Moonpig will buyover Google in 2010

'Hands free mobile' by Obi-Akpere

I won’t be making too many predictions like the one above. But one I am happy to put my name to is that 2010 will be the year of mobile.

Whether mobile will take off or not this year has been the subject of much discussion with colleagues. There’s a lot of caution; many of us have been burnt by previous false dawns. But against the evidence – massive penetration of cheap smart phones, uptake of mobile broadband and the explosion of apps –  we have to be more ambitious about mobile in 2010.

From my vantage, the world of democracy and politics will be very much part of this mobile bonanza. Here are three prime areas:

1. General Election campaigning
Every party, media outlet and activist group will make extensive use of the web – that’s a given. It will be in the use of mobile that innovations and headlines will be made.

Whether its micro-donations to parties, opposition flash-mobs at events or manifestos in 160 characters – the mobile will make the election feel closer, more personal and more accessible.

Overkill, imposition and data security will all prove problematic.

2. Social marketing
As the functionality of mobiles increases, so the costs of social marketing via mobiles will decrease.

Government marketers have long been interested in mobile, and with the ability to run cheaper, better targeted campaigns we will rush to mobile in our droves. Expect lots of location-based games and personalised advice through apps.

The challenges will be around monitoring, evaluation and creativity (i.e. how to make it look and feel cool).

3. Service delivery
Fuelled by the sudden windfall of public sector data, we can expect a boom in mobile-based interaction with public services.

It is likely that most of these will be packaged up by social enterprises but government will also get involved, especially local authorities. Prime for development will be emergency services, transport infrastructure and environmental services.

Data security, security of payments and records management will prove problematic.

Only time will tell…

What’s in your crystal ball (app)?

WtF r URIs, Triplr, SPARQL and CC0?

If you’re in the government or public sector and you’ve been thinking about surfacing data and putting it online, but are wondering what’s involved, let me point you to ‘Putting Government Data online‘ (www.w3.org/DesignIssues/GovData.html), a short article on the subject by Tim Berners-Lee.

The abstract runs:

Government data is being put online to increase accountability, contribute valuable information about the world, and to enable government, the country, and the world to function more efficiently. All of these purposes are served by putting the information on the Web as Linked Data. Start with the “low-hanging fruit”. Whatever else, the raw data should be made available as soon as possible. Preferably, it should be put up as Linked Data. As a third priority, it should be linked to other sources. As a lower priority, nice user interfaces should be made to it — if interested communities outside government have not already done it. The Linked Data technology, unlike any other technology, allows any data communication to be composed of many mixed vocabularies. Each vocabulary is from a community, be it international, national, state or local; or specific to an industry sector. This optimizes the usual trade-off between the expense and difficulty of getting wide agreement, and the practicality of working in a smaller community. Effort toward interoperability can be spent where most needed, making the evolution with time smoother and more productive.

Evaluation of ‘Improving Government Online’ Review

COI ran a consultative review of guidance on measuring website costs, quality and usage. The Review started on 27 March 2009 and ran for a period of three weeks under the banner of ‘Improving Government Online’.

Due to the fact that the proposed end-users of the guidance were already well-disposed to the use of collaborative editing tools online and because of the successes of other ‘early adopterdepartments, the Digital Policy Review team was persuaded of the value in trying a new approach to reviewing that used a range of ‘social media’ applications to place the draft documents in the public domain for open review and comment.

I advised on the applications to use and their set up (reporting the process in an earlier post). I also a carried out an evaluation independently of the Review team, so as to capture not only their own specific experience but to also to encourage wider evaluation and critique of the use of ‘commentable’ or ‘interactive’ documents was by government reviews and consultations.

Headlines

  1. The format of the Review attracted participation by a small, knowledgeable group of end-users;
  2. The new Review format generated a greater number of comments that provided a more precise set of amendments for the Review team to consider;
  3. The Review team was unfamiliar with the format but quickly found their rhythm and became more confident;
  4. The Review team will use the format for future reviews because it strengthened the quality of the guidance and made the process easier despite generating greater traffic than usual;
  5. Future use of this review format would be welcomed by participants and spectators who interacted with this exercise.
  6. The format allowed the Review team to indicate where they made specific amendments to the guidance as a result of reviewer input.

Continue reading “Evaluation of ‘Improving Government Online’ Review”

‘Improving Websites’ Evaluation Survey

The Digital Policy team at COI used social media to run its consultative review of the ‘Improving Websites’ Guidance. The review has ended and I’m evaluating the exercise.

If you participated or even just looked in occassionally, please fill out the very short survey at http://rossferguson.wufoo.com/forms/coi-improving-websites-review-feedback-survey/. It would be much appreciated.

The short report will be out in a few weeks time.