My AHA! Moments

Thursday, December 15, 2005

My Self-Assessment of the Course

We are required to submit a self assessment of the course as well as our performances within the Digital Governance class. Since I have become familiar with "blogging" I have incorporated it as my main source of communicating and conveying information. I have posted my readings on here, so feel free to check them out. I have also created links to documents and/or sites that pertain to that blog's theme. What was new for me was trying to incorporate pictures within my blog. I had some successes and a gaggle of failures but the point is I learned how to do it. Maybe the more blogging I do the more tech savvy I'll become. As for this class, I've come to the realization that I am a small fish in a giant bowl. I wasn't aware of half of the concepts we addressed in this class and I think that showed. Some of the weeks I sat quietly, observing, trying to grasp what exactly was going on. The readings helped. In particular the three I read were very helpful in understanding the basics of eDemocracy, eRulemaking and the like. I totally and completely fell in love with the Snyder book because it explained fluency of information technology in a way I could comprehend. I have even suggested it to my Organizing Information professor as an accompaniment. I think that my performance in the class can be broken down into two topics:Class Participation and Assignment Completion. Class participation was a high point for me in that I was able to express my concerns and even ask "stupid" questions without feeling embarrassed. It is from many of my off comments that I learned about the magnitude of digital governance. Assignment completion is a state of mind in that I have completed them but not in the appropriate format. I took a cue from Patty and Piotr about posting their essay and at the time it made sense. That is where my essays are and unfortunately I can't cut an paste them elsewhere for submittal. That was my mistake but it's all apart of the learning process. Also, I had my sights on doing a power point presentation on the work that I do but the connection between it and this course were marginal. I opted for the paper which gives me the opportunity to explain some of what I do and try to make the connection of this type of information to the course. I hope that it works. Overall, I think that this was a wonderful growing experience because I am not open to new things I thought scary. After recording my voice for the power point presentation and discussing with Luke his podcast ideas, I am inspired to want to contribute and possibly learn even more about how global governance will affect us all. I have to thank all those who were in my class for inspiring me to want to understand the internet beyond just emails and chat rooms. I want to also thank Dr. Shulman for allowing us an environment to express our thoughts and concerns constructively and create a platform to investigate these processes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Milestone 10-Now It's Time to Say Goodbye

Wow, we are at the end of this journey into digital governance. I must admit I had quite a rocky start. I felt like a fish out of water but I think by the end of this I've learned at least the mechanics of swimming. Like an onion there are so many layers to this thing that it'll take forever to truly deconstruct it all. I know that when this class began I stepped out on faith because I really thought I'd be surrounded by a sea of uber geniuses. I think I said that quote earlier in my blog actually. What I found out was that they are geniuses but geniuses with heart but also common sense. We know the potential power of this technology but the need to abuse it does not resonate in the class mates I've worked with. They understand the importance of creating a digital universe as close to utopia as possible and the need to incoporate those from all walks of life to experience this amazing transformation of democracy. It still frightens me. I worry about who's behind it all and what they intend to do with it. But in the same respect I think of how everyone thought the world would end in 2000. We ran around frantic and when it did become a new millenia nothing happened. I think that about eDemocracy too. Perhaps we're hyping it up so much that when it does arrive it's a whimper rather than a growl. I have been inspired by my classmates to learn more than the conventional web. I have learned to really think about how paper democracy and eDemocracy will coexist or will they? I don't quite know the answers to that but what I do know is that as long as there are people out there questioning and encouraging this thing to grow it'll be okay. I worry when there aren't any voices out there and things become easily accepted without any deliberation.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Presentations-A reflection of sorts

I just want to say to all those who did their presentations that they were phenomenal. David Totten's NPR-esque presentation of the Wi-Fi connection in a small Native American town in Alaska was brilliant. I think that it's amazing this small town understood the importance of the internet and incorporated it into a marketing campaign of their traditional art work. One of the issues I brought up in the class was the concern for those individuals upon their success. As we have seen with many groups that are considered impoverished or economically depressed, when they begin to make money Big Business comes in wanting their share of the profits.
As for Piotr's presentation I must agree with Dr. Shulman that he is definitely wise beyond the norm. Every point was met with a counterpoint and some of the concerns about Wiki were easily and effectively explained. Piotr is definitely a genius in his own right and his plan is to create the world in the image and innovation of Wiki.
Damiem's doctoral presentation is very specific. Some of the ideas he posed were a bit over my head but I enjoyed the creative powerpoint. I would like to learn more about what he was discussing.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Milestone 9-Perhaps I Shouldn't Be in Movies

If ya'll remember that initially I wanted to do a powerpoint presentation on the web based information system I work with for Allegheny County. At the suggestion of Dr. Shulman I changed that to the paper and I find that to be a better medium. The more I thought about it and upon seeing the masterpieces from my fellow classmates, the better the idea sounded. I have been constructing what I think is a pretty good paper but enough of that for now. My milestone similar to the title is that I shouldn't be attempting Powerpoint presentations that loosely tie to the course. Yeah it's a harsh reality but I honestly am very much torn and in some instances undecided on the effectiveness of eRulemaking and eDemocracy. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about this class and when I proposed some of the benefits of eRulemaking he scoffed. When I asked him why he quickly replied " Although you can do things instantaneously such as email your Senator or discuss in realtime with other people on important topics doesn't mean the process is instantaneous. I thought about that for a moment. He was right. Even if I email the Senate or any one of the subcommittees they usually have a return "dummy" email that says thank you for your email. We'll get back to you. It's almost the same when you try to call the telephone company or the cable company. They redirect you to all these automated voices and you have to keep pressing the buttons until an actual voice is heard. Applying that to the whole concept of eRulemaking it's just another prompt we have to push buttons for.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Turkey Day!

I just want to wish everyone a Happy Turkey Day. Please travel safe and for those who are not going anywhere eat til your belly pokes out.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Lessig-The Saga Continues

I just want to say that this book is one of the must reads. I don't wanna sound like a groupie here but Lessig has brought up some deep issues concerning where we're heading as it pertains to copyright. How can we try to fit a circle in a square peg? That's how I see government trying to apply the current laws to cyberville. It's so transparent and formless yet at its core it's completely structured albeit weirdly. Not only that, the added issues are how do you prosecute an individual when they work from a URL that makes them foreign? We have seen the government's attempts to snag hackers and/or recruit them to work for the greater good. That's a partial solution but the problem is bigger than that. As Lessig might say you're constricting the air pipe of the creative throat. We fear change. We fear chaos. But we have to understand that order does result from chaos and with the web as it is, things will find order. Wikipedia is a model example. At the onslaught of such an idea people feared that contributers would post whatever came to mind and it would be a hodgepodge of useless information. A further examination shows that there is a structure. They do post often but there is also a deliberative element that regulates what things are posted. It's a wonderful and effective process but government tends to look at everything in the negative or worse case scenario.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Milestone 8-If all the World's A Stage, Where's My Check

I must admit, my milestone headings can be quite extravagant but they are relevant. I decided to take a line or two from a famous quote and slightly change it. Now for some they may say that the above statement is a unique idea and therefore I should copyright it. Granted I may consider such things but I'm trying to prove a point. The play on a line may inspire others to add, edit, or manipulate that verse to further derive meaning. Lessig's book discusses how just slight changes by the right business minded individual can lead to millions of dollars in success or millions of dollars in lawsuits. I was completely blown away at the part in the book where the guy wanted to use a small segment of the Simpsons and when he asked Matt Groenig he said sure. His gut told him to ask Groenig's company and they said no. He then asked how much it would cost to include such a small segment and when they gave him the price even I shook my head. What have we become? We are so obsessed with the thought that our ideas will be stolen but we disregard the important issues like the ongoing war in Iraq, homelessness, and famine. It's as if we are saying that if you can't profit there's no point in doing it. Now to tie this in to this class, which ya'll make think is a stretch. At this current juncture eRulemaking and deliberation is free. Heck, even blogging is free. But as we all remember, emails used to be free too. There are some that still exist but the storage space is so limited we are encouraged to buy more. eRulemaking may go that route too. "For a nominal fee you can access hundreds and thousands of chat rooms integral in the global policy making process..." It's just around the corner. We as digital citizens will one day pay for the right to deliberate, a thing we've been able to do for free in the real world. Again what will incur are cliques and an elite that will monitor and censor comments made against the majority. Perhaps I'm going off on a tangent a bit but Lessig alludes to it also. He calls it a restriction of creativity.