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What the PAP knows about Web 2.0

In Internet on 14/12/2011 at 6:03 am

Regularly, the government tells us it wants S’pore to a leading player in Web 2.0. Funding is supposedly there for technopreneurs (Remember this term from the dotcom days?) . And we know that the infrastructure of cables, modems and servers are being upgraded all the time.

But the government seems to forget that new media and social networks are part of Web 2.0.

Nothing illustrates this better than an article , early last week in Today, on the governing PAP’s online initiatives. What I found interesting were the comments of two PAP MPs which, incidentally, should reinforce prejudices about the PAP. But here the focus is on what their words showed S’poreans about the PAP’s thinking on Web 2.0.

We are always told that PAP MPs are allowed to think for themselves, and that they are not programmed to obey orders. Well Moulmein-Kallang GRC MP Edwin Tong implicitly said this is not true, at least as far as the Internet is concerned. He said “Not more than half a year ago, the PAP thought that this was noise – it was not relevant and this was a small proportion of people. I think that has changed. And that viewpoint change is very important to me because that means it’s a recognition that you can look into what are on the blogs and websites to get a sense of what the ground sentiment is.”

Wow, MPs were only recently given permission to use the Internet to get a feel of “ground sentiment”. So they are not allowed to think for themselves unless permission is given? In the world of Web 2.0

  • people are not supposed to be told what to think; and
  • no-one needs the permission of higher authority to do anything that is not harmful to others.

And we also learn that instant and unwelcome feedback is not welcomed by the PAP. But these are part of (and, part of, the attraction) of the world of Web 2.0.

Next, Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad (he is on PAP committee tasked to tame the Internet) told us how slow the PAP was when it comes to using Web 2.0 platforms, “The first few years were about the PAP sensing* the platforms and understanding how to use it. Now it’s really (about) how to use these platforms for political mileage and political advantage.”

Huh? Obama was using new media and social networks in 2008, three years ago and here is the PAP only now using “these platforms for political mileage and political advantage”. Waz the point of getting S’pore all wired up and connected?

 The use of “sensing” is interesting. It conveys two different mental pictures

 – a blind man feeling an object to discern its shape and feel; and

a dog sniffing an object to try to identify it. Remember dogs have bad eyesight.

Both images also convey the sense of bewilderment to the sniffer if the object is shumething that the blind man or dog have never come across before, and have nothing in the memories that they can relate the object to.

Not good ways to explain the PAP’s initial attitude towards Web 2.0 platforms. It also conveys the sense that the PAP leaders are not rational when thinking of Web 2.0.

All of which reminds me of what Thomson Reuters’ chief technology officer Andrew Jordan told the BBC last week: I used to be the CIO (chief information officer) of a business called Complinet which was an information business to the compliance industry …

The chief compliance officer sat through the demonstration for 45 minutes and said: “I understand exactly what you just said to me, but we’re probably two years away from anyone having any understanding of how valuable that is.”

They’d just come to grips with the idea that things were computerised let alone the idea that they need to collaborate using technology.

But the PAP did get one thing right. Tin Pei Ling was meant to be the PAP’s celebrity and poster material gal for the age of new media and social networks. Unfortunately for the PAP and herself, she

didn’t have a clue about Facebook privacy; and

– employed “fat fingered” Denise He as her website administrator.

What a pair of clueless airheads when it came to knowledge of new media and social networks. Well, at least, Ms Tin no longer features in the PAP’s plans for engaging the new media and social networks.

Coming back to the government’s Web 2.0 ambitions, I think it is all about creating apps and games. Fair enogh. But can these be created if the environment and attitude is all wrong? Can dolphins thrive in a concentration camp where they are used to teach conservation to the kiddies?

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  1. I do not really blame them for it. After living in their closed ivory towers for so many years, they are, in the words of Lim Swee Say, “deaf to all criticism”. The PAP has reached the point where they have constructed their own reality in which they live in while we live in ours. The two only meet during elections, when ours intrude upon theirs for about a month or so.

  2. PAP’s web campaign was spearheaded by an ex-Israeli who is now a prof at SMU. Its not a secret – his name is all over the candidates’ election dept filings.

  3. In fact PAP did realize the potential of web 2.0 earlier on and try effort to utilize it. However it soon finds out that it is in fact treading on dangerous water when it try to do so, and therefore meet constant resistance from the top echelons. It is always 1 step forward, two step backwards approach.

    Why ? Because the model of web 2.0 does not fit into the model of PAP governance. That is transparency, openness, debateness, criticism, rebuteness … It is a place to expose half-truth, lies and propaganda which are the cornerstone of PAP foundation. For every rhetorics and bullshit that PAP gives (eg GST to help the poor, increase transport hike to avoid unnecessary travel, flat affordability defined by longer period of installment, national pledge is a aspiraton, downplaying the loss of TH and GIC, Foreign Talent myth etc ), it is questioned and countered rationally and logically by intelligent netizien. The so called scale of collective intelligence and information crowdsourcing make possible by the internet platform are disrupting the foothold of PAP. The internet has no central control of information and it spreads like wild fire through aid of text , video, audio and image web service. Through internet, PAP has no longer the monopoly of information that it able to wedge control through using traditional media.

    Can PAP endorse the internet and change its ways to endorse the spirit of internet ? Your guess is as good as mine.

  4. [...] Vote for Change – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: What the PAP knows about Web 2.0 – Publichouse: 10 years on, will PAP slaughter sacred [...]

  5. It simply shows you the million dollar ministers are just a bunch of clueless airheads when it comes to technology (and housing, transport, healthcare, immigration, finance…) And when it comes to their own pay cut, it seems to go nowhere.

  6. I like the last few lines where you said : But can these be created if the environment and attitude is all wrong? Can dolphins thrive in a concentration camp where they are used to teach conservation to the kiddies?

    So true and yet MIW and RWS cannot even see it and still trying to smoke screen the public with their skewed logic.

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