Suggested Solutions for managing e-relationships between netizens and government / Part 3 B / The Strategic Initiative (The Final Chapter).

October 30, 2008

[Due to the need to reconcile different writing platforms between the teams / you may experience either paragraphing and font variations – pls adjust your view size and font accordingly]

(1) Introduction

In Part 1. We highlighted the salient historical features which were deemed operable to shape the landscape of present day blogosphere.  Suggested Solutions for managing e-relationships between netizens and government / Part 1 / Preamble



In Part 2, a detailed attempt to scale accurately the operational challenges govt is likely to encounter in its e-engagement drive was discussed. Suggested Solutions for managing e-relationships between netizens and government / Part 2 / The Challenges.




In Part 3.A, the first phase of the tactical recommendations, we refer to as “the foundation” was forwarded. As the term implies, this is the preparatory stage and the emphasis is on “what must be done first” 3.A is designed primarily to address the short ranged theatre. Suggested Solutions for managing e-relationships between netizens and government / Part 3 A / The Foundation.


In Part 3.B which is the concluding chapter of this quartology – we will attempt to propose a series of strategic rationales and underpinnings to bridge the divide between the online community and govt; note; these are not specific “what to do” recommendations; we have remitted ourselves to only, “what should be the rationale of guiding the doing and why?” along with supplying their rationale and underpinnings. One reason why we have deliberately omitted specifics is because we are dealing with long ranged issues which usually have a long gestation period (3-5 years) and many of the attributions targeted for change reside deep within the systematic framework of govt. Given the complexity of this task the specifics would be better fleshed out by govt planners to take into account changes and the possibility of intervening events.




Our goal in this segment is three fold:




  Identify the key operable assumptions that will set the direction and focus of the strategy.




  Supply the rationale as to why we need to use a governing philosophy to effect these strategic changes.




 Identify the rough outline of the strategic assets we need to build and how are we going to couple this to the governing philosophy to create a total solution to manage change.




(2) What Is The Overall Goal?


At this juncture, it would serve our mission immeasurably, if we reiterated our goal again.

In part 2, we mentioned the goal of e-engagement should ideally be to craft a strategy to migrate from the current state of mutual mistrust to a constructive and cooperative relationship – to one that manages to fulfill the aspirations of the govt for stability and security, yet preserve the autonomy and independence of the blogging community




(3) What Is The Conceptual Difference Between 3.A (Tactical) and 3.B (Strategic)?



Please note 3.A (the last part) relates specifically to the tactical theatre of e-relations between govt and the online community, albeit with only one strategic recommendation.

These are designed to address the short ranged and supposed to operate ONLY at point level i.e minimal need for intra executive coordination or top down supervision. They are designed to deescalate conflict between govt and netizens at point level and remove many incentives with a view of managing conflict.

3.A recommendations are rated as “good to go.” They can enable speedily, cheaply with minimal executive supervision and if these recommendations are followed. They will produce measurable results almost immediately – here the horizon of predictability is very high / uncertainty low / complexity fair to low.

In 3.B the plans are long ranged, they frequently require extensive intra legislative and executive makeovers. If 3.A is a “point solution,” 3.B offers a “total solution.” The goal is to penetrate deep down to the institutionalized and systematic substrate of govt to effect transformational change.

Here the level of complexity is adjudged to be high to very high / and the level of intra executive coordination extensive / the execution complex as there is a need to deal with the politics of change / implementation should only be restricted to only senior servants with the relevant experience in change management / implementation should be stage and approval for restricted to the highest level of authority; cabinet and executive level / gestation period is expected to be 1 year and beyond / no immediate results can be realistically expected during the short term.



(4) What Are Our Strategic Assumptions?


Here the focus is on scalability i.e we need to size up what we are up against. Bear in mind, in scaling changeability, we have deployed three metrics; the cost of change / the penalties incurred during change / and the payout from pursuing the proposed changes / all three metrics would have to score a media of 7.5 index points to pre- qualify.


This leads us to consider why do we need to scale what can and cannot be effectively changed? The answer is simple; not everything can be changed. It is conceivable even govt attributes which should be changed cannot be changed, not rationally at least. As the expected payout may be low, cost exorbitantly high and proposed changes may even ripple to generate other problems downstream.


When we speak of change in the context of govt, one overriding constraint that must be appreciated is many of the attributions which need to be changed require either re-orientating their focus or realigning their trajectory at a very deep and institutionalized level of govt operations – they will have far reaching effects and there is a need to mitigate these impacts to good effect.


Here it is conceivable many of these entrenched characteristics within Govt are too:


  Resistant To Change; they may not be malleable or elastic enough to lend themselves easily to transformation change e.g the notion that the press has to play the strategic role of nation building and it should not assume the role of the fourth estate / this position is unlikely to change.


  Complex To Change; the attributes to be changed may be too intricately fused with existing legislative and executive frameworks which renders the whole idea of change impractical e.g we can very well issue an advisory that govt should jettisons the idea of hard power and buy wholesale into soft power as a strategic precondition; as this will facilitate them to better manage the relationship with the online community. However, since the persona, footprint and characterization of what makes up govt differs from the definitional terms of reference when compared to regimes in EU and the US where the legislative, executive and judiciary is clearly delineated to make this a workable plan / in the case of Singapore based on our modeling, these intra-legislative, executive and judicial linkages and networks are so inextricably fused to the idea of govt of the day. They are rightly or wrongly often  perceived to be one of the same reality / in such a case, even if govt buys into the idea of soft power. They are unlikely to be able to use it to good effect.


  Culturally Rooted; this hardly requires any elaboration; form usually follows function for very compelling reasons; this is suggestive there’s an underlying logic why ALL oligarchies without exception assume a particular shape and form. Usually this orientating is to allow them to make the best use of opportunities and resources under a given set of conditions; tradition and culture plays a preponderant role in fossilizing these practices. In almost every single case; the culture of  doing things in certain way or a way of making sense of the world is deeply embedded to such an extent it militates against the whole idea of change: e.g pursuing financially crippling defamation and libel cases is a very effective way of stymieing the competition / given enough time, the practice is even able to mythologize its set of rationales and reasons to legitimize it’s locus – this in turn shapes the structural form and inures the culture to function to serve the form. In our assessment these hard points beyond any hope of rehabilitation should NEVER engaged under any circumstances. e.g In conducting our trade off and cost benefit calculations, we came to the conclusion, it may not be a good idea to change for instance the Strait Times. It’s conceivable many of the human attributions, networks and linkages which makes up the ST is so riven with complacency and lack of imagination that it is cannot be rationally  expected to play the role of the fourth estate even if it were given a limitless latitude to do so – what is likely to emerge instead is tabloidnism. Another reason why we don’t believe the ST should be changed is it currently fulfills the very important function of nation building role. This is a role that best complements its limited range of skills. We believe this role is vital  to preserve social and political stability. Neither do we believe the ST should indulge in reportage, exhaustive analysis and investigative journalism. Instead, their remit should be further focussed to simply capture events as they happen with a high level of fidelity and accuracy. Any attempt to depart from this recommendation may further exacerbate events in the online community and confuse readers in the real world / blogging and the MSM should be clearly delienated / Under such circumstances while “change” can easily be justified under philosophical or ideological grounds; this does not fulfill the parameters of what we consider to be “good” change; in this case ideological based change e.g greater democratization of the press, may not be able to produce the “good” index to supervene the existing “good.” – as our methodology remains terminally blind to such considerations, since it is premised on a game theory quantitative footing.


  Some Things Just Cannot Be Changed e.g Fear cannot be realistically eliminated or eradicated as it operates deep within the substrate of the social engram; its corrosive effects can however be mitigated and minimized through pursuing a strategy of containment – see examples of tactical proposals in 3.A. Till to date we have found neither a means to effectively deconstruct fear or eradicate it. This part of our research has been a complete failure.


        Change May Not Produce The Desired Results, if the expectation is conflated; It is not realistic to expect a high level of cooperatism between bloggers and govt in the short term; Govt may have to re-evaluate their assumptions; the best they can hope to do is agree to disagree; in the long term we have not conducted any studies on this area.


        Unnecessary to Change, one of our most curious findings in Part 2 & 3.A which we noted was the best way to influence the social narrative in the internet is still through the traditional apparatus of news dissemination e.g newspapers, radio and TV / as we have already mentioned extensively in Part 2, one of the factors  which militates against govt in its e-engagement drive is the complete lack of a confluence or meeting point / here the Urbana team noted AIMs may have inadvertently miscalculated when the assumed since in the EU and US political parties are migrating online to reach out to new online adherents; the internet must be some sort of wonder weapon; AIMs may have discounted one compelling reason for these western political parties for doing so; they don’t have the means to effect change through the MSM as most of them are independent and controlled by businesses run along partisan lines; in Singapore, the competitive matrix is weighted in favor of the government; here not only do they have a competitive advantage as the MSM is state run. But even the supporting networks and linkages are under their direct control e.g regulatory agencies; this raises serious doubts about govt’s on going plan to project online / Projecting online also raises a host of problems: where is the best locale to project online to cover the widest possible footprint? Set against this overriding constraint (since no such public square or confluence point exist online as the internet has balkanized into the long tail see Part 1 and 2), it suggest govt may not even be able to get their message across effectively online should they even project online – this would only lead to a diffusion of energy and wastage. What needs to be underscored is presently nearly 80% of the internet still imports material from the MSM and this trend is unlikely to abate; though proponents continue to claim the internet will somehow overtake the MSM one day; what remains telling is they forward nothing in the way of reason to explain how this might happen; based on our conservative assessment; we do not consider the internet in Singapore to be overriding force; it is would not be exaggeration to state it is simply an ingenuous platform to circulate news and its cumulative effect is equivalent to a kid circulating news on a tricycle. Against those realities; what is the impetus for change?


(5) If So Many Things In Govt Cannot Be Changed, Then What Is The Use Of Recommending A Strategic Plan For Change?


This is why we are NOT recommending a host of specific strategic “to do” plans as much as laying out the philosophical premise to effect many of these changes. This is one way of getting around the hubris.


We believe a philosophical basis for premising change will be able to work better since it sets the directional and not instructional focus; this will provision a lot of scope for improvisation to get around hard points.


This will ensure constancy and pin sharp focus of the strategic initiatives will be maintained.


The purpose of the governing philosophy is to:


        Vision: Set the directional and NOT instructional focus i.e this is where we are going to go – this will be the backbone of your strategic initiative as it will supply it with not only the ethos but set the tone for where we want to go.


        Mission: Instill a high level of discipline and constancy i.e this is what we need to do, to get there in being able to work towards the goal / this is especially important to for clarifying the roles and goals of stakeholders who may be the agents of change.


        Feed Back: Ensure a high level of clarity and a clear line of sight i.e this is what everyone must be able to do, if we are to succeed  between what is done and to benchmark performance and results / this will be important since at strategy stage many of the goals will be divided into smaller milestones / to prevent teams from getting disorientated – they must have a clear mission and vision.


(6) A brief Recap and history of the net – to get a general feel of why we even need a governing philosophy to manage change – where are we now in the net and where do we want to migrate too?


Before walking through the various set pieces of how we identified the governing philosophy.


It may be a good idea at this point to revisit the main motifs which has traditionally featured in the medley between govt and the blogging community. This will enable you to appraise where we are in the competitive quadrant along with the relative strengths and weaknesses which feature in this quadrant.


For brevity sake we will attempt to coalescence many of our Part 1 (before) / Part 2 (during) and Part 3.A (after) observations to hopefully create one reflective narrative that will hopefully give you the reader a general feel of the key issues and how they might relate to the whole idea of how it fits into the general idea of a governing philosophy.  


There are many places to begin this walk through, but a good place to start would be to ask why is govt so stricken by its inability to close the divide with netizens?


Here we can say many things. Whatever, the reason accounting for govt ineptitude, one thing remains certain it can’t be for want of opportunity or resources as govt controls virtually every aspect of the apparatus of mass assimilation.


Despite the overwhelming advantage in media assets; govt has not been able to prosper in the digital world. Neither has been able to secure a digital beach head to sensibly deal with the blogging hubris.


A bewildering array of strategies have been trained; some have attempted to modulate the attribution of the internet through STOMP, RazorTV and even promoting kosher blogs which govt considers to be “acceptable” models. Presumably in the hope of driving out the bad currency in the net and changing the anti establishment tone, but it seems the more govt endeavors. The more ground they lose – more and more people it seems these days get their news from computers and its not even from those sites which govt traditionally considers role model sites e.g the brotherhood press and this breeds a melancholy sense the trite govt message simply isn’t getting through – they have failed.


Then there are the embarrassments; the Mr Brown and Mas Selamat debacle. Along with a plethora of “out reach” programs which can only described as bizarre based on try anything and everything in the hope that something will work, like rapping and break dancing. Time and again these efforts fail to hit the mark as while they manage to capture some semblance of the form, since they are rarely complimented with the content. They frequently come across as insincere and contrite.


The latest initiative to reach out to bloggers is the AIMs project which has been tasked to study and make recommendations to govt to improve internet attributions. While it’s certainly an interesting idea govt may do well to first separate the theory and reality of e-engagement and ask themselves whether even that may not be a bridge too far?


Actuality suggest govt may already be too late. This may come as a rude surprise to many who believe, they can draw an imaginary longitudal line to define the start date of engaging the on-line community. In truth, e-engagement may have already begun a very long time ago. Perhaps even as far back to the moment when the internet first appeared to shape the social political narrative. What else can possibly account for many of the widely held views concerning the govt online? Along with its ability to forward a counter narrative to even hold its own against the onslaught of the MSM?  


All this suggest before govt decides to project online they should seriously consider what accounts for their strategic deficits? What lies at the root of the anatomy of ineptitude? Otherwise there is a real likelihood all their initiatives like their previous forays would simply amount to a grande exercise in reinforcing failure.


As we mentioned earlier, the deficits are considerable and anyone wishing to debate them must be ready to argue all night and well into the next month; it gives us no pleasure to draw out these shortcomings (and we can really spend 20 pages here), neither are we deliberately bent on causing intellectual offence. If anything, this simply underscores our approach from the inception; that before real progress can be made; we would first need to scale these deficits within govt accurately and honestly if we are to even begin to craft a sensible way of getting on top of them.


How to do we propose to get on top of it? This leads us the consideration of the rough outline of the strategic framework than we hope to marry with the governing philosophy.


(7) What Strategic Assets Does Govt Need To Build?


In this part we will discuss very briefly the rough online of what strategic assets govt needs to build, if they are to get on top of the internet hubris? Bear in mind again, these are NOT specific “to do” strategies. As the remain very wide and general sweeps which are designed to convey the directional focus. 


-Directional clarity; “If we don’t even what the game demands of us; then how can we even begin to develop the skills to play it well?””


One observation that has been often noted by both teams (two competing teams are always required in game theory modeling; as one team is the proponent and the other assumes the role of the opponent, devils advocate) during the course of this research effort is; its conceivable govt may not even subscribe to a coherent strategy as to how to best deal with the net; a large part of this beliefs stems from a lack of directional focus that usually characterize govt forays into the online domain.


Currently govt appears to be managing the internet through a bewildering array of snippets, sound bites and ambiguous directives; here it is not at all unusual for even civil servants, academics and stakeholders to premise their entire plan or what they might do based on a few sentences once uttered by those at the upper echelon of the political hegemony.


While this may be a very effective way of running a food court or a massage parlor; we in the ASDF, do not consider this an adequate way to manage something as complex and mind boggling as the internet; a governing philosophy is urgently required here; at it will not only set the direction focus by clarify the roles and goals of stakeholders. But will also inure the on-going process with a high level of discipline to convergence of efforts. To close the loop to further, this should be complemented with strategic assets to inure these initiatives with a clear line of sight as to – where are we going benchmarks, thus allowing planners to sensibly check off their progress against their way points. Currently no such terms of reference exist and this not only causes confusion but often leads to a mentality of atrophy – doing nothing. We consider this a serious omission and the main reason why govt is going around in circles.

These are our recommendations; establish:


-Clear terms of engagement; “If we don’t even know the rules of the game; then how do we even play it? ”


How are govt and netizens supposed to manage conflict; if both parties don’t even know what is permissible or acceptable?


Ordinarily this ambiguity concerning “rights” and “locus” should be provisioned by the enabling act along with case law to supply both the ratio and locus. However, in the Singapore societal context, since the enabling act is structured to cover an almost limitless ambit and case law in the absence of a governing philosophy provides no legal methodology guided by text, precedent, and history to identify clearly how these elements should and should not apply to the realm of new media. It’s almost impossible for civil servants to know whether they may err or be on the side of doing the right thing; supplying a clear terms of engagement through the instrument of a governing philosophy will imbibe govt with a high level of constancy and supplement many of the deficiencies present in the legal text and precedent. As these have traditionally being shaped by events prior to the advent of the internet.


Here both teams even went as far as to suggest in the interest of clarifying the terms of engagement; a new set of enabling laws should be tabled specifically to delineate it from existing legal provisions; this would presage well to take stock of media convergence into the internet and allow stakeholders to address internet issues without having to extricate themselves from the case law of enabling acts which may not have envisaged the complexities posed by the advent of the internet.

Real world attributions such as MSM and The opening up of Hong Lim Park should be clearly separated and delienated. Currently, MSM is playing a dangerous game that threatens to escalate the level of conflict further (see Part 1 & 2 of the report) when they regularly mix real world and internet attributions. While these constructs are relatively benign when seen in isolation i.e internet anti-establishment discourse / when they are coupled with real world attributions; there is a real possibility these create new linkages and networks which will bridge the real world and online attributions very much like bridges – it is arguable whether this is good or bad; but in our findings we do not consider this to be a condition that adds stability. It is highly likely if govt fails to act fast to delienate real world and online affairs by imposing editorial restrictions of what journalist can and cannot write about internet affairs these linkages may grow stronger and what we may even see is the foreseeable future is an “overflow” that will spill out in Hong Lim Park / the danger of it going out of control is 50/50.

We strongly recommend govt imposes a moratorium restricting all journalist from commenting and writing about affairs in the internet / the ASDF has also set up an emergency response team to further study these developments.

As the head of the ASDF, Vollariane mentioned concerning these latest developments:

“When you have a philosophy, but there is no practise, then it is quite useless; but when you have practise and no governing philosophy, then it’s very dangerous. Let me explain what I mean by this; when the internet, newspapers and Hong lim Park are clearly delienated and treated as separate and independent constructs; they are relatively benign, very much in the way one separates potassium nitrate from charcoal and sulphur;nothing can really happen; but when they are combined together they assume a real and present threat which no reasonable thinking person who knows this subject well can deny; gentlemen this is precisely what we have been trying to avoid; precipitous change that we can neither predict, control or even modulate. This stupid people do not know what they are doing when they mix all this into one big pot and give it a good stir; they might as well give a baby a hand grenade to play with….it’s only a matter of time before the pin gets pulled out….this will affect our economic interest……this is no good….from this point onwards…..we must contend ourselves with the real possibility things will accelerate and even take an unpredictable turn from this point onwards. This is what happens when something as complex and dynamic as the internet is not treated with defference – it will be inadvertently weaponized and it’s only a matter of time before they lose control.”


– A Set of Terms of Reference –“If people who play the game don’t have a clear understanding of how to play the game; then eventually someone will just come along and change the rules of the game.” For govt and the online community to move forward; material must be properly classified / threats must be accurately assessed / opportunities must be scaled along cost and benefits.


However, in the absence of a clear governing philosophy complemented by strategic assets how might ordinary civil servants, academics and stakeholders be expected to perform this highly contextual, intra executive task, which is historically deemed to be impossible in the absence of a clear and unambiguous guidelines as to what is worth and not worth pursuing?


A governing philosophy will allow ordinary stakeholders to participate in the whole process of change; by adding substantively to the repository of knowledge concerning what must be done to reach the goal and what is required to be done –  since stakeholders have a clear terms of reference; they can synthesize new knowledge and this would allow their wide experience to be effectively recruited and profiled into solutions.


Here both teams severely noted; while govt may possess hard quantitative data concerning the internet e.g number of subscribers /average surfing time /sites visited etc. When it comes to the terms of reference that relates to soft data e.g  shared beliefs, values, associations, myths, taboos, lore, imperatives, customs, tradition, manners and perhaps even a way of thinking and how things should be done.


It is conceivable Govt lags behind in these areas i.e they have failed to develop core competencies in scalability/ SWOT analysis of these online attributes to good effect, one reason accounting for this grave omission is the absence of a governing philosophy which would ordinary demand timely intelligence and anecdotal and not gut feel planning skills; as a consequence govt has no capacity to forward plan intelligently.


As one of our planners noted, “we are only gamers and yet we have the wisdom to create a strategic unit to study internet trends so as to facilitate our planning function; what more of a government?” This really sums up the scale of omission from our point of view.


Unless govt seriously augments these deficits by pursuing a strategy of building core competencies in this area; they are likely to be relegated to the role of playing catch up indefinitely.


Neither would govt be able to accurately scale threats and opportunities to ensure their plans hit the mark. Both teams recommended the creation of a think tank that will serve as a advisory first stop for all government e-initiatives / this body should ideally be interfaced with the rapid response team that we recommended creating in part 3.A.


(8) What Problems did We Encounter When We Tried To Fit Our Governing Philosophy With The Strategic Assets? A Chronology of Failure and Discovery.


Now that you know the governing philosophy is really like a three pin socket that allows the strategic plug to fit the terms of references; rules of engagement and set the directional focus to power change management.


We will take you the reader back stage into the inner sanctum of the ASDF planning unit. Here we will share with you how we fused these two ideas – this will hopefully serve several important purposes; firstly, it will splay out in great detail how we derived at our findings; this segment is considered necessary; as this approach is unorthodox and adjudged to be unconventional; hence this will also allow you to assess the merits of our approach; here it is worth mentioning, not all the members of the team felt it necessary to build the strategic plans on the base of a governing philosophy; many felt the uncomfortable with the idea of a governing philosophy, as according to them, it would add another layer of complexity to the planning function. The other half of the team felt, the governing philosophy was a strategic precondition this would instill a high level of central control into the planning function and ensure directional quality.


Believe it or not most of our tool sets used here are really not so different from how we may plan a full scale invasion of a planet in the virtual; it’s essentially based on a game theory concept – since mathematical games models operates by allotting numerical values to possible choices in any given conflict of interest. It works by positing, the method of accumulating the highest total would prove the most successful strategy. It’s based on the logical assumption by running through the list of probable permutations to determine the largest quantum of correct choices under a given set of conditions – the best approach can be identified and isolated for further review by our team i.e pay out that should theoretically identify the best approach.


This will form the basis of our methodology of how we crafted out the governing philosophy.


Caveat: Though possessing an unmistakable sheen of ingenuity – what must be stressed however is game theory remains a very crude attempt to impose discipline on many of the issues which we are trying to get on top of here. It would not be an exaggeration to say, it’s a bit like using a washing machine as a concrete mixer; if anything it’s really just a lazy man’s way of winnowing copious amounts of data to seek out the best possible strategy in a very short period of time.


In short it is a primal attempt to put Darwinian natural selection on a quantitative footing and we do not pretend to represent it otherwise.


Having qualified ourselves and scared most of you (I hope that you are still around?), we will now share with you how we managed to seek out the rough outlines of our governing philosophy. We already know why we need a governing philosophy. But why is it so important to the strategic initiative? How do these two concepts fit together to make sense of what we are trying to accomplish here? This requires some elaboration as the approach is unorthodox.


Here again what you always need to bear in mind is the governing philosophy really functions like a chassis of an automobile. It’s essentially a stable platform to accommodate all the strategic elements which all adds up to make a fully functional automobile e.g the drive train, suspension, fuel system etc – if the chassis is lousy, then it affects everything and it doesn’t even matter if it’s the best engine in the world. It’s no good. So always bear this in mind; the governing philosophy sets the upper and lower control units i.e what really ties in the differing constraints, opportunities and threats of both govt and bloggers and allows the best elements in each of them to be promoted or demoted.


We discovered our model by sheer accident (not to worry, we are in very good company as most inventions seem to accord to this pattern of discovery) during one of our many comatose inducing simulation runs (using a standard off the shelf Mordecai 61 gaming prog) one team was assigned to play govt and the other, the blogging community – a fatal error input was inadvertently programmed during run 59.


Here the operator had missed out a critical code to factor in the algorithm when he was busy wolfing down a pizza and entering code, the goal here is to effectively couple many of the assumption which we have originally crafted to attempt to stabilize govt and the internet attributions.


In this cock up, the operator had unwittingly caused both models to run independently without regard to these common assumptions. This lapse was unknown to the rest of the gamers, so when they begun to play out their respective positions what they noticed was they could for the very first time plan to produce a very high level of stability in all their assumptions.


Till then every single of attempt (nearly 56 in total / if you want the data you can have it and examine the arguments using your panel of experts) to stabilize the govt and internet attributions, proved an exercise in futility, but on this occasion when both models were effectively decoupled momentarily and allowed to run their course independently, not only did the teams manage to manipulate their models to produce a high level of stability but all this could be accomplished with remarkable ease.


We did not think much about this till the following day when during one of our cycling sessions – someone said, “if the goal is model stabilization, then why don’t we do it like the way we are not supposed to do it….maybe our assumptions are wrong.”


This prompted the ASDF, to conduct a detailed study on why decoupling these two models managed to eliminate the high level of flux which previously resulted in the high incidences of instability.


The following phenomenon were discovered:


Since the program did not realize the operator had failed to couple the operating assumptions to the interrelated models during the run stage. The following phenomenon was produced, this is an extract from the failed run log 15-10-08 at 1845 hr GMT entered by the marshals.


        During 148 minutes of the simulation run both models ran mutually exclusively from each other / they were independent through out the entire span of the run / since the master alarm wasn’t programmed to alert the players to this critical malfunction / they began to input their weightings to attempt to stabilize this respective models / through out this period, the assume incorrectly (as the master alarm had failed to prompt them) the other side were entering counter values as well / the link was severed.


        From a system standpoint this meant the program did not seek out (using a hunter code) equilibrium between two changing events i.e the postulates were deactivated / this way external factors which usually influence distribution functions to generate results (such as responding to a stimulus, or solving a problem) departed from terms of reference of the original architecture, the hypothetical network of interconnected processes which would usually have been expected to be influenced by external factors was severed. Under the assumption that all processes contributing to the overall performance time are stochastically independent. The program began to relate patterns of distribution functions by manipulating postulates based on ONLY internal and not interrelated factors. Thus such questions as whether the hypothetical constituent processes in the combined architecture and whether pairs of processes are sequential or concurrent to interdependencies originally programmed were absent. This was effective in fooling the program to study and generated results valid for only stochastically non interdependent postulates. Thus ALL the selective dependence of these external components and how they may have influence the selective external influence was excluded. According to this theory each component is representable as a function of two arguments: the factor set selectively influencing ONLY internet postulates, a component-specific source of randomness was excluded and deemed inoperable.    


To be perfectly honest with all of you, none of us have the slightest idea what this ASDF report is trying to say – all we know is the operator cocked up! I guess if you gut out the gooble-dee-guck, what the ASDF is trying to say is what we were all trying to accomplish in the very beginning of this experiment was not so different from trying to balance two hyperactive kids on a park swing.


Every time, we gets child A to sit down, child B runs up and down along the opposite end of the swing. And mucks up the balance. So we have to run to the other end to get child B to sit down. We also give them incentives like sweets along with Ritalin to get them to remain still. But no sooner when we’re on the other side, child A gets up and does a runner. And this keeps going on till we are pretty much running back and forth like some silent movie character. Only to get a rough idea speed this up maybe by a factor of a few thousand times.


When the program decoupled, it’s a bit like sawing the swing in half and when that happened since each kid now has his own mini swing, we no longer need to keep running up and down. And since they no longer shared a common pivot, we don’t need to bother with what the other kid is doing on the other the swing. There was no longer any need to balance out these interdependencies. Neither was there any need to constantly seek out the optimum pivot point length along the swing arm.


To understand the crux; instead of trying to balance two kids; our solution was to separate them and treat them as separate entities thus not having to deal with the interdependencies.


This accidental finding led our team to revise many of our assumptions.


        Both govt and online attributions cannot be reconciled due to their multitude of differences.

        By decoupling, each system would have the autonomy to function independently without regard to the other.

        Since there is no need to reconcile any of these two systems their trajectory, speed and direction should does not require them to converge; here we expect them to diverge as time goes by.



(9) What We Discovered From Our Simulations – Revising Our Assumptions.


In this new reality, govt and bloggers may have to content themselves to the following assumptions:


9.1 Irreconcilable Differences;


There will always be a philosophical lag between the real world and the internet; they will always be out of synch and some of their differences may even be irreconcilable to suggest it, they will always remain difficult to bridge; this may require both govt and netizens to actively pursue peaceful co-existence instead, rather than pursuing resolution on common issues e.g by pursuing a strategy of contraction and convergence by seriously fleshing out the terms of reference and rules of engagement to manage these different standpoints e.g govt will seriously have to reconsider their “all or nothing” posturing, be it insisting “content is king” or to attempting to impose their reality on the online community e.g anonymity is perdition. If govt fails to recognize these differing philosophical realities, they may run the risk of not only reinforcing their failure. But they may even spark off a new round of non constructive arms racing; Govt may have to cede ground and consider agreeing to disagree. From a conflict management standpoint this would seem to make more sense in the long run.


9.2 Divergence vs Convergence


If assumption 8.1 holds true. Both the internet and real world attributions (Govt) will continue to diverge and not converge; this is expected to stress out current govt processes and systems even further. To manage this divergence govt may need to consider a dual track system of managing this fractured reality e.g we do not see how it is possible for govt to successfully manage the evolution of the net by resorting to its archaic set of enabling acts which did not even envisage the advent of the internet e.g Sedition Act / seriously deficiencies in existing legal text, tradition, precedent, and reason to effectively make sense of the internet reality render it almost impossible to enforce legal principles and logic expediently.. Govt may have to consider coming up with a dedicated set of internet enabling acts which can address many of the complexities of this new medium.


9.3 Lack of Controlling Elements


Govt may never be able to assert the degree of control and manage the internet as they do with real world assets; the lack of confluence points and the sheer immensity of the geography of the internet effectively cancels out the ability of the govt to crave competitive advantage even if they manage to project online – since reading is likely to assume a long tail model, readership will continue to fragmentize and balkanize to even smaller quadrants nullifying govt ability to reach all of these quadrants. Against this backdrop two factors will militate continually against govt e-relations with the online community; first the lack of predictability and secondly the inability of govt to respond speedily and decisively to online developments – to thrive in the online domain govt needs to continuously focus on change and innovation in order to make the best in dynamic environments. The ability of govt to develop and deploy processes requires that they continually seek out the fit between their processes and goals – this high level of strategic decision making requires not only a high level of knowledge about the context in which processes are defined, modified, and implemented, but it will take at least 5 years to develop such core competencies.


(10) What is the best model that best encapsulate both the governing philosophy and the Strategic Assets that should guide e-relationships between bloggers and netizens?  


Our goal here is to seek out a real life model to premise many of things that we have gleaned out from the relationship between govt and netizens. Why is a real life model necessary? Firstly, this will supply us with a doctrine of precedent that will hopefully prevent us from making costly mistakes; since we can study how plans past from the realm of theory to reality retrospectively; we can reverse engineer many of these strategic plans to decrease the risk of failure and trauma to the system.


Secondly, a real world model is the best way to explain a very complex strategic proposal which incorporates in its framework a governing philosophy; note: not every strategic initiative is featured in this unusual manner. Hence the real world model will hopefully allow you to conduct further research into your area of interest; for example; if you want to know; what’s the best way of managing the legal framework between netizens and govt? The real world model will allow you do so by examining the specifics of text, reason and precedent – in short, it provides not only a conceptual comparative but also very expedient platform to transplant learning outcomes through case studies; this will assist you immeasurably in the strategic function; that is why for ease of reference this segment leverages exclusively on the real world model to make sense of the govt and netizen hubris.


In searching for the best model which best fitted the various elements of our governing philosophy and strategic assets we hope to construct; we decided on the one country, two systems model.


In 1991, Chinese planners developed the scientific concept of “one country, two systems” to deal with the realities of having to accommodate the return of a capitalist Hong Kong back to Communist China.


The hubris, the Chinese planners were trying to wrestle with; was how can China uphold the state communist system and yet accommodate the specific conditions of a capitalist Hong Kong? A further gloss was OCTS was conceived to palliate the fear of Hong Kongers who had witnessed the 1989 Tiananmen massacre – this we considered a very important observation as it complements our primary thrust in this and preceeding sections: theme of eradicating fear – in our exhaustive search, this was the only model that addresses the issue of fear head on without attempting to side skirt it.


One way of resolving many of the ideological disputes and mistrust between mainlanders and Hong Kongers was cleverly provisioned by allowing two diametrically opposing systems to subsist under one construct. Here, we can draw parallels between what we mentioned in Part 2, when we cited philosophical differences already divide govt and netizens and its even conceivable these positions have fossilized to such a point; seeking an agreement to disagree may be more expedient than pursuing an all or nothing strategy.


OCTS deals with these philosophical divisions in the following ways, China will continue to maintain the socialist system, while the existing capitalist system and way of life in Hong Kong will remain unchanged.


Under this new model Hong Kong would be a “special administrative region” and allowed to exercise a “high degree” of autonomy for at least 50 years after reunification with China. This meant that HK could keep, among other things, its capitalist economic system and common law legal system (which was a derivate of British colonial law).



(11) Why Is The One Country, Two System (OCTS) Model Such A Good Model To Base The Relationship Between Netizens and Govt On?


In this section what we are going fit, measure and build many of the strategic attributes that we want to build on the skeletal framework of our the governing philosophy which we have identified to be OCTS – if it goes well, this will allow us to use it to manage the relationship between govt and bloggers.


How do we know OCTS is the right model? We don’t know for certain whether this is the best model anymore than the original planners who came up with the idea of OCTS knew for certain they could effectively profile it as a basis to bridge many of the social political chasm which once divided the Communist Chinese from the capitalist Hong Kongers [we seriously advice anyone considering this strategy to conduct their own due diligence on ascertaining the veracity of many of assumptions and operating logic] –


What we do know is many of the comparatives that currently characterize some of the elements which make up the rifts between the Singapore govt and netizens do mirror many of the elements which once characterize many of the problems the Chinese had to grapple with when they politically and socially engineered the handover of HK in 1997  – chronic distrust ; incompatible philosophy and ideology; demographic and cultural differences etc.


It would not be an exaggeration to say, when we superimposed many of the problems that we need to resolve between govt and netizens with the OCTS model, it was a very good fit. We have given OCTS an approval rating of 86.3% after a rigorous round of testing on many of the metrics that we developed in Part 2 & 3.A and the results are impressive: four index point short of the gold standard / our runner up was the Deutsche Wiedervereinigung (German reunification model) that managed to score only a 55.8% rating and Nut Island Effect March 2001 (HBR).


One of the unique features of OCTS is how it manages to smooth out many of the divisive divisions which once characterized mainland Chinese and Hong Kong residents. These divides were NOT reconciled in the strict axiomatic sense with the idea of contracting and converging these divergent principles. Neither was it resolved by attempting to bridge the gap by hammering out one all encompassing philosophy which was able to harmonize many of the elements which made up the divisions.


Rather it appears these differences were accommodated by creating two contextual spaces without having to promote or demote the interest of either one at the expense of another – this we consider to be jugular to fulfilling the scoping of the strategy as one of the criteria’s we have set for ourselves on the onset is to ensure, both govt and netizens will benefit from this project.


On a planning front, the OCTS model offers many of our planners a wide berth and is adjudged to be very forgiving to miscalculations. Since it’s a very malleable contextual framework this allows for plenty scope for improvisation to get around a problem which usually mires any planning function i.e the classical strategic dilemma; since strategy requires a foundation of assumptions about how people and markets will react to a given set of conditions. But what if uncertainty features to such an extent rendering predictability impossible?


Under such conditions of acute uncertainty; the OCTS model provisions plenty of options to jettison some of the originally planned options at modest loss. Another added benefit which we especially like about this model, since each construct i.e govt or bloggers is structured to function independently in a manner which is not so different from how we solved the problem of trying to balance the perpetual hubris of the swing with two kids by sawing it in half. Planners would not need to deal with the complexities of having to dovetail two strategic plans in tandem as is usually required in most strategic initiatives. Since the proposed pace of change is incremental rather than revolutionary; it provisions many fail safes to ensure the penalties for error will always be contained and mitigated.


This in no way suggest OCTS severes the linkages between Hong Kong or China or vice-versa and both are completely independent. On the contrary, the relationship is characterized by an unusual high level of interdependence – the government of the special administrative region (SAR) for example concede defense and foreign policy to the mainland government – very much in the way, most bloggers would be expected to concede that when it comes to hate, faith and racist speech all these would be better handled by government as they don’t have the expertise to deal effectively with these matters.


Why is this observation important? Because what we see here is a form of cooperatism that is based partly on the give-and-take cost benefit calculations which allows both parties to effectively conduct pay outs; this appears to be a departure from ideological based take-it-or-leave-it bargaining which is essentially an all-or-nothing, one throw of a dice destructive game – we don’t know exactly how the details of this cooperative game works, but what we can observe is a high level of interdependence is required to make the whole idea of one country and two system work.


Three aspects of OCTS was deemed to be transplantable to manage the relationship between govt and netizens:


– Firstly OCTS, was primarily designed to palliate fear of human and capital flight in HK. This makes it especially relevant as a means of continuous improvement to further deconstruct the climate of fear e.g in this case another Tianamen massacre in downtown Kowloon.


– Secondly, it’s based on a give-and-take cooperatism, which shifts the focus from ideological based change and MAD (mutual assured destruction)  e.g freedom of speech / right to protest – and proves reliable to deescalate the level of conflict between both parties.


– Thirdly, it confers a high level of autonomy both parties. Thus guaranteeing their political, economic and social independence of each other – here since a healthy balance of power is maintained (HK as a financial center) and China (with its hinterland and superior military strength). No one party is able to assert their will on another without incurring penalties.


While OCTS has been a resounding success 10 years after its implementation in the HKSAR – It’s important to recognize OCTS remains an imperfect instrument of ironing out many of the divides between Hong Kong residents and Mainland Chinese. Neither does it promise to produce a utopian state – observation suggest serious problems do persist especially where interest impinged on freedom and independence; some of these remain vexing as they relate to human rights and first amendment rights i.e universal suffrage in HKSAR and the methodology of nominating the political hegemony in HK remain divisive even till this day.


However, despite these kinks; these contentious issues are well within manageable thresholds as both parties have sufficient incentives in the game theory construct to pursue peaceful co-existence under the OCTS model. This is highly suggestive OCTS as a social political theory provides both our govt and netizens with a comprehensive basis to deescalate the arms race and gravitate towards a quadrant where they can work towards the idea of agreeing to disagreeing without running the risk of engaging in mutual assured destruction.


Since a main montage in the idea of OCTS is the antithesis no one universal narrative is able successfully the bridge the dichotomy between Communism and Capitalism anymore than any timeless and universal text is able to effective resolve many the deep divisions between bloggers and govt. Here govt would do well to consider whether they are even able to perforce their social narrative on a online community that has not only successfully held out its own against the version stamped out by the mainstream press?


At this juncture just to gain a relative strengths and weakness appraisal; it would do well for us to ask; what is the nature of these divisions we regularly see in govt and the blogging community? What’s their historicism? How entrenched are they? On what basis are they premised? And at what conditions do they operate under? Are they rooted at an entrenched and institutional level which will militate against change very much in the way communism in China isn’t a statecraft as much as it remains a way of life for most ordinary Chinese? Do many of these philosophical and ideologically rifts operate at value and belief system? Would, the cost of changing them be exorbitantly high? Can many of these divisions be even harmonized and reconciled?


The OCTS model provides many answers to some of these disturbing questions. As a model it’s expedient in so far as we don’t need to reinvent the wheel or to try out some great social experiment which doesn’t have a doctrine of precedent; here we envisage by superimposing OCTS as the model to manage the govt and blogger relationship; planners would be able to draw on plenty of case studies in not only the social political sphere; but they may also be able to look closer at how the mainland Chinese accommodated the legal and jurisprudential system posed by common law / along with perhaps scaling; issues such as dealing with the differing mindset between communist and capitalist.


This not only allows us a sensible basis to craft a workable perspective to how we might choose to frame the divide between the blogging community and govt, but it’s also suggestive this model even provides us with underpinnings as to what’s to be expected from each party – for one there must be a shift from absolute terms to one where both parties concede the merits of each system. Here truism gives way to pragmatism.


(12) Summary


As we can see, it is only through an implicit recognition that there exist more than one way to cut the cake can both bloggers and govt really move away from their entrenched antagonistic positions which has produced nothing except mutually destructive competition – the adoption of this new paradigm will presage well for both parties as at the heart of many of these proposals is a rallying cry for intellectual restraint and even the idea this lamentable state of affairs between bloggers and govt cannot continue in perpetuity.


Unless both parties can buy into this greater wisdom by denying the destructive proposition; progress can only be made if we you agree with me or buy wholesale into my beliefs.


Then it is unlikely that we would ever be able to put an end to the idea progress and war belong to the same family of continuum.


Instead if we insist vigorously on denying this, there remains the hope of a better tomorrow for us and our children. This remains the fervent hope of all of us in the brotherhood press, writers and readers alike. We wish the govt well, and hope that you take many of our barbed repartees in the spirit of chupatz. We mean well and we wish you all god speed in your endeavors. It has been a most interesting and rewarding experience and we hope you have learnt as much as us.


Finally, we would like to thank the Lady of the Lake and her esteemed associates from the very bottom of our hearts for making this research proposal possible with her kind patronage and generous grant. Her ladyship hopes;


“This proposal will add knowledge to better understand our internet so that it will always be a vibrant, free and intellectually stimulating place for Singaporeans, residents and netizens through out the world; who may wish to take an interest in the happenings in this part of blogosphere. Her hope is that this will continue to inspire the curious minds to set them thinking about making this sliver a better place to work, play and live one day for our children.”


[This report has been compiled by the ASDF, The Strategic Think Tank of the Brotherhood / with extensive collaboration with the Mercantile Interspacing Guild and our Channel Partners the Confederation of Gamers – This has been brought to you by the Free Internet Library Board Based in Primus Aldentes Prime – The brotherhood press 2008 – retrieval codex: 876238903-387873 DOBERMAN]



Dear Valued Readers,

We have received many questions from some of you, especially those from the PBK and Strangelands I & II read clubs concerning the substantive aspects of this proposals. I have to say many of the questions are indeed insightful. However, it is not possible for us to answer ALL of them. What I will do instead is pick out some questions which reflect the general sentiments of the type of questions which have been asked and I shall try to make arrangements for an interview with Vollariane, the head of the ASDF to answer many of the questions some of you have posed.

Please stay tuned.


Y2K (The Director General of the FILB)
















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