We had a great discussion of the internet and politics at Hub Helsinki on Tuesday. Riku and I spoke of the topic “From True Finns to Helsinki Spring and beyond. How social media is changing politics in Finland and what should be done next?”
I’m enclosing the updated slides we prepared for that session. I’d also like share a couple of concluding thoughts.
Riku and I think the Internet is a great thing in the service of democracy. But the tools and platforms we now have don’t seem to encourage negotiation and deliberation between extremes.
Director Jarmo Eskelinen of Forum Virium Helsinki addressed this at MindTrek last week: “Forced Communities: Why the Public Sector Fails to Gather Crowds Online”. He brought up the example of the government run debate forum www.otakantaa.fi where, at best, ministry-led debates gather a few dozen comments. Talk about viral effect.
I think the government fails because of a very fundamental reason. It’s not the constitutional role of the government to start debates.
Dont get me wrong. I’m an advocate of open communication of civil servants. Finland’s constitution, at least, expects a far greater level of openness from them than what they now are able to deliver.
But the real agenda setting role for political debate should be with the political parties. With the people. They give the ideas, they pitch the initiatives, they are the innovators, they ask the questions – not the state. It is the civil society, the parties, the third sector and companies that should also provide the answers to the questions and act accordingly, with or without the government.
What, then, is the government’s role? It is to provide platforms for all this. It gives physical and technological frameworks for people to address and solve their own problems.
This is, actually, what the state has always done. In democracy 1.0, this framework was the Parliament. The Parliament is a building and an institution provided by the state, but filled with ideological battle and practical problem solving of the civil society – the parties. The parties, then, give orders to the ministries to assist the people in implementing their vision.
In the digital world, this clean-cut constitutional division of roles has been twisted. The state has started to act like a civil society player. That is why www.otakantaa.fi and other government-led debate forums seldom work. In democracies, governments are not meant to lead debates. The civil society is.
In the following slides we present two Finnish political movements that grow from the civil society, using Web2.0 tools in very different ways and for very different purposes: The Wing and The Spring.
- (suomi) Järviwiki, Avoin ministeriö ja Joukkoenkeli ovat osa kansallista ilmiötä
- So what do you actually do?
- Suomen demokratian kevät 2012 – Miksi suomeen syntyi kansalaisyhteiskunta? Sen riskit ja mahdollisuudet
- Ja niin päättyi Gutenbergin aika
- Power to the networks
- The Wing, the Spring and the constitutional problem with government-led debate forums
- Ja voittaja on!
- Lisää voimaa verkostoon
- Open data can be a trap for digital democracy
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