Tag Archives: ict

What I’ve been reading

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

What I’ve been reading

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

“Kids today need a licence to tinker”

Nice article by John Naughton on the state of IT education in schools:

What is happening is that the national curriculum’s worthy aspirations to educate pupils about ICT are transmuted at the chalkface into teaching kids to use Microsoft software. Our children are mostly getting ICT training rather than ICT education.

And if you can’t see the difference, try this simple thought-experiment: replace “ICT” with “sex” and see which you’d prefer in that context: education or training?

How we got to this ridiculous state of affairs is a long story. It’s partly about how education departments, like generals, are always preparing for the last war. Thus, while we’re moving into a post-PC age, our ICT curriculum is firmly rooted in the desktop computer running Microsoft Windows. It’s also partly about the technophobia of teachers, local councillors and officials. But it’s mainly about the chronic mismatch between the glacial pace of curriculum change in a print-based culture, and the rate of change in the technology.

Bookmarks for February 23rd through April 4th

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.

Future of local gov IT strategy

Gotta love blogging local government types. Great post here from Warwickshire County Council’s Jim Morton about their developing IT strategy.

My favourite bit:

1. Embrace the practice of using ICT as a Utility: It is now possible to consume software, development platforms and infrastructure from the cloud which can potentially lead to many benefits. We need to understand where working this way will help save us time and money as well as avoid extensive development in re-inventing the wheel where a product or service can be used off the shelf. As an example our open data site is already provided using the Ruby on Rails platform as a service provider Heroku.

2. Warwickshire as a service: This is a (hopefully) catchy way of saying that we need to expand our initial work on open data to include as many of our data sets and services as possible i.e. build an open API for the organisation. The vision is that both internal and external developers will make use of the same building blocks for creating services applications and web sites.

3. Rational approach to information management: We need to overcome the historical and technical silos that we have built up around information to build single sources of the truth and gain a clearer understanding of the context around our data and documents. This will allow us to build more useful, accurate applications and web sites as well as providing clear understanding of which information must be kept safe and secure.

4. Use the web to extend the organisation: We need to move from an arms-length model of interacting with the public web via a curated web presence and individual point solutions for deeper interaction to becoming an organisation that is engaged with the web at a cultural as well as technical level. Staff at WCC need to merge the web into their everyday work-life in the same way that they do in their personal lives.

Update: just come across this illuminating interview with Socitm President Jos Creese:

The direction of travel has nevertheless been predetermined by irresistible trends on which central government cuts are a powerful catalyst. Networked citizens have high expectations of digital services. Professionals have realised that open data, open standards and transparency are incontestable requirements of the networked age. Digital innovation, joined up services, citizen-centricity and wide collaboration are all emerging quite naturally as every possible actor, from public and private entities to all kinds of people, are thrust into ever greater immediacy by the internet.

What is happening to local government is a form of coagulation. But it is happening slowly. It relies on internet infrastructure, so it must wait until local authorities have finished building their bits of the Public Sector Network, and the public sector as a whole has established a competent way of formulating open standards of interoperability.

Bookmarks for October 3rd through October 19th

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.

The pipe problem

PipesAt Public Sector Online (which Elaine did a marvellous job of writing up on the LP blog) last Monday, the question was asked – as it often is at these events – what could be done about the fact that the majority of folk working in government, access to the common social websites is blocked.

Cue nods around the room. It’s still an issue, despite the fact that almost every sensible person one talks to says that blocking isn’t the thing to do.

What are the reasons for the blocking? I think there are three main ones. The first two are straw men, to be honest. The third is more troubling and difficult to get around.

1. Staff will waste time

I don’t think I need to spend too much time on this one, as every reader of this blog surely knows that this is a management issue and not a technology one. If people want to waste time, they’ll find a way; and ever organisation already has policy and process to manage this and stop it happening.

2. Information security and risk of virus infection etc

Two parts to this. Firstly that using social web sites, whether for communication or collaboration, increases the likelihood of losing sensitive information. I’ve heard of people in councils being blocked from Slideshare for this very reason. Imagine that! Someone accidentally creating a powerpoint deck full of confidential data, and then deciding that they should publish it publicly on Slideshare!

This is unfathomably moronic, not least because of course there have been far more instances of people losing or leaking paper files, and nobody as far as I am aware has banned the use of those. It’s an education thing, innit?

Likewise the virus issue. People clicking dodgy links is the main problem here, and that’s as likely to happen via email as anything else. Nobody blocks email (shame). Instead, educate people not to click dodgy links. Easy.

3. The pipe isn’t big enough

This is the real issue I think. I have had lots of conversations with IT folk in public sector organisations who simply state that if someone in the organisation watches a video on YouTube, then that’s the network down for pretty much everyone else.

We’ve all been there – who hasn’t tried to access the web at a lunchtime, only for it to be unusably slow?

I can’t help but think that this is one of the main reasons behind organisations blocking access to interesting websites. Perhaps the other two reasons are just covering up the fact that many government organisations have infrastructure that really isn’t fit for purpose?

I honestly don’t know and I also don’t know how expensive a situation this sort of thing is to resolve, or how much of a priority it would be to fix in these austere times.

Credit: photo by Ozh.

Bookmarks for September 20th through October 1st

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.

Bookmarks for August 5th through August 11th

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I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.

Bookmarks for July 28th through August 5th

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.