In as far as I can work it out, the problem – in essence – with Netroots UK is that it’s too much about politics on the web, and not enough about the politics and consequences of the web.

What do I mean?

Essentially the speakers (even those on the ‘State of the left blogosphere 2011’ I’m currently attending) have not asked themselves essential questions about how the net is changing our politics, our organisations, our societies. The discussion is stuck one stage back – it’s how to use the web to intervene in problems (be they political or organisational) of the past, without having understood that the nature of our politics and organisations is undergoing a fundamental shift.

I have not heard any thinking so far along the lines of Shirky or Tapscott/Williams. A more thoughtful – dare I say it intellectual – strand to Netroots could help matters a lot.


  1. Och. Sweden is very anglo-saxon focused at large. Many Swedish people speak English, and well, but fewer speak other major languages like French or Spanish (most of Northern Africa is like a rench linguistic island, and Latin America similarly Spanish) which limits the news flow here considerably. The EU is (thankfully) helping that a bit since we get journalists aspiring for Brussels now 😛

    It feels as if a large part of the political problem just now is that most regulation made with regards to how people can act should be unmade, whereas the regulation of enterprises controlling the new communication space needs to be expanded but is not. :-/ On the other hand, that’s typical for every part of society and I hate sounding so left-wing about it.

  2. Dave Briggs

    Spot on! I mentioned in an earlier session than the general theme was of doing the wrong things righter.

    To be more charitable, people are asking ‘how does the internet help us to do what we already do better?’ rather than ‘how does the internet transform what we should be doing?’.

    A shame, but it’s early days.

  3. Oh, you don’t have to convince me of the value of that connectedness 🙂 I wish more people at this very UK-centred event would think that way and, if they do think beyond the UK, the folks here only tend to look at the USA.

  4. The interesting bit ought to be how political actions are globalised now? Even on a grassroot level. If you’re technically a citizen of Sweden, defending freedom of speech is Tunisia is very possible – and in fact done! But the alternative globalisation movement was also a quite globalized phenomenon with a very hands-on, offline approach that engaged thousands of people in different parts of while. They were more limited by geographical locations, but in each of those locations lots of people participated. Even in Tunisia, without the people protesting on the streets asserting their right it freedom of speech defacing the government’s webpages would probably not be as effective or even desirable.

    Meh. We should probably consider ourselves lucky that the democratic movements online are growing visibly and with a large impact. 🙂 Globalisation of nation state politics has certainly gone on for too long without intervention!

    But is a much more interesting and adventurous part of collaborative politics online than Wikipedia and Open Source (at least just now).

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