Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

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.

What I’ve been reading

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

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

Too busy for Twitter?

A common risk associated with public bodies engaging online in spaces like Twitter is that there’s too much interaction to cope with. It’s something that often gets raised when I am talking with clients.

E-government bulletin covered the issue recently:

A second delegate from an NHS hospital trust told the group that her communications team was underfunded to respond to social media. “We are becoming an arm of our complaints service, but with no budget – and the complaints team itself won’t monitor Twitter,” she said. And a third told the group that his council’s elected members were receiving such a volume of direct messages on Twitter they were unable to respond to them.

This is, I think, another argument for comms teams not to ‘own’ social media within an organisation. If complaints are coming in through Facebook, or Twitter (or whatever) then it’s the complaints team, not comms, who ought to be monitoring those spaces.

As I think I have written before, communications teams have an oversight role, and a championing one too. They look after the main corporate channels, manage the strategy and governance processes and look after arranging training and that sort of thing. Most of the activity should happen in service areas though.

It’s social media as telephone, not press release. Another way of putting it is that it is communications not Communications. In other words, it’s the normal communicating we all do everyday, by talking, using the phone, emailing and so on; rather than the formal Communications that happens with press releases, interviews and so on.

If you are in a comms team and are drowning in social media interactions that aren’t in your area of expertise, pass them on to someone who is responsible!

Government IT costs – the bloggers’ view

Once again, the quality commentary on the latest reports into government IT spending is coming from blogs.

Simon Dickson:

The real story, such as it is, is the Committee’s apparent recognition that the current process – reliant on a small number of large suppliers being given over-spec’ed, over-detailed, over-sized and over-priced projects – is the ‘root cause’ of the problem. And it’s quite nice to see them challenging the Cabinet Office, about whether its initiatives are tackling that root cause, or just the symptoms (paras 10-11).

Paul Clarke:

Can it really be that a single office computer can cost £3,500? Read that again. £3,500.

No. Of course not. And it almost certainly doesn’t.

Charges made for desktop computing in the public sector are invariably composed of an element for the hardware, plus a rather greater element to cover installation, support… in fact quite a bit more. IT managers (disclosure: I used to be one in the public sector) can play quite a few tunes on this figure; using it to cover centralised development work, packages of software and all manner of other “hidden” costs.

Dan Harrison:

According to the BBC’s article on the report issued by the public administration committee, departments sometimes pay up to £3,500 for a single desktop. What this figure includes, who knows? Undoubtedly there are some howlers out there—some costs that need to be called out and reigned in. Big time. But comparing desktop costs both within government and with those that you or I would pay on Amazon is bananas.

What I’ve been reading

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

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

Crowd sourcing ideas with WordPress

For a customer, we at Kind of Digital have been putting together a prototype system using WordPress to crowdsource ideas from the public.

We’ve done plenty of reading about previous attempts at this sort of thing, and hopefully have avoided a few of the traps that other projects of this type have fallen into.

Our system:

  • Is completely configurable and customisable in terms of look and feel, branding etc
  • Can ask for various bits of information in the idea submitting process to help structure the contributions
  • Allows ideas to be rated and commented on by other visitors
  • Displays prominent lists of the most popular and latest ideas to be submitted
  • All content can be pre-moderated before being published
  • As it’s WordPress, you can publish other content like news or blog posts and static pages with help and other information in
  • As it’s all open source, you can pull your data out whenever you like and host it somewhere else

Right now, we’re just tidying up the prototype. I’d share the screenshots, but the branding makes it pretty obvious who the client is, so I probably shouldn’t.

However, if anyone is interested, we’re definitely planning on making it a service we can provide to other organisations, and it’ll be pretty keenly priced.

If you’d like to know more, and maybe get a private demonstration of what we have right now, drop me a line at