Reputaton management

e-bay: a peer-to-peer reputation management system

e-bay: a peer-to-peer reputation management system

Conall McDevitt has an interesting post up about CEO reputations:

“Communicating frequently with their employees. Certainly with their customers too, but not to forget their employees. At a time of uncertainty employees are hungry for information. CEOs need to take responsibility. Apologize if they are wrong. If they don’t know the answer, say they don’t know. We are just starting to see CEOs really being the face of the company.”

The CEOs of the Big 3 Auto Companies get a mention: Continue reading

Whiter than white?

The Man in the White Suit - the new Parliamentary uniform?

The Man in the White Suit - the new Parliamentary uniform?

Do we really want politicians to be public paragons of virtue?

A good deal of what I read tends to work on the assumption that we do. Take this, for example:

“As technology evolves, the same public information laws create novel and in some cases previously unimaginable levels of transparency. In many cases, particularly those related to the conduct of top public officials, this seems to be a clearly good thing. In others, particularly those related to people who are not public figures, it may be more of a mixed blessing or even an outright problem. 

I’m reminded of the “candidates” of ancient Rome—the Latin word candidatus literally means “clothed in white robes,” which would-be officeholders wore to symbolize the purity and fitness for office they claimed to possess. By putting themselves up for public office, they invited their fellow citizens to hold them to higher standards.”

I mentioned this on another forum, and my friend, Chris, commented that the whiteness of the robes were also a status symbol. They said “look at me – I live in a nice part of town and I’ve got servants and slaves” Continue reading

Digital engagement, transparency and power

Kevin Harris has a long but worth-reading post over on the New Start magazine’s blog.

Are interactive media experts really improving the quality of democracy?

Tony Blair: A bit more concerned about controlling his party's message than his predecessors were.

Tony Blair: A bit more concerned about controlling his party's message than his predecessors were.

OK, in recent posts, I’ve moaned about the demands for political transparency that are being fuelled by new interactive media applications. Let me try and put this into some perspective:

In my opening ‘defending political parties‘ post, I acknowledged that there are a few early knockout punches that could be delivered to the argument that political parties are a good thing.

Here are some examples: Firstly, all political parties ‘control their messages’ (unless they are an electorally unsuccessful party) and do anything they can within the law to silence opponents, discourage sceptics, and orchestrate the way that the public are seen to to receive their ideas.

Were you or I as boorish, the dinner-invitations would dry up fairly quickly. In this respect, politicians behave like successful commercial brands.

They conduct personal campaigns against their opponents, playing the man instead of the ball. They bully anyone that they need to in order to get their message across. They compete in the market for votes with the ruthlessness and cynicism with which businesses compete for customers.

If one of their number is caught with a hand in the till, they cover up or excuse it as far as they can. But if the alleged culprit is – in fact – innocent, they can still be expect to be abandoned without mercy if things get too hot.

The concerns that parties raise in opposition are often forgotten as soon as the ministerial backsides sink into the ministerial limo. They can play very fast-and-loose with the actualité at times. They are opaque where they could be transparent.

They are not consistent in their communications, and different audiences are routinely told what they want to hear. You can never trust a political party to do what it says it’s going to do, and you can expect manifesto pledges to be treated like clauses in a public-procurement contract: Things to be wriggled out of as soon as the deal is done.

But that’s enough about their virtues. No party could ever win an election, or govern effectively without committing all of the sins listed above, and few governments have ever been faced with an opposition that isn’t prepared to match them on these points. The alternative to strong political parties is a tyrany of Victors.

This is not to say that politicians don’t sometimes do bad things as well though. If they do all of the above, and introduce generally good legislation, I suspect that most of us would all forgive them. Continue reading

Counterproductive demands for transparency?

Do we understand or respect Parliament more now it is broadcasted?

Do we understand or respect Parliament more now it is televised?

About a year ago, I heard snippets of a radio programme that really stuck with me.

I didn’t make a note of the name of the programme at the time (I was driving), and it has taken me best part of the last year plugging away at the few contacts I have in the BEEB’s political journalism department to track down a recording (thanks Alan!).

A transcript would have been very handy a few times recently when I’ve found myself discussing the pros and cons of political transparency, and the implications for both local and national government.

It was, it turned out, it wasn’t one of Radio 4’s political staples, but The Archive Hour marking the 30th anniversary of the broadcasting of Parliament (the first routine broadcast took place on 3rd April 1978, though there was a four-week trial a few years earlier, and the leap from radio to TV coverage didn’t take place until 1985). Continue reading

Transparency camp

The lastest in the near-franchise that is BarCamp – TransparencyCamp (US). (No rush to book by the way. The Washington DC venue may be a bit of a big ask, and the fact that it happened over a week ago may also make it awkward for you to attend).

But it’s an interesting idea nevertheless. This all raises the question: Is transparency (a ‘yay-word’ undoubtedly) necessarily a good thing unless it is applied in equal measures to the rivals that stalk elected representatives?

There are plenty of organisations that would not have objectives that are close to the public interest – however you want to define it – that would welcome greater transparency in policymaking. But – for me – when we look at different ways of making government more transparent, would it empower Victor more than Mrs M (see previous post).

A one-sided demand for transparency?

Guy Fawkes - the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions.

Old Anarchist joke: Guy Fawkes - the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions.

Two weeks ago, Internet campaigners made a decisive intervention on what was, as far as the media were concerned, a big story.

Perhaps the most prominent single political blogger in the UK – Guido Fawkes – was followed by perhaps the leading alliance of hacktivists MySociety in demanding that MPs desist from exempting themselves from the full disclosure rules in the Freedom of Information Act.

One rule for them?

As far as I can see, this is an oddly directed campaign. There is one strong argument in it’s favour:

  • If Parliament imposes Freedom of Information rules on other areas of government and failed to make the case for Parliamentary Privileges at the time of the original drafting, it looks foolish to try and wriggle out of the obligations respectively – and it damages Parliament’s reputation to do so.

The other arguments are, I think, a good deal weaker.

An effective way to ‘clean up Parliament?’

Will it stem corruption? I don’t think so. Most of the recent scandals have been to do with the choice of staff who have been employed and what they do. Disclosing receipts won’t deal with that. Continue reading