Category Archives: Politics

Show us a better way…

How about letting the community decide which idea has the most relevance to them? If that isn’t possible, why not try letting the community decide on a shortlist from the PoI taskforce? The facility to vote on an idea exists on the OPSI data unlocking service, it should with the show us a better way competition as well.

Show us a better way and make citizens rise to the challenge (and obligation) of deciding what they’d like to see achieved.

We can suggest the solution to a problem fairly easily – make us own it as well.


Know your dope fiend

I live in South London.

Most days it’s safe – I say this despite the fact that in five minutes, I could walk you past the location of three murders over the last 12 months.

Yes, there is crime here and something needs to be done about it… although I’m not convinced Lambeth Council’s latest ‘name and shame’ idea will work. The campaign is predicated on coming to Brixton for the ‘right‘ reasons:

The posters, which are displayed at Brixton tube and on buses across the borough, show anonymous faces of ‘offenders’, listing their drug offence, the conviction they were given – and the unwelcome publicity they received as a result. These images are mirrored by partner posters that quote visitors who came to Brixton to enjoy the culture, food, and nightlife, rather than to buy drugs. The council says the over-riding message is ‘come to Brixton for the right reasons’.

So, come to Brixton to buy or sell drugs and you could end up on Lambeth council’s very own version of facebook, backed up by a print campaign.  Whilst the print campaign uses models, it appears the online campaign – hosted on the council’s website – doesn’t.

What I don’t understand is what happens if (and it may be a big if) an offender manages to turn their lives around. Ok to get rid of the profile then, or will it be left on the website as a permanent scarlett letter?

To me, whilst the press around the campaign suggests it’s targeting both buyers and sellers it’s the latter that I think they are really after – if there is no market, I guess the theory goes, there aren’t any dealers. At least not visible ones.

Is there a better way to use social media in this context? Will the announcement of interactive crime maps help?

Congressional Rules for Social Media

I’ve been following an interesting conversation on twitter between Amanda Chappel and Texan Congressman John Culberson on his use of social media tools so he can ‘better communicate with the public and become more accessible to my constituents.’

Through the use of twitter and Qik, Culberson has been broadcasting from the floor of Congress in an effort to shine some ‘sunlight’ on congressional procedures.

Whilst this in itself is a good thing, it appears to contravene a number of congressional rules on the use of ‘approved’ websites that require the politician to provide a disclaimer indicating: ‘this tweet is a communication from an official federal representative’ (that’s 66 characters twitter users).

Digging a little deeper into the debate, it’s obvious that there is some political grandstanding involved which Shelby Highsmith does a great job of covering. The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi also chimes in, responding to a number of ‘inaccurate rumours’.

Politics aside, I think Culberson is genuinely trying to change the way the US government works. The debate he has helped force, looks like it will influence new rules for Congressional engagement (with some help from the sunlight foundation) and more elected representatives will be using social media to communicate with their constituents.

With our own elected representatives in the UK using twitter and blogging it can’t be too long till one of them is using QIK from the floor of Parliament?

Perhaps it’s time to get Tom an N95?

Your project: the PM responds

One of the things we face as civil servants, or consultants to the civil service, is the fact that we are not only designing and building policy, tools and services, but as citizens we are also end-users of the ‘products’ we develop. An occasional result of ‘ticking all the boxes’ leads to slowly delivered solutions that may have been achieved far faster if the ‘right’ person, at the ‘right’ time, provided some critical appraisal of the ‘product’.

Doesn’t always work though.

ZDNet reports on Bill Gates’ frustration in trying to install and use Moviemaker and Digital Plus Pro. Amongst his comments:

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don’t drive usability issues.

He adds:

So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that is a terrible website I haven’t run Moviemaker and I haven’t got the plus package.

And then ends with (which I would perceive as a gentle hint):

When I really get to use the stuff I am sure I will have more feedback.

What is so valuable here is Gates reporting his experience as a user. He tested the user experience and it didn’t work.

So, Digital People, how would your project stand up if the PM was the end-user? Why should it make a difference if it was a user named G. Brown or Prime Minister?

Each comment counts. It improves what we’re doing. As Gates says:

There’s not a day that I don’t send a piece of e-mail … like that piece of e-mail. That’s my job.

It’s ours as well.