“GOVERNANCE IS NOT A DIRTY WORD”

28Nov11

The word “governance” is not a word that usually sits well with media organizations. This has not changed much with the ever-growing presence of networked organizations. The biggest form of governmental intervention that media organizations want is that of intellectual property protection, which to these organizations does not feel like governance, in the colloquial use of the term. As new forms of communication continue to develop and our society forms more complex networks, “tension between horizontal modes of communication and vertical regimes of control” rises.[1]  This tension is very evident in today’s network neutrality battle. After a phase of deregulation of communications, proponents of net neutrality regulations are being met with halting backlash. Opponents to net neutrality governance argue that the networks have developed the way they are today without or with minimal government intervention and should remain that way. What network organizations must realize is that “horizontal and vertical axes of communication are not separate or opposed but mutually constitutive.”[2] The more people that join these networks, either in the managing front or the user front, the higher the need for governance to guide the development as to best serve the public. We have seen this with the development of all communications technologies. Governance, in this sense, does not necessarily equal excessive control.

“More often than not, networks adopt a trial-and-error approach to governance.”[3] People who analyze network neutrality understand the fluidity in governance of network organizations as evidenced in Coleman Bazelon’s and Stuart Brotman’s article Network neutrality: Implementation Measured in the Details. In their article, Bazelon and Brotman emphasize the need for the government to define what it is doing upfront. Perhaps this will make network managers more comfortable. Bazelon and Brotman’s article hits the idea of trial-and-error in network governance right on the head with their idea that “recognizing the constantly and rapidly evolving nature of the Internet and its content, today’s rules may not be applicable five years from now. Therefore, regulators should limit this first phase of net neutrality regulation to an initial review period — two to five years — to assess the evidence of existing harm and potential for harm in the future.”[4]

Perhaps if the government presents net neutrality regulation in the way Bazelon and Brotman express, network organizations will realize “It is better to recognize that governance is not a dirty word but one that is internal to the logic and protocols of self-organization.”[5]

 


[1] Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter, Urgent Aphorisms, in Managing Media Work 279, 285 (2011).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Coleman Bazelon and Stuart Brotman, Network neutrality: Implementation Measured in the Details, NetworkWorld, available at http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/111611-net-neutrality-253209.html.

[5] Lovink, supra note 1.

 

–Sade

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