Pondering more about the whole F.O.I. debacle that has surfaced here in Aurora I immediately remembered a section of an essay someone pointed me to a long time ago that James Thurber wrote back in 1933. In it he wrote that his own grandmother lived the latter years of her life in the horrible suspicion that electricity was dripping all over the house.
Absurd by today’s mode of thinking isn’t it? but very real for someone whose attempt to understand a new and powerful technology was usurped by fear.
What happens if we shift the analogy from electricity to information?
Not a big leap, considering information is becoming increasingly electrified.
Professor Harlan Cleveland ( http://www.worldbusiness.org/about/academy-fellows/harlan-cleveland/
) touches on this subject by stating “information expands as it is used, It’s transportable at the speed of light. Above all, it leaks; it has an inherent tendency to leak”
This comes from a set of lectures he gave at the International Leadership Academy on “Leadership and the Information Revolution” which are available starting on page 43 of the book “Leadership and Global Governance” which is available for reading online via Google books here:
One underlying message of this lecture is that this new information era will require new types of leaders. As the people lead, so the leaders will follow.
Cleveland believes that in this new era the people – not their “leaders” – are doing the leading. Leaders no longer have a monopoly over information; and no one can be forced to be a follower.
Leaders with control issues have a huge problem with this Information Revolution for one simple reason:
Information is also difficult to control because it can be so easily spread.
After all, Information is a life form
Information is an activity.
Information is a relationship.
These are all characteristics which involve a high level of participation.
In this new Age of Participation, leaders who strive to exert control in order to maintain a leader-follower dynamic by creating a culture of fear only end up exposing themselves as unfit to lead.
Case an point being the July 13th council meeting where councilor Alison Colins-Mrakas exposed the overt an completely inapropriate tactic that the mayor has resorted to her entire term, which is to re-frame anything a councilor, member of the town staff, or public in her own words.
Wether she believes she is doing this for the benefit of “clarifiying” items for the audience, or needs to have the final word on everything is as irelevent as it is inapropriate.
The good news is that in this new age of Information Participation if people are not impressed by the quality of a leader, or the lack of information that they receive from that leader they can just go elsewhere. They simply follow the flow of information, because like a leak, information will always follow the path of least resistance.
It truly is Freedom of Information.