Advanced Media Issues: 3091

Week 8: Transparency

For my discussion I will be focusing on the reading ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government.’<http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,0> written by Laurence Lessig in 2010. Lessig has been able to succinctly describe the three types of transparency, including naked transparency, targeted transparency, and management transparency.

Naked transparency is where predominantly government data is collected and reproduced so that it is more accessible for the public. An example of this given by Lessig, is that the White House must post all bills on to the internet twenty four hours prior to being voted on.

Management transparency is produced to make ‘government data more measurable’ (Lessig, 2010) in order for governments to be measured better and encourage them to work better for the good of the public. I understood this to be similar to the Myschools website where parents can go on to the Internet and compare schools.

Targeted transparency organizes ‘standardized, comparable, and disaggregated information’ (Lessig,2010), so that it is more accessible for a broader and more public audience. I see this as a term for the recent developments on food packaging where, it is much clearer to see how much of ones daily intake of fats, proteins and other nutrients they are getting from eating the product.

Lessig posses the questions

No doubt they will have a profound effect. But will the effect of these projects—at least on their own, unqualified or unrestrained by other considerations—really be for the good? Do we really want the world that they righteously envisage?”

Lessig, 2010

This made me think further into the problems associated with transparency and how achievable it really is in the world of politics. We only have to look as far as Wikileaks for an answer. Many postings on Wikileaks have been edited, thus this is not true transparency because we are not being shown the whole picture. I have posted a video titled ‘Collateral Murder’, which caused great enrage in the public not only because of its brutal content, but also because of the way Wikileaks edited, to what many people believed was to push an agenda.

Transparency, was a popular movement however, I don’t ever see it becoming a productive realisation. Lessig is correct in saying that the more knowledge we have on the government, it becomes counter productive. The public will only further question the decisions being made and scrutinise them in a negative way.