December 1, 2012

As warned, I’ve been building another blog! This time it’s using Posterous and it’s entitled ‘Phlotsam‘. The Great E-mancipator has run since December 2007 and was largely around e-government. It’s had a few visitors and helped distribute some useful information at a time when we were still having dogma thrust down our throats (not that we aren’t anymore).

Phlotsam‘ is intended to pick up some of those wider topics that I have occasionally drifted into such as the environment, managing and experiencing nature reserves, volunteering in a range of non-academic roles, and philosophy (political, ethical and social). I’ll probably link it back to here, so the crossover is likely to get complicated and confusing – but lets see where that road goes…


February 11, 2012

Since I’m now preparing to leave my job, having placed my head on the block of voluntary redundancy*, I need to tidy my life. Having worked for my current employer for a long time I have accumulated a lot of paper but regular office moves have ensured that this has been reduced occasionally; however I can’t say the same for my Inbox. As fast as I’ve unsubscribed from spam email I find others are spamming me and it became quicker to delete rather than ask to unsubscribe.

Now, I feel I have to unsubscribe to leave my remaining colleagues with as little crud as possible to dig through, so am actively unsubscribing, and what a pain it is. First, find the reference to ‘unsubscribe’ in the email – they can be anywhere, frequently displayed in some ludicrously small font and near invisible colour, if it’s there at all. Then, click on the link and, if it works, try and work out the different options so one doesn’t end up subscribing to even more spam email.

Now I don’t always mind ‘cold calls’, and I don’t always object to spam emails – frequently a new product or service that may be of use one day but what I do object to is the difficulty one has to go through to get them to cease and desist. I’m just glad I started this project in early January so that I might have it all done by 31 March 2012…

* any offers of employment gratefully received, my CV and contact details can be found on the About Me page


April 14, 2011

This blog actually started in December 2007 when the first post was published all about NI14 (has everybody forgotten about ‘avoidable contact’ now?), my first questionnaire was actually (and importantly) posted on the 14th April 2008. The date was chosen since it was the anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, perhaps not something to rejoice over but it was a memorable date and  he was known as the Great Emancipator! Get it? He issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 which freed the slaves in those States not in Union control – I recently had to explain to non-English speakers what emancipation is , it’s not a common term these days, but emancipation is all about freeing the object from whatever form of bondage it is subject to. 

The term Great Emancipator was abused not long after that when it was used to promote the newly developed sewing machine as the liberator of womankind! No one obviously thought about the sweatshops that were to follow.

Listening one day to Gillian Welch and her song April the 14th Part 1, it occurred to me that e-government was envisaged as a similar emancipator to the sewing machine but not as the Great Emancipator, hence I called the blog The Great E-mancipator.

It’s three years on since that first questionnaire. I submitted my PhD dissertation in July 2010. I successfully defended the thesis at viva in September 2010. However a few changes were requested, which delayed the signing off, however these were recently accepted…so happy anniversary to my research, the PhD may be finished but the blog will continue.

2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 8,000 times in 2010. That’s about 19 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 133 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 347 posts. There were 3 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 805kb.

The busiest day of the year was January 6th with 191 views. The most popular post that day was Social Media Analytics.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were WordPress Dashboard,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for the great emancipator, great emancipator, ni14, mick phythian, and conceptual framework model.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Social Media Analytics January 2010


Introduction December 2007


About me January 2008


The Great Emancipator January 2008


Council web costs August 2010

Lost in Spain

April 19, 2010

Following the Ethicomp 2010 conference which was a splendid a splendid success, the author like many other delegates is stuck in Spain. There is lots to repeat from the two inch thick conference proceedings, but I can’t do it all on my netbook wandering from hotel to transport operators. So watch this space…I’ll be back shortly


March 1, 2010

No, not the ancient TV serial or the little sixties ditty by Cream, were talking about a multi-country EU project on “A Participative Roadmap for ICT Research in Electronic Governance and Policy Modelling.”

On the 17th February 2010 I legged it away from the office to see a presentation at York University by Ann Macintosh, the Professor of Digital Governance at Leeds University. It was an interesting 40 minutes, where I scribbled lots of notes, one of them being the above project, which she is running one strand of. The project is entitled IMPACT or “Integrated network for policy making using argument modelling & computer assisted text analysis.” I can’t seem to get the letters to tie up with the acronym, so one or the other may be wrong! The actual bit Ann is focused on is around argument analysis, tracking and visualisation. It only started on the 1 January, so don’t expect massive announcements yet but the idea is to pick up feedback from social and other media towards assisting the development of government policy.

Ann admitted that her background was as an engineer, and that she was employing her knowledge of artificial intelligence, first with e-petitions in Scotland, and now using more advanced tools for the EU.

being a philosophical term, so well used by my hero Immanuel Kant, for a contradiction.AntinomyShe and some of the audience appeared to agree with my observation that politicians in representative democracies were unlikely, in reality, to relinquish power to the citizens and encourage direct or deliberative democracy. So, all the talk of e-democracy that has appeared over the years in e-government literature is, in the immortal words of Joe Hill, little more than pie in the sky. In my academic work I have labelled this one of the antinomies of e-government.

As the Swiss and Swedish have demonstrated technology is not a requisite for more direct forms of democracy, but political willingness and constitutions may be!

Looking East

December 13, 2009

Amongst my colleagues within the Information Society Doctoral Programme at De Montfort Universityare a fair few from the Middle East and North Africa, so I’m reasonably au-fait with elecronic government in that region.

According to the media, a recent report from Booz & Company encourages those countries to follow the customer-centric approach finally becoming acceptable in other parts of the world including the USA, Europe and Australia, although I believe its been there a little longer in other Asian countries, where the culture was different. I couldn’t find the actual report anywhere on the Booz websites but the press report covers a lot.