Citizenship in the Age of Google



May 12, 2008

I don't write about podcasts I listen to unless they are particularly interesting, and One Nation Under Google certainly fills this need. Taped by CKUT and available through Rabble Podcast Network, Darren Barney's done an excellent job to challenge how we think about the politics and technology in our modern world. He reframes the definition of citizenship to be based on the practice of judgment, rather than a right of membership. This is particularly useful when we start discussing about global or wired citizens.

He does touch a bit on some of the new technologies which have been used to engage in political dialog. However, he's done a very good job of seeing beyond that to critique the larger context of information technology. Jodie Dean, "Nobody, today, should accept a motto for political life that would work just as well for Microsoft and AT&T. We are constantly told that more information an more communications is inherently a good thing for democracy. He in many ways brings out the larger challenges such like Jerry Mander.

Technology is power and in many ways also law, however this technology usually has not been an object for our political judgment. Because the huge impacts that technology has on our lives, it tis important that citizens are engaged in dialog about the technology that affects our lives. This very much reflects the many conversations I've had with Russell McOrmond about open source software and standards.

He does bring about some ideas on the challenge of building a culture of political engagement on technological issues in Canada's democratic sphere. His European examples are quite hopeful. The practical task is to make technology explicitly an object for political judgment. The Danish citizens through the board of technology have addressed, gene therepy, electronic surveillance, open source, technology work/life balance, nano-tech, alternative fuels, priorities in government funding of technology.

I also need to mention that's recently celebrated it's 7th anniversary. OpenConcept was pleased to be involved in launching that site and indeed shortly afterwards developing a online petition tool in response to the FTAA protests in Quebec City.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.