I Gotta be Me: Public Reason and the Hardwired Global Citizen


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Global citizens are connecting via the internet, and engaging in public reason - discussing matters that concern a greater good. They are riding the long tail, and using soft power to reconfigure social space, causing power to devolve downward, and ideas to spread outwards.

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I Gotta be Me: Public Reason and the Hardwired Global Citizen

  1. 1. I Gotta be Me: Public Reason and the Hardwired Global Citizen A Digital Report From The Counter-Publics Working Group Daniel Drache, Senior Research Fellow and Associate Director Jaigris Hodson, Research Associate Please Send Comments to [email_address] September 2007 Eye Conics
  2. 2. I Gotta Be Me: Public Reason and The Hardwired Global Citizen
  3. 3. Who is the Global Citizen ? The Global Citizen engages in public reason across temporal and spatial boundaries using the tools available to her.
  4. 4. Public Reason <ul><li>Public Reason occurs when members of society discuss matters that concern a greater good. </li></ul>This dialogue is the first step to public action.
  5. 5. What are Global Citizens Doing? <ul><li>Global Citizens are signing petitions, starting boycotts, creating art, breaking copyright laws, filesharing, blogging, engaging in elite challenging activities, and above all, they are talking to one another! </li></ul>
  6. 6. Where do you find the Global Citizen? <ul><li>The Global Citizen can be found in coffee shops, when she discusses the issues that matter to her with members of her community… </li></ul>
  7. 7. Sometimes She’s in Unlikely Places <ul><li>The Global Citizen can be found at the mall, when she chooses to support certain businesses over others by “voting with her wallet”… </li></ul>
  8. 8. Public Reason at the Movies? <ul><li>The Global Citizen can be found at the movie theatre, such as when residents of a Dallas suburb held an impromptu town hall meeting in a movie theatre lobby to discuss their concerns after watching a Michael Moore film… </li></ul>
  9. 9. A Public, Online <ul><li>The Global Citizen can be found online at Twitter, Wikipedia, and Facebook, where she uses the Internet as a tool to communicate with friends and those she has never met in person… </li></ul>
  10. 10. Global Citizens are everywhere!
  11. 11. What Does the Global Citizen Need to Get Connected? <ul><li>Note pad and pencil: to take notes as a citizen journalist </li></ul><ul><li>Digital camera: to visually record important events. </li></ul><ul><li>Computer with email and instant messaging: to instantly update website, while on the go. </li></ul><ul><li>Cell phone with SMS: to stay in touch with other citizens and organize the rabble. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Media <ul><li>Not all media are equally suited for the toolbox of the Global Citizen. To encourage public reason, a medium must be politically fluid, and offer the potential to reach a large audience. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Push vs. Pull <ul><li>Does the Message come to you, or are you drawn to the message? Push media, like television advertising, invades your space. Pull media, like your favorite blog, sucks you in. One of these forms of persuasion is noise, the other is welcomed by the Global Citizen. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Broadcast Model <ul><li>Like the elite producers of media content, the Global Citizen uses a “broadcast model” to distribute her message. Unlike the elites, the Global Citizen is both a producer and a consumer of media content. </li></ul>
  15. 15. The Long Tail – Big Idea <ul><li>The Internet is the perfect medium for the Global Citizen, because it can reach a much greater audience even with lower initial concentration through what is known as The Long Tail. </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Long Tail is an economic model: This graph shows us how online retailers (in yellow) make most of their sales in small and obscure products that bricks and mortar retailers (in red) do not have space to carry. This speaks to the power of the Internet to circulate smaller ideas throughout a global audience.
  17. 17. But what does Economics have to do with the Global Citizen? <ul><li>The Long Tail works as a social model as well: Traditional (offline) methods of information distribution only reach so far. There are not enough hours in the day to schedule broadcasts of all the information of interest to the Global Citizen. Online distribution changes the rules. Information can be broadcast on an infinite number of channels. </li></ul>VS.
  18. 18. The Online Public and Reason <ul><li>With help from the long tail, and by encouraging easy content production, the Internet can facilitate public reason, and thus provide a space for the Global Citizen to operate. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Hard Power <ul><li>Hard power is an often contested, hierarchical, command and control power structure (Big Brother is watching you). It offers rewards for favorable behavior and doles out punishments for unfavorable behavior. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Because of its bureaucratic, or militaristic nature, Hard Power is often wielded by government and corporate lawmakers. It is not normally used by the Global Citizen Where do we see Hard Power?
  21. 21. Soft Power <ul><li>Soft power is important to the success of the Global Citizen. Soft power offers neither punishment nor reward. If you possess soft power, people follow you because they want to. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Soft Power vs. Hard Power Hard Power Marginalizes the Citizen. Soft Power gives the citizen legs and lung capacity
  23. 23. Threats to the Global Citizen <ul><li>Many parties are interested in hobbling the Global Citizen. Public reason is a threat to those who favor unreason. Also, the rich and powerful would rather see the citizen as a mindless consumer of corporate pablum than see the citizen as a producer of public dialogue. </li></ul>
  24. 24. The Commons and Public Reason <ul><li>Public reason is impossible without a cultural commons. The Global Citizen does not exist without public reason. So the Global Citizen cannot exist in absence of a cultural commons. </li></ul>
  25. 25. The Cultural Commons <ul><li>Is a place where the texts which create public reason (and therefore global citizens) are brought into being </li></ul><ul><li>Is a place where ideas can be heard regardless of government and corporate influence </li></ul>
  26. 26. Battle for the Commons? <ul><li>In the 21 st century, a battle over the ideas, values, and identity of the cultural commons is being waged. This “long war” pits fair access to information against the more corporate exclusive right to information. The lines are drawn and the fight is taking place on the Internet. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Closing of the Commons: Paranoia or Reality?
  28. 28. Threats to the Commons <ul><li>The Global Citizen MUST have a space to operate. The Internet facilitates dialog and allows for a sharing of ideas. However, the rich and powerful with their command and control hierarchies seek to silence the Citizen by removing her broadcasting capabilities. They want to stifle her creativity. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Hope for the Future <ul><li>The digital divide is closing with the explosion of cell phone use and text messaging in Africa and other parts of the world. As long as there is a potential market, companies will invest in infrastructure, and the voice of the Citizen will continue to grow stronger around the world. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Unequal Access? <ul><li>Still, voices that cannot take advantage of these tools are silenced. Democracy and dialogue are not assured unless access is guaranteed for everyone. </li></ul>
  31. 31. The Global Citizen in the Future <ul><li>In a decade, we may not even recognize the face of the Global Citizen. People have a desire to connect with one another, and their efforts could push the boundaries of public reason. Power dynamics are being pushed downwards. Ideas are being spread outwards and upwards. The Global Citizen is riding the Long Tail. We don’t know where this will lead, but we will surely end up in a very different place. </li></ul>
  32. 32. The Global Citizen in the Future ?