ICE blogs

October 18, 2010

New stress on values by NGOs

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, conferences — news_editor @ 8:53 am

The Common Cause Report (September 2010) produced by five international non-governmental organisations (NGO) is quite ground-breaking, writes Robert Beckett. The scale of membership and operation of NGOs such as Oxfam, WWF (UK), Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN), the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Friends of the Earth (FoE), suggests a powerful common agenda which highlights two themes for communication ethics.

The first theme describes how the environment and development movements and their campaigning agendas are being transformed by a critique of the values which underpin factual analysis, rather than remaining stuck in arguments with fixed positions based on facts. Values, the report argues, are used by people to pre-judge matters of fact and therefore, in matters of critical and complex disagreement, it is values that most influence decisions. A second theme identifies how these values are best represented as ‘frames’ that structure the matrix of complex issues which NGOs deal with. These frames can be deconstructed to isolate the underlying moral, social and human values so that better communication can take place.

As leading campaign organisations move to address a moral framing of issues that many communication researchers identify as powerful and motivating, there appears to be a new opportunity. For those interested in discourse analysis, critical theory and social constructionism, to name a few of the communication theories and insights that appear to have gained significant endorsement in this report, the time may be right to link communication ethics with a growing critique, based on values, now shared with the environmental and development movements.

A good first step might be to search for funding currently available through the report sponsors, the Arthur Page Centre for Public Integrity, at Penn State University (see link below).

- The Common Cause Report may be accessed at
http://www.wwf.org.uk/what_we_do/campaigning/strategies_for_change/?uNewsID=4224
- See also http://pagecenter.comm.psu.edu/index.php/legacy-scholar-grant

Socialnomics - the way ahead

According to the YouTube presentation ‘Social Media Revolution 2′ (part of a set of short-videos all available at the link below) social networks are the new community, university, service provider, self-generated media and self-programming work-space, writes Robert Beckett.

This video promotes a best-selling book, Socialnomics by Erik Qualman (2009), which describes the phenomenal success of social media. As its thesis, Qualman foresees the decline of print media and the printed text, the end of the author as singular authority and the rise of collaborative networks and actors from the new Y and Z generations. Social networks, particularly Facebook, are phenomenally successful - Facebook would be the 3rd largest country by population after China and India according to Qualman - while the video is more promotional than credible research.

However, there is a good argument promoted here for a new generation of co-creating learners, not only educating themselves with a little help from the occasional good teacher, but also governing themselves, building their own sustainable resources and largely ignoring the limits imposed by old ways of doing almost everything.

With reference to the present education debate in the UK, the latest developments in social media suggest how powerful new learning opportunities should be heeded. New programmes such as ‘edutainment and gaming for life’ (see links) are based on a completely different set of learning assumptions. In ten years time, the whole architecture of education may even be redesigned around technologies that enable distance, virtual and game learning and encourage mass participation. So looking to the future, interestingly, it looks much like many of the communication researchers predicted thirty years ago, somewhere between dystopia and do-it-yourself.

- See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFZ0z5Fm-Ng&feature=player_embedded; http://socialnomics.net/; http://www.nesta.org.uk/assets/events/hot_topics_serious_games; http://www.nesta.org.uk/assets/features/serious_games_1; http://www.iftf.org/SuperstructGame; http://www.ted.com/talks/tom_chatfield_7_ways_games_reward_the_brain.html; http://g4tv.com/videos/44277/dice-2010-design-outside-the-box-presentation/; http://www.futurelab.org.uk/projects/games-in-education; http://thecommunicationspace.com/forum/topics/print-textbooks-arent-going.

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