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My interview with SMU about responsible participation

April 7, 2009

Recently I was interviewed by students from Michael Netzley’s social media 215 class at Singapore Management University (SMU) about ‘responsible participation’ – ok some call it responsible blogging, but you can read their report and hear my views on the subject here.

As background, the issue of people ‘acting and talking responsibly online’ has been debated by the Singapore government since 2006. In January 2009, after an MP was victim of a freak attack, some bulletin boards included posts with vitriol and sheer stupidity on the issue (human nature, huh?). This again prompted the government to reiterate that they expected people and communities to be self-regulating – like I said, human nature huh?

Anyway, as ‘responsible participation‘ has not been defined or debated, Phil Gomes and I hosted Daryl Tay, Michael Netzley, Ben Koe, Preetam Rai and Eastcoastlife at Edelman’s Singapore office to discuss the term and debate what it means in terms of the relationship between the online community and Singapore government.

It was a great conversation, best summed up in Michael and Daryl’s posts, but for me there are three key points:

– the vast majority of people (99.99%) are hugely responsible and many will moderate the maverick element in their community

– let’s not define responsible participation tightly; everyone knows the boundaries and trying to police/manage it would be a nightmare

– more needs to be done to increase the understanding and relationship between the government and online communities

As we lead into a range of elections across Asia in the next 24 months, the topic of responsible participation (under a range of guises) will surface again. I’m committed to Edelman helping ensure the dialogue between online and government is one of partnership, not competiton.

It can (and should) be done.

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