Politics 2.0 Conference: Keynote Speakers

I am in London this week blogging live from Politics 2.0: An International Conference.

The conference kicked off with two Keynote speakers:

  • Robin Mansell: Head of Department of Media and Communications at LSE and co-Director of PhD program;
  • Helen Margetts: Professor of Society and Internet at the Oll.

Looking at the other keynote speakers lined up for the rest of the conference, it’s really refreshing to have panels that are far more gender balanced than the majority of conferences I’ve been to.

Professor Mansell introduce her presentation on “The Light and Dark Side of Web 2.0” but asking what Marx would say about the social web. User-generated contend means that the user/citizen is now co-producer, and co-owner of the means of production. The flip side, however, is that the information generated is less trustworthy and risk avoidance more prevalent among participants.

Professor Mansell also noted that historically, shifts in power have been partial and often local, in their consequences; we should expect the same in the Web 2.0 age. Scarce resources in this age include data/information management capabilities and time. In other words, actors seek control of difficult to replicate assets. In conclusion, Professor Mansell emphasized the need for further empirical. When asked what areas needed the most intention, she replied that the impact of Web 2.0 on human rights had the most pressing need for empirical study. To this send, see my blog entries on Human Rights 2.0 here and here.

I need to run to the next panel on social network analysis of blogospheres but just wanted to note one of Professor Margetts concluding points: “Ignore young people at your own peril.” This point is worth emphasizing since those adopting the latest distributed, decentralized and mobile ICTs are young people. Given that quantitative studies in the political science literature on civil wars argue that youth bulges potentially increase both opportunities and motives for political violence. Will the increasingly rapid diffusion of ICTs dampen this potentiality? Will the ICTs mediate tensions towards more nonviolent action?

Patrick Philippe Meier

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