Friday, September 4, 2015

On Non-Partisanship and Anonymity in the Internet Era

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.

Note that while we work as public servants this is entirely our own initiative and what we post here does not necessarily reflect the view of the government, our offices or our positions there in.

Notez bien que nous travaillons commes functionnaires, ceci est entièrement notre propre initiative et ce que nous publions sur ce site ne reflète pas nécessairement le point de vue du gouvernement, de nos organisations ou de nos postes.