sri Lanka, election monitoring in Nigeria, crop price distribution in Indonesia, and expert health consultations for the Philippine diaspora in the Gulf region. An interesting discussion on the report here.
The global economic crisis is producing, amongst others, a divide between experts/technocrats and public opinion. This is a bill of several particulars. First, the question of language. The crisis and the possible policy responses are being discussed in a technical language so abstruse that if you don't have an MBA in finance or a PhD in Economics you are lost. It appears we have a coterie of insiders...and everybody else. This is not good, as I will soon explain.
Second, there is the question of scepticism. Public opinion is skeptical about what the experts really know about what is going on. Are these not the same experts running the global financial system and who drove it off a cliff? And why can they not agree on anything? For every expert who says countries must throw trillions at the problem is another who says do nothing, just tough it out. What are non-specialists to make of this cacophony?
A reader's response to the blog post Media Strengthening: Taking Politics Seriously - 2:
"We've come across such problems helping the government of Trinidad and Tobago build concensus for sweeping reform of public services. Under the auspices of their ministry for public administration, we've their support to build an online forum as a first step in establishing public servant-led dialogue, that we hope can grow across government then into the world of consumers.
Starting online, it will need to attract more than the 25% of citizens now online, but it is a start. Once we get it going, the challenge will be (1) to get the administration to discuss HR issues (in particular) even if they have not formulated a position beforehand. Then (2) to ensure that forum comments and questions are responded to swiftly, so that the cynical workforce does not give up on dialogue.
The School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, supported by CommGAP, recently organized a roundtable on The Contribution of Government Communication Capacity to Achieving Good Governance Outcomes. Participants included representatives from governments, international NGOs, academic institutions, and World Bank colleagues who specialize in public sector governance and development communication. Discussions revolved around the ways in which the topic of government communication might be approached and how good practices might be shared globally.
Are newspapers dead or dying? The growing chorus in the West seems to be: yes, newspapers are dead or dying. The internet is going to win and we all face a future where all the news that is fit to note will be on-line. Whatever happens in the West, reports suggest that in Asia at least newspapers are doing very well indeed. According to a recent report in TIME Magazine, for instance, as Asian societies become more open newspapers are sprouting all over the place and finding millions of readers.
Asia's media expansion has mirrored the fall of its dictators, as newspaper readers thrill at no longer getting just the day's propaganda. In Indonesia, the number of newspapers has increased from a few dozen when strongman Suharto was deposed in 1998 to roughly 800 today. The market is so buoyant that a new English-language paper, the Jakarta Globe, revved up its printing presses last November, just as several cash-strapped American papers were readying their final editions. "The Indonesian middle class is growing, and many households subscribe to two newspapers," says Ali Basyah Suryo, strategic adviser to the start-up Globe. "People like to hold the newspaper in their hands and even clip stories or save copies. It's seen as a valuable product."