On Non-Partisanship and Anonymity in the Internet Era

Friday, September 4, 2015

by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

By now you ­ – if you are a federal public servant – you are likely familiar with the (infamous?) ‘Harperman’ YouTube video.  If you aren't, feel free to read any of the following (and I'm sure I missed some):

Ottawa Citizen
National Post
Globe and Mail
The issue was top of mind for a few days (in Ottawa at least); the view counter on the video went from about 40k to over 500k views on the back of mainstream media attention and sharing via social media, a website was stood up, and a crowdfunding campaign launched.

Now, I don't plan on wading into dangerous waters on this one but I did want to table a couple of issues that I think are worth thinking about:
  • This isn't actually all that newsworthy, especially to those outside the Ottawa bubble; blame journalism's broken business model that rewards emotive, sensationalistic reporting and our propensity for scandal.
  • The attention brought on by the investigation made this more of a story than it should have been; blame the Streisand effect.
  • None of this would be possible without the Internet; blame Vint Cerf.

Basically - the web is acting as a solvent to some of Westminster's oldest conventions (in this case non-partisanship and anonymity). All that said, Daniel Blouin posted a series of Tweets about the issue from his own perspective, I've assembled them in a storify that I've embedded below. It's worth reading.