Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Debategraph is totally awesome. (Via rohan)

Hugely interesting and thought-provoking vague-future-of-gov-on-web event up at Nesta last night, all thanks to dominic. Time is tight and parties are loose this week, and there are so many (relatively) disjointed points to break down, mash back up again, I'm going to have to get this blog back on track over Christmas... In the meantime, Rohan has a summary and some video.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Wispas or Tweets: What have we achieved today?

The recent events in Mumbai were curious from an infotech point of view - standing watching a silent screen in Specsavers, I noticed one news channel (perhaps Sky, perhaps CNN or CBS) were actually showing "live" Twitter coverage of thoughts and comments. It looks like the BBC were also experimenting with integrating "Tweets" with a "live updates" page.

The comments on the Beeb article above are an interesting and considered mix. The Independent also followed up on it proclaiming the downfall of British journalism etc. But that's a debate I'm not getting into here.

For me, the interesting thing is that Twitter is being used in this way. In America, hack the debate spliced Tweets into the US election. This would be difficult to do with blogs - content is harder to scan, and then has to be summarised to make it ready for simple broadcast. Twitter "bypasses" this. It's already all ready to just be spat out. In other words, Twitter is broadcast ready.

When investigating the power of communication media, we learn that "impact effectiveness" - how much information you can gleam in as short a time as possible - is essential when the comms channel is already rammed with a million voices. (OK, I kind of just made that up, but it makes sense.) Ideas put more simply and more effectively will take precedence when the cost of communication tends towards zero, and when time is of the essence. This blog would be dead in the water if everyone was concerned about the time taken to scan it.

Politics is ideas as well as discussion, and everyone has a lot of both. A lot of people say that Twitter is the next "fad", and for a while - when it first came along, when I first signed up - I was cautious about it for the very same reason.

But where politicians have turned to Facebook as a way of re-engaging, we must ask "What really has Facebook achieved?" The answer may come back in the form of a Wispa.

But while politics remains a hierarchical structure based on representation, networking and media attention-grabbing, it's stomping ground will be the micro-bite attention worlds that creatures such as Twitter thrive in.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Report - Progress in Online Services

Sphereless... it lives! I've been having many ongoing thoughts buzzing round my head for a while, thoughts which would squeeze nicely into this blog's techno-leotard. Unfortunately, they'll have to wait a little.

In the meantime, to get things re-rolling, the Public Accounts Committee has published their report on Government on the Internet, concerning the progress made (or not) in delivering government services by hooking an "e-" up to them.

The Register has a handy summary. Highlights include:

  • 25% of .gov organisations couldn't say how much electronic services were costing them to run, and 40% of the rest could only estimate this. (That's an inverse total - 60% of 75% of... hmm... 45% of everyone, I think, who kept track of these things.)

  • One third of sites aren't up to accessibility standards. That seems quite a lot still - and I'd be interested in which sites don't meet the standards: old ones no longer under development? Particular sectors? I wonder if there's a chance of mapping these things out.

  • The question of the digital divide is raised yet again, probably relevant in light of the recent announcement of some kind of inclusion strategy.

  • Interestingly, the Government "aims to close 951 websites by 2011". Furthermore: "the Committee recommends that no new government websites should be set up without permission from the Government's CIO." There are some interesting questions about centrality here - control over what people want, but also over the best way to navigate through both sites and site content. Maybe that's a future blog post, right there.

One for further bedtime reading, I think.