You gave us your money, now give us your feedback

Was part of a good discussion today about 1) highs-and-lows of the digital year [almost] gone and 2) hopes and fears for the year to come.

Barack Obama’s use of digital media featured highly in both. We spoke about our shared admiration for the election campaign, and our shared aspirations for what might happen after January 20th 2009.

What excites someone in my sort of role about what the new US Administration might do with digital, is how it might excite other leaders around the world and encourage them to keep pace.

Only time will tell if the adventurous, inclusive and integrated approach to digital we witnessed during the presidential campaign will translate to an average day in the White House. But I think the portents are positive.

Continue reading “You gave us your money, now give us your feedback”

Democracy 2.0 – Event Presentation Slides

Last Thursday I gave a presentation on eDemocracy in Scotland for Urban Learning Space in Glasgow’s Lighthouse. This is the first opportunity that I’ve had since then to post about it – things have been pretty busy (that’ll be obvious from the irregularity of the posts on this blog).

It was first public-speaking gig since November last year. I had quite enjoyed the lay-off (for a while there it felt like I was doing one every week) but I really enjoyed getting back into it – although there was definitely a bit of rust. What felt particularly good was the chance to speak about Scotland, its experience of eDemocracy and what might happen in years to come. It’s a subject that is never far from my mind but I’ve had few opportunities to present on before this.
Continue reading “Democracy 2.0 – Event Presentation Slides”

Democracy 2.0: Bringing innovation and the social web to the heart of governance in Scotland

Back in February I jotted down some reflections on eDemocracy in Scotland. I’d been back for a few months and was fairly disappointed by the progress the Scottish polity had made online.

First step to putting things right is a good diagnosis, and I hope you’ll participate (whether you’re kilted or not).

On September 25th I will be opening a seminar organised by the fantastic team at Urban Learning Space in Glasgow’s Lighthouse.

Democracy 2.0 – bringing innovation and the social web to the heart of governance in Scotland‘ will be an opportunity to reflect on Scotland’s experience of eDemocracy and discuss where it goes from here. I’m really excited to be joined on the panel by Sarah Davidson, Director of Communications at the Scottish Government) and Iain Bruce (of Sunday Herald fame).

Continue reading “Democracy 2.0: Bringing innovation and the social web to the heart of governance in Scotland”

World e-Parliament Report 2008 Published

They say:

“The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Inter-Parliamentary Union launched today the World e-Parliament Report 2008. The Report was prepared as part of the work of the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament.

TheĀ  World e-Parliament Report 2008 represents the first effort to establish a baseline of how parliaments are using, or planning to use ICT to help them carry out their representative, lawmaking and oversight responsibilities and to connect to their constituencies. It is also intended to advance a shared knowledge base among the parliaments of the world and to promote international debate on these matters.

The Report is based on the responses and comments provided by 105 assemblies from around the world to a survey on the use of ICT in parliament conducted between July and November 2007. It also draws on experiences exchanged during the World e-Parliament Conference 2007 and relevant publicly available information”.

I say:

“An excellent and very important piece of research. Significant, because it covers all conceivable applications of ICT by parliaments across the world. Well done to Gherardo, Jeffrey and Jane for putting it together”.

The Report is available at

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”

eDemocracy Scotland: Creating a national conversation?

The Scottish Parliament is often lauded as being a crucible of innovation around parliamentary procedures and public engagement methods. In terms of eDemocracy, the Parliament’s ePetition’s service is by far one of the most prominent in the world. But an ePetitions service does not an eDemocracy make.

It would be fair to say that beyond Parliament’s online petitions, Scottish-based eDemocracy has been a slow-riser. But rising it is. On February 1st 2008, Holyrood Conferences is holding Scotland’s first dedicated eDemocracy conference to discuss progress to date, how Scottish eDemocracy fits into the wider polity and, of course, where to next.

I will be delivering the Conference’s presentation on the technological infrastructure underpinning Scottish eDemocracy. A refreshing change to the vision-thing presentations I am used to delivering.

As well as looking at the issues through a parliamentary lens, other sessions will look at the Scottish Government and the civil society in Scotland.

For more information, visit

Hope to see you there!

UK Government & Social Media… Ones to Watch

I was lucky enough to start work with the UK Government just as it began to take an interest in what we are now/currently calling social media. That was 2005 and there was hardly anything happening. Today, it’s a different story.

With a host of initiatives on the go, I thought I’d pick out 10 that I think are particularly interesting:

  1. Ministry of JusticeBarCampUKGovweb was an idea floating about waiting to happen, and Jeremy Gould got it off the ground. It’s the first event of its kind for the UK government.
  2. National Health Service – The Our NHS, Our Future activity is putting a lot of weight on its online engagement components. The issue is meaty and its an intriguing opportunity for NHS stakeholders to direct its development. But will the people come? And how will the government tie up their online with the offline activity?
  3. Foreign and Commonwealth Office – when David Miliband arrived, engagement shot up the agenda, particularly online. Not content with just the Secretary of State blogging, staff from across the FCO were invited to get in on the action and duly did.
  4. Government Communications Network – the Social Media Review and associated activities, being led out of the GCN, is taking on the challenge of helping an area of government so used to controlling the message to adapt to a new communications environment.
  5. Downing Street – it’s use of ePetitions was the biggest UK eDemocracy story yet. But will it see out the winter? Well, yes, but with parliament planning its own online petitions system, will time be called on the government’s biggest and most infamous social media experiment yet?
  6. Communities and Local Government – the CLG rebuilt its corporate website using community software. The CLG was one of the first departments to make a conscious effort to utilise social media. The use of deliberative forums by a range of policy teams is worth watching alone, then you factor in the blogs and wikis and you start to realise the importance of this department’s activity.
  7. Defra – the software that runs the CO2 calculator, complete with the government data, has been made freely available under general public licence. Google has used it in its carbon footprint widget.
  8. DirectGov – according to the ONS, 6 in 10 of the UK’s web users have accessed government services via DirectGov. So, where to now? Is there room for a social media angle in the next phase of development?
  9. Ministry of Justice – OK, I’m a bit bias but Digital Dialogues, which is in its final phase, has been putting data about government blogs, forums, webchats etc in the public domain since all this social media interest kicked off.
  10. SS/SIS – a bit of a flippant inclusion. I’ve no idea what they’re doing with social media but whatever it is, it’s bound to be worth keeping an eye on.

Please flag up any others you know about. Maybe there’s some similar stuff going on elsewhere in this big globe of ours.