Such is the nature of policy-making in 2017: 140-character missives that defend, dismiss, or declare the state of political affairs. For good or ill, there is no denying that social media has transformed the policy-making process. The potential of social media to benefit democracies are profound: it creates unprecedented opportunities for governments to report on their inner workings, as well as the possibility for updates with greater frequency and in more accessible terms than pre-Information Age press releases and policy documents.
Yet questions remain: is social media helping or harming the policy-making process as a whole, and the health of our democracies themselves? Do self-reported social media declarations about policy-making -- by the policy-makers themselves – indeed equate to greater transparency? Has the casual nature of social media conversations made government more understandable to the people, or simply diminished the quality of our civic discourse? And perhaps most importantly, are our citizens ultimately better informed and more civically engaged as a result of social media-mediated policy-making? Or are Twitter feeds and selfies simply fostering a dumbed-down and distracted democracy, ever less capable of focusing on the substantive work at hand?
This open lecture by Dr. Alexis Wichowski, Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, will explore these questions, examining both the potentials and perils of policy-making in the social media era.
Columbia University School of International & Public Affairs
Wichowski is a public servant, teacher, and writer. She works as an adjunct assistant professor in Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, teaching in the Technology, Media, and Communications specialization. She is also Press Secretary and Senior Advisor to the Commissioner at New York City’s newly-created Department of Veterans’ Services, providing support to the City’s half million veterans and their families. She has previously served New York City as a Disaster Relief Field Responder, before and during 9/11.
Previous government work includes Program Officer for the US Department of State’s Office of eDiplomacy, Diplomatic Innovation Division under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and, most recently, Director of Media Analysis & Strategy at the Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations under Amassadors Susan Rice, Joseph Torsella, and Samantha Power. Wichowski’s awards include a Presidential Management Fellowship, two Meritorious Honor Awards, and a Fulbright-Hayes Fellowship in China. In addition to her work in government, Wichowski experience in media impact research, information architecture development, academic book indexing, web coding, theater production, foreign sitcoms, and pretzel vending.
Current courses include E-Government & Digital Diplomacy (winner of SIPA’s “Top 5 Course aAward,” selected by students out of over 200 courses), Technology, National Security & The Citizen, and a capstone project on technological authoritarianism in China. She is also a faculty contact for the campus student groups "SIPAVets" and "Digital & Cyber Group @ SIPA.” Wichowski holds a PhD in Information Science from SUNY Albany and a BA in Chinese from Connecticut College, completed in three years cum laude. She lives in Brooklyn with her family, swims / bikes / runs, and reads science fiction voraciously.