Matthew Hodgson asks at The AppGap what participation and engagement really mean and he refers to the IAP2 core values of public participation. These values, based on “the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process” are important for a participative democracy but I think that something is still missing. The values seem to imply that people are involved during the decision-making process only, as in let’s get some public input and set up some round tables, forums and discussion areas; much as the government is doing on copyright in Canada.
Like voting every four years, even the most participatory models offered by our institutions fail to grasp the nature of our networked world. Today, much of the public is always-on and you can find someone talking about the issues. Participation doesn’t stop any more. One shot deals, even those that are open and inclusive, do not recognize this sea change in communications.
Euan Semple discusses how different life and work in a global network are going to be:
I am currently reading Manuel Castells’ fantastic book The Power of Communication. In it he talks of the global network society’s tendency to truncate time and how the industrial society, with its ideas of progress, deferred gratification, Protestant work ethic etc. made becoming more important than being. In his view in the networked society “being cancels becoming”.
As a fellow freelancer, Euan is being rather than becoming. There is no corporate ladder to climb or professional designation to achieve. If everyone felt this way, many of our institutions (schools, universities, certification bodies) would collapse. Perhaps that is why many will in the near future.
The challenge for organizations and institutions in a global networked society will be to incorporate “being” into their management models. Participation becomes a constant and dynamic flow through the organization and outside it. How can you be participative in everything, not just to make the initial decision? How does that change the role of management? What is management in a network? There are probably some answers from those who are already being, accepting life in Beta, as well as those who never embraced the industrial model of becoming. We have to look to the edges of modern society to see the possibilities.
Photo: Living on the Edge by Giant Ginkgo