Reflections on what might have been
“Nous (pronounced /ˈnuːs/, Greek: νοῦς or νόος) is a philosophical term for mind or intellect. Outside of a philosophical context, it is used, in English, to denote “common sense,” with a different pronunciation (/naʊs/).” – Wikipedia.
One of my many faults is that I have no political nous. I am devoid of nous. Despite long years in local government, no nous! It explains, perhaps, why I’m more practical in nature, a doer, an organiser but not a political animal. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have political views, I do, though I tend to keep them to myself an awareness of the lack of nous has taught me that it’s unsafe ground, to be avoided. Having no political nous can be a huge disadvantage which is probably just one of the reasons why I never rose to the heights of leadership in the public domain – I’ll never be a fellow of the RSA -.
I think I’m suffering from a loss of faith. It was brought to a head by this item in the Sunday Times 16/08/09:
Following the encouraging noises that followed Stephen Timms appointment to take forwards the Digital Britain report I had thought, like many others, that there was hope. I understood why the digital agenda was now split between CLG and BIS, an economic imperative will always keep politicians attention. I hadn’t anticipated that even Stephen Timms would have to sacrifice Next Generation Access in the face of the political expediency of getting the budget through before next year’s election. If there is a chance that the Tories will oppose the finance bill because they object to the landline tax then the landline tax must go. Where does this put the Tories on Next Generation Access?
I’m not saying that NGA is a cornerstone of Digital Inclusion – far from it – so why a loss of faith? It’s because it’s a reminder that real power resides in national politics and commercial interests and not, in the hands of the people. Well of course it does, I hear you say. That being the case, what are we all doing? If two million people “Tweeted” and “Blogged” in opposition to the decision do we think it will make a difference?
Two other things this week have contributed to my apostasy.
I was as appalled as most people by the featured “news” item on the Fox News Network about the NHS as a recruiting ground for terrorists: This was not so much that I was offended by criticism of the NHS it was the corporate sponsored racial profiling that was perceived as “okay” in the US because it was part of a Republican campaign about healthcare reform. Do we imagine for one moment that overloading Twitter with #welovethenhs is going to make a difference?
I was also struck by the item on the BBC’s “Click” about a proposed law in Italy which will force Bloggers to publish a right of reply for people who feel that their reputation or honour has been damaged. This is in a country where 50% of the people do not have access to the Internet and the majority of the media is owned by the country’s Prime minister. Will it become law – I’m sure it will, because the power lies with national politics. Do we imagine for one minute that all the blogs in Italy are going to make a difference?
I am a passionate believer in the empowerment agenda. I believe fundamentally that digital inclusion should be a right for every single individual. I see the power of inter-connected ICT as self evident in its ability to educate, give access and, most importantly to give voice. But a voice that is not heard is just a rage against a storm. If the democratic potential of the internet is just a myth then why are we doing this? Yes we can help give coherence to communities, yes we can provide access to services to those who most need them and yes we can share knowledge and understanding; but until we can give substance to the voices of the people, make them heard and make them a power for change we are, perhaps, just tweeting in the wilderness and the world will go on as before.
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