E-egg on government face?

August 8, 2010

Patrick Wintour reported in The Guardian (2 August 2010) on the “Coalition’s first crowdsourcing attempt fails to alter Whitehall line” and Chris Williams in The Register (3 August 2010) noted that “UK.gov smiles and nods at commentards”. Both these pieces pick up on the fact that nothing is apparently changing at Whitehall despite the coalitions stated aims to crowdsource ideas for savings.

The Guardian writer claims the receipt of 9,500 suggestions online and quotes the director of Involve as saying that “badly designed consultations like this are worse than no consultations at all”. Something I’ve long suggested along with the practice that if one consults, one must then make some changes in deference to the feedback, and do it pretty quickly and in direct response to the concerns. If one is unable to alter matters, it’s then necessary to say why.

In my experience there are various types of “consultation”. There are ones like this where it just asks for ideas and then apparently the questioning body picks the ones that most align with existing policy and praises them and the proposers. There are the other type where the questions are so tightly directed that the respondent can only directly support the policy being proposed to a greater or lesser extent. These are crowdsourcing in a representative democracy.

To ask open questions, gain open answers and change society one needs a truly deliberative democracy but will turkeys vote for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I don’t think so…


E-election mania

May 9, 2010

Now that all the frenzy has started to dissipate (I hope), it’s time to look back and consider the role of the Internet and social media, if there ever was one in reality. PublicTechnology.net were pretty quick off the mark saying that it hadn’t happened as expected largely because the electorate weren’t ready for it.

Personally I enjoyed a few moments on YouTube where idle cynics had made light of different politicians capacity to speak the truth by dubbing words and songs onto their videos. I’m sure many more people did this and suspect that it still had an influence. Perhaps where the difference with the US is, is that we don’t have the ability to actually broadcast this type of stuff on the TV, perhaps the result might have been different if we did?

Jon Snow in the Times seems to agree with me about the media driving the politicians and not the other way around, if we are to try and compare with the USA. One newly elected MP, Elizabeth Truss, writing in the Guardian  doesn’t fully agree and can see an opening for the Internet in politics.

Perhaps this is where the difference with the US comes in. The national media were driving it as a race for the presidency, which the local media followed to some extent. However in the UK we are supposed to be electing a local representative, who may then have an influence in creating a Prime Minister.

Who knows? With the large batch of new MP’s perhaps there will be some big changes in elections and channel usage? I even heard calls for e-voting as a result of the problems at some polling stations. I just pray they come up with something more fool-proof than the postal voting system, which can be a nightmare to manage!

Now, if we all had biometric ID cards…


Staring across the pond

April 7, 2010

On Federal News Radio (1500 AM) on the 17 March 2010 was a report on the US federal Chief Information Officer’s (Vivek Kundra) new approach. A lot of what is stated resonates with my research in the UK, along with what I hear on a daily basis. 

There is a big investment in IT in Kundra’s department, $35 million, which is apparently more than it got over the last seven years in total! It looks like it’s a focused spend on making those citizen services that will be used electronically to be made so.

There is also a move against silos, with data consolidation and cloud computing being high on the agenda, along with the piloting of various and increasing the number of datasets on open.gov to more than 250,000.

As has been stated, our own newly laid out Government IT Strategy is not very far off the US one, but what will be interesting on both sides of the Atlantic is how those silos will be broken down, since both accept that “webifying” silos is wasted money.

This also runs very parallel with Michael Cross’s latest piece in the Guardian which also strongly resonates with the sentiments I have frequently and quite recently expressed in posts here. Unfortunately, after years of spending, the Treasury want some money back, and whilst central government will probably continue to swallow large quantities of cash (no matter which government gets in) local authorities will be scratching around, now that the e-government cash has gone.


Measuring social media

December 23, 2009

A long time ago, in social media terms, the Guardian published a piece about the 1% rule (Guardian 20 July 2006). The piece was picked up in a recent http://europa-eu-audience.typepad.com/ entry entitled “What is the 0.9% rule?” These were all to do with how much comment is made upon Inernet posts and what standard vale can be placed upon this. The Europa-eu piece also picked up a recent David Berkowitz post  on MediaPost entitled “100 Ways to Measure Social Media“.

In my own paper, accepted for Ethicomp 2010, that I’m currently completing, I’ve considered a few of the simple metrics I’ve employed to keep track of my own research blog. I certainly wouldn’t have time to record a hundred or anywhere near that! But perhaps they may provide some experimental data for someone with time on their hands, which I don’t currently. We do need to consider whether time invested in the social media is worth it and whether it can become anymore than ‘vanity’ publishing.


E-government – back in the news?

November 22, 2009

On Thursday 19 November 2009 The Guardian’s Michael Cross published a piece entitled “It’s now time for e-government policy to take the spotlight.”

In his usual charming manner Michael highlights the ignorance of one minister just three years ago, but concludes that 13 years on from the Conservative Green Paper, something might finally happen. I suspect that 13 years is still too soon and Micahel is being optimistic, but what is the cause of his optimism? It’s the EU Ministerial Conference in Malmo, Sweden. For the UK, Bill McCluggage, John Suffolk’s deputy was talking about “A Future that is Efficient, Sustainable and Responsible.”

Andrea di Maio picks up the latest declatation on his blog and does his usual thorough analysis and ends up slightly confused as to where it stands with Gov 2.0, although I suspect for the UK this probably takes on the observation by Michael Cross as to which way we go next year after the election – there are, of course, at least two choices, open up the data or give it to the private sector to open up!

William Heath was also in attendance anf he praises Ton Zilstra’s summary of the event.