Government’s Principles for participation – the early sessions

After a long slog, the Cabinet Office has released its ‘Principles for participation online‘.

These principles formed one small part of a larger piece of guidance I researched and wrote with the COI at the end of 2007. I really enjoyed working on it and have been eagerly waiting to see how it would turn out after coming through the necessary bureaucracy.

They went through a number of drafts but I think that the 5 that ‘made the grade’ are sensible.

For curiosity/reference, the following are the original 10 principles as they stood when I passed over the completed guidance. They are written with civil servants in mind, but I think they’re good advice for anybody finding/sharing/collaborating via social media:

General

1. Be involved… The lifeblood of social media is information and interaction. You will get as much out of it as you put in.

2. Be versatile… Social media needs facilitation and leadership, but there is also a lot of value in participating and spectating as a community member.

3. Be credible… Trust is an important currency in a social media space. Trust can be developed through consistency, thoroughness, accuracy, fairness and transparency.

4. Be constructive… A positive contribution to social media can be made through the provision of facts and figures, and by encouraging constructive criticism and deliberation.

5. Be responsive… The social media space is often informal and conversational. Be cordial, honest and professional at all times. Avoid jargon where possible.

Specific

1. Be official… You should not make commitments or engage in activities on behalf of HM Government unless you are explicitly authorised to do so and have management approval and/or delegations.

2. Be legal… Do not post anything on your blog online that you would not say in public. Standard Civil Service proprietary and ethics apply. Be aware of libel, defamation, copyright and data protection (for more information on legal issues refer to ‘Appendix 1’).

3. Be a representative… Always disclose your position and interest as a representative of the Government. Unless a site demands anonymity, use your real name and provide basic details about your role, team and agency/department/office. Never give out personal details (such as date of birth, home address, home telephone number, etc.).

4. Be realistic… Don’t over-stretch. Social media is more effective and manageable as a team-based activity than an individual pursuit.

5. Be integrated… Wherever possible, social media activity should be should be integrated and aligned with other online communications and offline activity.

Now that we have these principles, let’s now have some action. And that’s where the rest of the guidance – the big bit – comes into play…

eDemocracy in the top flights?

Have been thinking about analogies ahead of a presentation I’m to give on eDemocracy in the UK. And with our domestic football season coming to an end, I’ve been thinking along footballing lines and playing about with this angle…

If we think of the web or politics as having football-like leagues, then taking an interest in eDemocracy is remarkably like following a lower-league team. Continue reading “eDemocracy in the top flights?”

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?”

Technology, government and the invisible hand

Another shout from this blog to the Economist, this time for its special edition on technology and government.

On the whole a well-written feature which takes in a range of international case studies; the real value of which is to be found in its brevity amidst otherwise verbose analysis.

One aspect I liked was this idea of ‘government in competition’ or, more accurately, government lacking competition that would make it strive for better effectiveness and efficiencies. In the nearby blogosphere, Simon Dickson also raises this facet of the feature and goes along with its conclusions.

I also appreciated this ‘government in competition’ thesis, but was surprised that the author of the feature (or the usually very savvy editors) didn’t take it in a different direction. Continue reading “Technology, government and the invisible hand”

Carrot or Stick? On Parliaments, ICT and Innovation

One of my last gigs for the Hansard Society was a presentation to the Global Centre of ICT in Parliament in Geneva. It was for a workshop leading up to the Centre’s full-blown conference the next day.

The subject of the workshop and my presentation was parliaments and innovative applications of ICT. Apparently I got a few people’s backs up. Good.

I won’t say black when you say tomato when you say tomato; my outlook is sunny; I’m not in-your-face. But, yes, while a lot of the presentations at the workshop were rosy, I delivered a downbeat critique of how parliaments have approached innovation.

Have a read at the transcript and let me know your thoughts.

Continue reading “Carrot or Stick? On Parliaments, ICT and Innovation”