“New means of moving information will alter any power structure.”
Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media
The other track this blog will follow deals with the role of Information Communication Technology and conflict/dispute mitigation. The “civil” track of this concerns online dispute resolution – which is now well-established (more at another time on this). The other track is the “ICT for Peace” line of thinking. And on this I note a relatively recent item on the UNESCO site:
The Declaration stresses that independent and pluralistic media are essential for ensuring transparency, accountability and participation as fundamental elements of good governance and human rights-based development. It furthermore notes that freedom of opinion and expression are essential for free and democratic societies and contribute to a better understanding of and a dialogue among cultures.
See also the link to Sanjana Hattotuwa’s blog in the blog roll on this site. And the web site of the ICT for Peace Foundation, established by Martti Ahtisaari: http://ict4peace.org/
This field is, I guess, also a potential example of the expanding role of non-state agencies in the peace and dialogue process – though states and international agencies are certainly also engaged (of which UNESCO is an example).
One element to bear in mind in relation to both ICT and mediation is that “private” technologies need to be seen also – perhaps more so – in terms of their civic or public contributions. Mediation in the West, for example, has been fostered for its values of private settlement, autonomy, confidentiality, choice and so on; yet in its original homes, mediation served and serves more of a normative, integrative function. The parallel with ICT is possibly this, that ICT does foster narrowcasting, the translation of citizens into consumers whose priority is choice, autonomy and a new technoculture; BUT, that same technology can be seen – and needs to be used – in terms of its capacity to foster engagement, citizenship, civic dialogues:
“In short, the interactive mediaspace offers a new way of understanding civilisation itself, and a new set of good reasons for engaging with civic reality more fully in the face of what are often perceived (or taught) to be the many risks and compromises associated with cooperative behaviour.” [Douglas Rushkoff, “Open Source Democracy: How Online Communication is Changing Offline Politics” (from www.demos.uk 16]