The ESADE Alumni Public Management Club in Madrid recently hosted a panel discussion featuring representatives of the public administration, politics and civil society. The panel of speakers debated the opportunities and challenges presented by social networks in the relationship between citizens and the public sphere.
The session was hosted by Óscar Cortés, Vice President of the ESADE Alumni Public Management Club. The first speaker was Marc Vidal, a leading economic blogger and entrepreneur, who represented ‘citizen 2.0’. He began by defining social networks as ‘ecosystems in which citizens have an essentially uncomfortable space for relationships where talent adds up, which is their major benefit’.
Mr. Vidal then turned his attention to the relationship between social networks and the public sphere. In his opinion, he said, politicians have used these platforms ‘as electronic status symbols’. To do so is an error, he said, basically because ‘we are now seeing a new reality, in which democracy is becoming deliberative and citizen-centred, and people’s opinions are formalised in social networks’. According to Mr. Vidal, we are in the midst of a change in which ‘public administration 2.0 must accept the fact that it is bound to its citizens’ and realise that it is ‘obliged to listen to them’.
The next speaker was Jorge Moragas, a member of the Spanish Parliament for the People’s Party and a political blogger, who represented ‘politics 2.0’. Mr. Moragas began by sharing some of his experiences in the 2.0 universe. He called blogs ‘extraordinary tools’ for measuring public opinion and noted that he has urged his party to prioritise their development. He then commented on the recent election in the United States and Barack Obama’s successful harnessing of blogs. ‘Now, no one can ignore this reality, or fail to see the enormous potential,’ he said.
Mr. Moragas shared some of the steps that his party is taking to promote the use of ‘Web 2.0’. The values embodied by this technology - ‘listening, dialogue, knowing how to unite people and their interests, stimulating emotions and creativity’ - have the power to ‘lead us into uncharted territory, bring about compromise, and amplify our messages’, this last being an essential point, according to Mr. Moragas.
The third speaker was David Cierco, Director General for the Information Society at the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade. Mr. Cierco discussed his experiences in applying the ‘2.0’ concept to the public administration. ‘The Internet now represents a new paradigm of coexistence,’ he said. ‘It is transformative, since Web 2.0 basically creates bidirectionality.’ Moreover, said Mr. Cierco, society is now organising itself on the Internet and citizens are demanding larger roles and spaces. ‘We need to start making decisions, because the concept of citizenship is changing,’ he said.
According to Mr. Cierco, in this new reality, and with this different sort of citizen, ‘dialogue is fundamental, even for the public administration, because it must adapt to these new technologies, which in turn must be adapted to changes’. He added: ‘The public administration ‘must be the one to lead this change’ because the barriers it faces are very large.
Towards the end of his remarks, Mr. Cierco explained the Spanish government’s ‘Plan Avanza’, which he described as a manifestation of ‘the Socialist Party’s electoral promise to advance the information society and develop a different sort of administration’. This plan, he said, ‘was developed, in terms of design, execution and budget, with input from various economic and social players in a collaborative, open and participatory format’.
After Mr. Cierco had finished, the speakers held an open discussion and took questions, including some submitted through Twitter, the online social messaging utility.
"The social network and his values: a new dimension for to talk and to share with the citizen"
The social network, or Web 2.0, is one of the most innovative breakthroughs in relation to the concepts of society and business. Through its tools – of which blogs and social networks are the most powerful and best known – it puts forward a series of values that represent a revolution in the role of citizens, by giving them a prominent role in the development of content and channels of communication.
As has been seen in the recent US presidential campaign, for example, 2.0 values offer tremendous challenges and opportunities in the public domain: A new role for citizens that requires a new way of conducting politics through new venues for debate, new channels of participation; and a profound shift toward an Administration that is capable of interacting with new virtual social structures, reaching a broader audience, offering its services proactively or increasing its capacity to adapt quickly and clearly in both content and communication.
Through dialogue involving citizens, politicians and the Administration – represented by the three speakers – we will discover the keys to this new scenario.
7.00 pm Welcome session and introduction Oscar Cortés, Vice-President of the ESADE Alumni Public Management Club
7.15 pm Taking part in the event: David Cierco, general president for information's society development from Industry Ministry
Jorge Moragas, PP Member of Parliament and political blogger (politics 2.0)
Marc Vidal, key socio-economic blogger and entrepreneur (Citizen 2.0)
Debate and questions addressed to the audience attending the event and linkup with those in the Espacio 2.0 venue, via Twitter.
8.30 pm Closing address
A glass of Spanish wine will be served to round off the event.