Stuff what I has been reading… 23/02 – 01/03

Second Life is a feudal society

James Grimmelmann produces a very well-worked analysis of the law and feudal dimensions of Second Life. ‘Virtual worlds built purely for play and where the stakes are not too large should remain mostly untouched by the offline legal system’, he writes, but are we not always hearing how Second Life is a real market?

Can Social Networking Technology Undo Old Political Networks?

No, says Silvio Waisbord, Assistant Professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. And, quite frankly, he’s tired of hearing the suggestion that it might. Quite a loosely-argued piece, but I pick it up because hidden somewhere in there is a fantastic research opportunity to analyse what happens to a polity when the discourse is split across conventional and innovative media.

MPs talk but don’t listen online

… so reports the Hansard Society in its recent snapshot of the ways in which parliamentarians are – or are not – making use of digital media. Disappointing that the pace of change has been so slow. It would be great if the next report went local to find out what constituents think.

Stuff what I has been reading… 16/02 – 22/02

Things I’ve read this week… to

The Obama election campaign will always be remembered for its use of the web to keep voters up-to-date and engaged. But how will this campaign momentum transfer to the Administration? This Pew research shows that as campaigning becomes governing, half of Obama voters expect the frequency of contact to be maintained.

Leadbeater gets Carter
Charlie Leadbeater is peeved with the low-sights of the Digital Britain report . Charlie makes some good points about the reports lack of engagement with changing business models business in digital media. But I am disappointed by his generalisations that government doesn’t get digital. I for one don’t think that’s true.

Decisions, decisions
Good collective decisions depend on the amount of information available but also the ability of individuals to determine the veracity of the information. At least, that’s how it works for bees.

Perspectives on POI

Got round to adding suggestions, comments and queries to the Power of Information Taskforce Report.

The report is really very good. The recommendations it makes have ambition but are also achievable. It goes to show what can be done by taskforces made up of government insiders and outsiders given a clear remit, enough time and sufficient gravitas.

But it could be sharper and stronger.

I’ve added specifics to the commentable version.

What I want to raise here – for lack of a better place – are three more general concerns.

1. More good news... I expected far more of reporting on what has been achieved by government since the original review. Partly because it encourages those who have done good work to keep going, and partly because it encourages the uninitiated or blockers to get involved. Think this would be quite easy for the Taskforce to include because they all know what’s been going on and who’s been behind it.

2. Focus on freeing up information… When the Taskforce talks geo-spatial data, right of re-use, IT access and the like, it makes a great appraisal of what’s wrong and a fantastic case for how it could be done better (roughly, Recommendations 9 – 22). When it drifts off into the policy dialogues, forums and guidance, it all gets woollier and less convincing. These recommendations seem less well-researched and bit too narrow, like an after-thought. By all means reference how the likes of online policy dialogues could be improved by civil servant participation and better access to raw data, but keep it as a prospective benefit to be explored rather than recommending particular courses of action.

3. Make the case… A 10 million pound government innovation budget would be so exciting! But make the case. Is that a lot or a little compared to what? Where should efforts be directed – sites, mash-ups, skills? And what would the prospective results?