An inaccessible world?

December 14, 2010

Following up on a number of other posts I’ve made regarding website accessibility I’d  like to offer some research by Joanne Kuzma* of the University of Worcester which has been made available through epractice.eu. The paper entitled Global E-government Web Accessibility: A Case Study emphasises why even here in the UK we cannot lie back on our accessibility laurels, since we still make basic mistakes.

One of the key errors is the lack of a text equivalent against graphics on web sites whichI must identify on a regular basis on numerous web sites, the owners of which should know better, especially when it’s easily corrected.

* I had the pleasure of meeting Joanne at ECEG 2009 where we were both presenting papers


Governing electronically

July 13, 2010

I met Dr Paul Henman at ECEG 2009 where we were both delivering presentations. At the time Paul mentioned he had a book due for publication, so having heard his presentation and finding the subject matter dear to my researching heart, I ordered a copy through my university library as soon as it was published. It finally arrived at the start of June!

The book is entitled Governing Electronically: E-government and the reconfiguration of public administration, policy and power and is published by Palgrave Macmillan. It’s priced at £57.50 for 288 pages, so I recommend ordering through a library, as I did!

If you look at Paul’s link you’ll realise that he is Australian and so the case studies employed in the book are around Australian government. Paul is also a sociologist and a teacher of social policy but has degrees in mathematics and computer science, so not the average sociologist and can cover the broader topic with more than sufficient understanding.

The paper Paul presented at ECEG 2009 was entitled “The Contribution of e-Government to the “New Conditionality” in Social Policy” and this book is a broader exploration of the topic. Conditionality is a concept from international aid where aid is supplied to a government subject to that government changing its policies or instituting reforms. In the “new conditionality” it can be seen as requiring a change in conduct and this can be applied to individual citizens and their families, as well as whole countries.

One of the many interesting issues raised is how technology has facilitated frequent and rapid changes in government policy, along with increasing the volume of primary legislation, all only deliverable thanks to the power of computers.

Henman also observes that rather than moving users from the old channels to the new ones, the total numbers of contacts have actually increased, facilitated by the ease of contact provided by the contact centers, web sites and other media.

In considering the role of conditionality and politics one wonders what role technology might play in the new UK government. Are they truly going to back away from the social control provided by technology and ‘big government’, when the new conditionality permits such centralised power? Can we see a slimmer legal framework supported by less technology, and obviously costing much less? I’m not sure, but time will tell…

Coincidentally I’ve been asked to join the committee for ECEG 2011, which is at the University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia. There is a call for papers on the website.


New blogger on the street

July 29, 2009

As a member of the Local CIO Council I know John Suffolk, Her Majesty’s Government’s Chief Information Officer and the person responsible for the existence of the Local CIO Council. However, it took Public Sector Forums to advise me of his new blog. As I should have already written, I’d met and spoken to John in July at ECEG 2009 before he’d opened the second day with a presentation about the future of e-government. In the blog John develops upon the presentation he gave, along with the goings on at the CIO Council.

It also informs me of what I’d missed at the last CIO meeting, since being ‘down south’ for the conference I needed to get back to work and couldn’t attend. It was apparently regaled by  Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt assisting thoughts on the way forward for government IT and e-government, so I look forward to the next meeting of the council, along with the up and coming entries on John’s blog.

A single criticism, as if I’d dare, but where are the mentions of multi-channel operation, citizens, metrics – those little things that have been swept under the e-government carpet for the last ten years?

I’ve added it to my blogroll, anyway!