After the watershed – five reasons why nothing can be the same since the launch of Gov.uk/government

GOV.UK 100 days signed sign by @psd http://www.flickr.com/photos/psd/7649345008/in/pool-1873292@N24/
GOV.UK 100 days signed sign by @psd

On February 28th the hangar door of Aviation House opened and gov.UK/government took it’s maiden flight. It might not be up there with what happened at Kitty Hawk in 1903, but this will go down as a decisive event in the way government publishes and engages – digitally or otherwise.

Inside government is the second part of the GovUK beta to go live and although in the history books it will all rightly be discussed as one and same, for me at this stage in the development /government is the most radical and exciting part.

Your best guide to the project and the site is Neil Williams, the gov.uk/government product manager. But before I lose you to him, you might spare me just a couple of minutes to share an unofficial insider’s view (someone who has worked with, for and now in digital teams in the government; a hard-boiled sceptic, now convinced through first-hand experience of the gov.UK project)

So here are five reasons why I think the release of the Inside government beta is a watershed moment:

Continue reading “After the watershed – five reasons why nothing can be the same since the launch of Gov.uk/government”

Twitter is tomorrow’s email… technology adoption in organisations

Phases of technology adoption in organisations
Phases of technology adoption in organisations

In 2004 – in Lithuania, of all places – Professor Stephen Coleman introduced me to a four-phase model for understanding how new technologies are adopted and influenced by organisations.

Don’t know if he came up with it directly but finding it beautifully simple and functional, I’ve used it countless times since to make sense of how technology use is developing in organisations I have worked for or with.

I was discussing it with Neil Williams over a cerveza recently, and decided to add a fifth phase that I’d like to share here.

Coleman’s four phases (note – I’ve tweaked the names, but not their essence) ran as follows:

hyperbole > resistance > institutionalisation > transformation
Continue reading “Twitter is tomorrow’s email… technology adoption in organisations”

Stuff what I has been reading… 27/07 – 02/08

Push too hard for revenue in the short term, they might drive away users, undermining a network. Leave it too late to monetise and the business could collapse.

Social media – is it about money or people?

[From The Economist]

There are no self-evident connections between the key objectives of counter-terrorism, development, democracy/ state-building and counter-insurgency. Counter-insurgency is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for state-building.

Rory Stewart knows Afghanistan, and this essay is a expert analysis of the problems with the Afghan ‘mission’; it is a pity that his solution to the problem is not as clear as his diagnosis of the problem.

[From the London Review of Books]

Of all the economic bubbles that have been pricked, few have burst more spectacularly than the reputation of economics itself.

A spirited but balanced defence of the dismal science.

[From The Economist]

On my desktop this week… ‘Dam #6’ by Edward Burtynsky

Dam #6 by Edward Burtynsky
'Dam #6' by Edward Burtynsky

Because sometimes delivering digital media projects can feel as complex and as large an undertaking as civil engineering. And afterall with each site, each piece of content, each interaction we manufacture the digital landscape.

I got into this sort of photography after watching Koyaanisqatsi. Ever since the work of Edward Burtynsky comes the fore of my mind when I talk about the best photography I’ve seen.

Consultation, eh?

Been taking a keener-than-usual interest in Canadian politics online; I’ve written an article for a Canadian journal discussing different national experiences of eDemocracy.

I didn’t write about this specific site, but I found CitizenVoices interesting. Ostensibly it’s a platform for Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, to bring young citizens together for dialogue with politicians.

Four elements caught my attention:

  1. The dashboard model – I tested this approach with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner as part of the Digital Dialogues project last year. It was developed in partnership with Vohm, and brought profiles, forums, blogs, polls and an ‘Ask & Answer’ module all underpinned by Drupal. The idea is to give participants control over what functionality they use, in the interest of seeing whether their participation frequency rises or falls in comparison with sites where the functionality is pre-determined by its managers. Continue reading “Consultation, eh?”

The Rise and Fall of Virgin Student

This week Ofcom released figures to suggest that the British use online social networks more than any other European population. Apparently we spend an average 5.3 hours per month logged into sites like Facebook and MySpace. Some are calling it obsessive.

Obsessions are often explosive and a lot of the analysis would suggest that our take up of social networks has been just that. The media story of networking sites is one that begins in a bedroom, builds up some underground cred, catches the eye of a big brand and within a year of launch is bought up for millions of dollars.

But not so. Sites like Facebook and MySpace are just the latest permutations in a long strain of social networks that have been with us since the beginning of the web. In fact, over the years there has been very little change in their essential components.

Take as a case study VirginStudent.com. VirginStudent was a community site launched in 2000 by no less than one of the UK’s – nay the world’s, most important brands – Virgin. It’s a site close to my heart; I did an internship there over a glorious summer in 2001. Continue reading “The Rise and Fall of Virgin Student”