Saturday, May 21, 2011
The papers in this edition provide further testament to the international standing of Information Polity. This edition contains five papers, authored by academics from five different countries: China, Costa Rica, Slovenia, Norway, and Turkey. In the first of these Weibing Xiao argues that the expansion of ‘information pathways’ in China, brought about by the widespread and growing adoption of new media, has brought the Chinese government intomore receptivemode in terms of the adoption and acceptance of ‘freedomof information’. The necessity of releasing information during physical disasters and social and political crises has broadened to a more general acceptance that much more information can and should be made available to Chinese citizens. Citing a number of Confucian aphorisms such as ‘the common people may be made to follow, but may not be made to know’, Weibing Xiao explains the long history of State secrecy in China as a consequence of the influence of the greatest of Chinese philosophers. The movement towards Freedom of Information sat in stark opposition to a philosophical conviction that the common people are best protected from learning about issues of governance including crises. Now in the era of new media uptake, as Weibing Xiao explains, the release of information hitherto kept secret works as a necessary social corrective to what emerges as forms of ‘rumour’. Rumour, it is now argued, is potentially far more damaging to governance of the nation State than more open flows of information. Additionally, and in a more general sense, flows of information are more developed in China now both amongst citizens and between them and government. Thus there is an environment in China that is moving strongly towards the release of information rather than its secretive capture and management.