Thursday, July 23, 2015

Irene S. Wu's "Forging Trust Communities"

Irene S. Wu is a senior analyst at the US Federal Communications Commission. The author of From Iron Fist to Invisible Hand: The Uneven Path of Telecommunications Reform in China, she teaches in the Communications, Culture & Technology Program at Georgetown University.

Wu applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Forging Trust Communities: How Technology Changes Politics, and reported the following:
From page 99:
In China the telecom infrastructure is built to meet millions of users’ demands; therefore, it is robust enough to deliver the government’s information and ideas. If the Internet had few users, it would be useless as a tool to survey the public mood.

Al-Jazeera’s programming engages audiences throughout the region. Therefore, Qatar has the opportunity to influence Middle East politics. People watch Al-Jazeera because it presents facts that other broadcasters have skipped, and its talk shows give voice to the previously voiceless. For Qatar, Al-Jazeera and its audience are a trust community, a source of political capital and ammunition worth as much as money or military might.
Picture a revolution today and it isn’t complete without young activists waving their phones in the air – snapping photos, videoing police brutality, Facebooking and Tweeting and networking with the world. It is easy to forget that governments are vigorously doing the same, perhaps not as fleetly, but often with more capital and skill at their easy disposal. Page 99 of the book falls at the end of the discussion of these government efforts. The chatter online in China is one way for the government to hear what the people are thinking and prepare it to respond better to their demands. Al-Jazeera not only keeps audiences up to date on the latest happenings, it raises the profile of the Qatar government. In both cases these governments are using technology to reach out into the world, to establish their reputation, to assess how they are perceived, and to adapt accordingly. They are widening their “trust communities” of the book title to better position themselves for the next event.

Take a look at the book for more on 20 cases from both the activist and government perspectives, with practical suggestions for both.
Learn more about Forging Trust Communities at the the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue