Transparancey is the new Democracy: Opaquely changing the way you see government! (From LEGENDmag 23)

legendmag23_1j-captions_page_441legendmag23_1j-captions_page_45 Story by Rai-mon Nemar, Photos by Trevor Traynor There is no doubt about the hours of enjoyment we’ve received from watching the inception and growth of sites like Youtube, myspace, and the myriad of other sites that provide entertainment with a dash of networking. Our way of thinking about information has been transformed along with the way we have become accustomed to delivering and receiving information. It has been said, that along with a new millennium has come a new age: The Information Age. Whether you’ve jumped on board or not, there has been a call to action for all those who thought they could live in a world without knowing how to search for a site, send an email, or connect some new hardware. The option is no longer available for 9 to 5ers who can’t navigate an office suite, for marketing people who can’t fudge their way through HTML, or for the citizens of our country to not be engaged in our democracy through the internet. What has come before this time in our engagement of politics on the internet has only been in preparation for what has arrived. New websites are part of that and it’s the promise of what they bring with their launch that holds the true potential. Transparency! Since the inception of our great republic, we have simply accepted that even if it’s only because we can’t sift through all the paperwork, there will be things that go on in our government we can’t see. Therefore, we won’t be able to take action on. Thanks to the efforts of the Sunlight Foundation this is no longer true. By their own admission, the Sunlight Foundation does it’s best to “help citizens, bloggers and journalists be their own best congressional watchdogs, by improving access to existing information and digitizing new information, as well as by creating new tools and Web sites to enable all of us to “collaborate in fostering greater transparency.” This means that from now on, you will be able to check in on your congressmen or women and know who they are accepting money from; how they voted on specific bills or if they voted at all; see how money accepted by our elected officials impacst votes; see how your tax dollars are being spent and much more. You see, what our founding fathers knew was that the press was here to be a watchdog over the government. We have always relied on the press to expose what the government wanted to keep in the dark. Whether they have done this because of the ethical responsibilities of the press or so that they could simply spite a political rival, it was always being done. Lately, it seems that the press has become part of the machine, as opposed to the observers of it. It’s no secret that the news coming from mainstream news outlets like CNN, Fox, and MSNBC are a lot less than watchdogs. If anything, they have become trained by the very government they should be helping us to understand. At the same time that our mainstream press has become more polarized then ever. There has been a lot of political talk, but not as much political analysis on the internet. By their nature, bloggers aren’t journalists in most cases, they are opinion givers. There’s no harm in this unless you have a lot of people getting their “facts” from opinion sites. What could not have been anticipated, is the way the people and organizations of the United States have responded to these new media forms. Instead of relying on the mass media or the blogosphere alone, it is once again put into the hands of the independent press to watch and hold to account our government. What we’ve been provided with are the tools to do so. We present to you, “the people’, tools for transparency, as provided by the Sunlight Foundation. Watch closely and tell your government exactly what you think. leftnav_magazinecover — Check out all the great features from LEGENDmag 23(pdf), including: ETSY: reconnecting the producer to the consumer, Blank Blank: creating objects for interior environments, a battle of presidential proportions in The Beatdown and much more.

About the Author

Rai-mon Nemar is an independent lifestyle advocate and the founder of LEGENDmag. With a background in music, coupled with more then 12 years of being an entrepreneur, Rai-mon is a forward-thinking progressive who's life work is synthesizing the independent aesthetic and creating a community for "indies". Visit his blog IndieGuy and follow him on twitter.