Usenet and the Proactive Ombudsman

Usenet and the Proactive Ombudsman

A. P.G. can Meeteren (Vereniging Internetgesprek, The Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch243
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Abstract

There is hardly any interest in Usenet in governmental circles at the moment. That is not surprising, given that the government’s task is to organize society, while for Usenet, spontaneity is extremely important. However, it is still worth investigating whether government and Usenet can grow toward one another. Usenet can become a “public city park” of the Internet, as suggested by Stewart, Gil-Equi, and Pileggi (2004). They overlook this possibility, although Usenet meets a number of the basic conditions. It is an open, non-purposive space and “provides a place where different people cross paths, without necessarily interacting all the time” (Stewart, 2005, p. 356). The conversations in that city park can contribute to democratic decision-making or to administrative objectives, if they lead to anything. A system of order imposed from above will be suffocating. This article outlines a method of ensuring that those conversations are given a focus. Government itself can then ensure that Usenet conversations have a focus by providing and collecting information, while respecting other users, as an ordinary user.

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