March 6, 2011

I’m indebted to Professor Stephen Coleman of the University of Leeds who posted a response on DoWire to a statement by the owner Steven Clift about Facebook.

Stephen argued that: “Facebook is the vogue space right now, as Myspace was before it. These things change. And, of course, in some countries (notably China and India) Facebook is not the most obvious space for government-hosted discussions.

The wider question of whether the Facebook model, based on weak ties between relatively small groups, is the best one for civic engagement is worth reflecting upon. Given the homophilic nature of most online discussion, and the heterophilic nature of democratic citizenship, friends’ networks might not be the most promising avenue for civic deliberation.”

This has to be one of the better rationales for government not to getting too hung up over any particular social medium as a method of engaging citizens. Apart from the fact that the social media are in a constant state of flux, they are largely there for people with similar opinions, so one instance of anti-government propaganda is likely to result in a deluge!

As a fan of the American poet Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem ‘Howl’, I found this You Tube video on social media amusing. It may be to others?

What’s the use of benchmarks…

May 4, 2010

The full title of this would be – “what’s the use of benchmarks if you don’t change anything?” This is stimulated by a post by Steven Clift on his newswire in response to the latest Pew Internet results.

Steve asks questions about the result to a Pew question, which is:

“Overall, when you have a question, problem, or task that requires contact with your local, state or federal government, which method of contact do you prefer most?…Calling on the phone, visiting in person, writing a letter, visiting a website, sending email [ Q.14 ]

Today              –                         Aug 2003

35% Calling on the phone – 38%

20% Visiting in person – 15%

11% Writing a letter – 15%

10% Visiting a website – 17%

18% Sending email – 9%

1% Some other way (Vol.) – 1%

4% Never contact government (Vol.) – 4%

1% Don’t know – 1%

*% Refused

Note from seven years ago that the most preferred way to contact government has sending an e-mail up 8% and visiting a web site down 7%. Very interesting. So for those governments and elected officials who have deleted their e-mail address from their website and replaced it with only a web form, please take note. Also interesting is a 5% increase in those who prefer to visit government in-person. Must be the free coffee.”

The issue I see with the Pew Internet results is that whilst they show the channel shift, they don’t help to explain it. They show usage of the web site dropping, whilst face-to-face and email increase. Without satisfaction ratings to reinforce the data, I’d assume that this was as a result of web site delivery failure and citizens falling back on email and face-to-face to get a service completed. But, that can only ever be an assumption without some data to support it.

The figures shown are for the USA, which I personally find quite shocking if UK e-government is modelled on that, it potentially shows a near-complete failure of e-government with a drift away from web to existing channels. Email might as well be face-to-face, it requires a lot of manual handling.

I suspect the US need to consider something like the Socitm Customer Access Improvement Service or one of the other channel comparison systems I list in my Company table V8.