The Twilight of Transparency

Ever played Buzzword Bingo? Take a list of pre-determined buzzwords – an hour long meeting or conference call, and instant messaging in the back channel so the players can call Bingo as someone drones on about paradigms, ideation, process planning, any one of a million acronyms, especially the buzzword of the decade:

Transparency.

Transparency gets tossed around a lot in Social Media Marketing, but it really came into its own in 2001 in the wake of Enron’s catastrophic shell game, and the ensuing passage of Sarbanes Oxley. Suddenly “transparency” was the order of the day and PR firms started churning out white papers proclaiming their clients were on the forefront of the transparent movement. Definition: everything is out in the open, opposite of opaque, no murkiness, we know it/you know it.

Social media is supposed to be accelerating the trend towards transparency. Like Wal-Mart’s behind-the-scenes support of the RV couple touring the United States who just happened to park that RV in a Wal-Mart parking lot so they could meet interesting Wal-Mart employees and talk about interesting Wal-Mart stuff to the latest form of astroturfing, Monsanto’s financial backing of a supposed grass-roots organization of dairy farmers who want to continue to use bovine hormones (Posilac) to induce an extra gallon of milk from their cows in the face of a national movement toward organic milk.
The New York Times wrote this weekend:

“That same year, the Monsanto dairy unit hired Osborn & Barr to handle, among other things, the Posilac brand, according to an article in the St. Louis Business Journal.

In 2007, Monsanto and several dairy organizations met by phone to “lay the groundwork” for a grass-roots organization, according to an online dairy industry newsletter.

Afact was created in the fall of 2007. In addition to receiving money from Monsanto, Afact has received help with its Web site from Osborn & Barr, said Monty G. Miller, a Colorado consultant who was hired to organize the group …

… In the presentation, Afact also listed “integrity,” “honesty” and “transparent” [emphasis mine] as “words we wish to embody.”

They could start by being more straightforward about who is behind Afact. ”

There it is – transparent – and the Times just wrote its obituary. George Orwell is smiling up in heaven. He wrote in his 1946 essay: “Politics and the English Language:”

When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

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