Radical Transparency

Mr Universe Knows!

I just read an email from our union lamenting the lack of control when it comes to presenting our contract information to us.  In the 36 hours OSSTF took to put together a two page comparison of our deal with the one the Catholic teachers had land on them, details leaked to the press and were already flowing around social media before that.

When we finally got ‘official’ information it was formatted entirely in comparison to the OECTA deal – we don’t get to see actual details, we get a selection of facts designed to look better than the pile of manure OECTA provincial executive signed off on for their members (none of whom have ratified it) last summer.  I’m having trouble seeing the democracy through the political machinations.

Watching the government, the forth estate and our union trying to manipulate the flood of information in an increasingly flat mediascape is rather tragic to watch.  These lumbering dinosaurs try to breach holes or spin facts, only be swamped by crowd-sourced social media.  They want to harness the crowd for their own ends only to find their carefully laid plans designed to manipulate results thrown into the weeds.

We might have evolved into Web2.0, but it is also causing a more democratic means of understanding the world and ushering in a Democracy2.0 wherein people have access to more information sources and are no longer held captive by traditional organizations and the big media that served them.  The Arab Spring, OccupyAnonymous and many other social movements are happening because governments and corporations don’t own the signal any more.  Anyone with an internet connection can publish to the world, find information and create community with like minded people.

How is a political organization to survive in a time where they can’t control their own message?  Perhaps by putting out a message that doesn’t need controlling in order to be accepted.  This would mean un-spinning and de-lawyerizing your organization and simply being direct and consistent with what you stand for.  Being accessible and open about communicating wouldn’t hurt either – if you’re working behind closed doors, you’re not getting the point..

Your political party shouldn’t be trying to win elections, it should have a clear vision of what it stands for and then never waiver from that goal in word and deed.  If you’re consistent, radical transparency and the flattening mediascape doesn’t frighten you, it empowers you.  If you’re a shifty, manipulative organization that is used to getting its own way by having direct access to big media, your days are numbered.

Radical transparency means you don’t have to stand up and read a script, you don’t have to wonder how the numbers will play out on a new policy, and you never have to come back to an interview and say, wow, we really screwed that up.  You don’t have spin doctors telling you what to think about issues, you know your beliefs and you act on them.

As insane as I think Tim Hudak’s tea party Conservatives are, at least they are consistent in their insanity.  The NDP are also consistent in their left winged-ness.  The Liberal party (whom I used to vote for and was considering membership in after I became a Canadian citizen) are something unique to Canada, but in trying to be centrist they have ended up being worse than the right wing bullies; a manipulative party that only stands for being in power, consistency be damned.

I’m having trouble being unionist at a time when my union seems to be playing the same kind of Liberal game, of speaking out of both sides of their faces.  One moment the offered contract is a disaster and we’re ordered to go on work action; the union is overjoyed at the crowd sourced support they are seeing online and myself and others are more than happy to vocally convey the unfairness of the situation.  In the next we are suddenly accepting a similar contract.  Communication has stopped and online voices have turned from supportive to hurt and confused.

I’m a creature of this flattened mediascape.  I cannot understand or condone the backroom politics or spin.  I don’t want to be manipulated, I don’t want to be treated like an idiot who can’t know details, I want the facts, and if I’m not given them, they are easily enough found online.