An important part of the tech architecture of open government is use of the cloud. Here’s a nice presentation from Michael Coté explaining what cloud computing is, why it matters and what some of the issues are.
Why would commercial organizations willingly cede the fruits of their labor to a market that might include their competitors? Because for software that is non-differentiating, that is not a competitive advantage – which for most non-technology firms is virtually all of their software – it will cost more over the longer term to author software privately than it would publicly. Facebook and Twitter demonstrate this quite adequately (coverage), true, but it’s not just the web firms. We see it when a hosting company (Rackspace) and space agency (NASA) jointly author a cloud computing stack that neither intends to create a software sales business around. We see it when Lockheed Martin launches an open source social networking project. And so on.
None of these can be characterized as decisions driven by idealism or emotion; they are simply the most logical means of developing software for companies that aren’t in the business of selling software. Make no mistake: we’re seeing a resurgence of roll your own software (coverage). The difference this time around is that by sharing the code developed internally as open source, it becomes possible to amortize the development costs across multiple organizations with similar needs. Worst case, you have the opportunity to lower your costs of talent acquisition; this, presumably, is one of the justifications for Google sharing details on its MapReduce and Pregel processing approaches.
Open source is something I’ve been reading and thinking about a lot recently and the more you dig into it, the more complicated it can get.
With government policy focusing more and more on using open source solutions, I wonder whether the understanding is there amongst those making buying decisions about the various licenses and business models that exist. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
It does strike me though that it is easy for a supplier to claim to provide an open source solution when in fact they don’t.
The advantages of open sourcing for both the supplier and customer, as Stephen notes in his post, are huge. But this really isn’t as simple as just saying that open source software is cheaper, or indeed ‘open’- there are lots of factors here and the implications of taking decisions around open source are potentially significant.
Rewired State – hack UK online – "A one-day hack providing expert advice and prototyping for UK online centres, providing technical options for improving searching on the UK online centres website for a local centre, leading to an improved and more effective experience for the web user."
Creating The Contribution Society – "It seems to me that social software, and architectures of participation, are two means to delivering on the promise of a Contribution Society, where your worth is at least partially measured on what you contribute, rather than what you own."
Big Society needs Big Democracy | The Democratic Society – "Instead, the Big Society and the network need to focus on creating a wider conversation in communities, which can move away from the Whitehall and Westminster world, and promote local solutions. They also need to create a deeper democratic conversation in those localities, to increase the effectiveness, legitimacy and coherence of local action."
Australian government’s Declaration of Open Government – "The Australian Government now declares that, in order to promote greater participation in Australia’s democracy, it is committed to open government based on a culture of engagement, built on better access to and use of government held information, and sustained by the innovative use of technology."
What Does Government Transformation Mean, Exactly? – "Rather than fantasizing about the myth of transformation, governments have to accept that future is no longer predictable and focus on what changes are necessary to make them more flexible and nimble to adapt to uncertainty."
Better Junk Mail – Quick Analysis from the Enterprise 2.0 World – "The positive side is more along the lines of companies realizing the smarts they have in their employees heads and the horizontal connections – and then, of course, re-orienting work to take advantage of them and (we’d hope) figure out compensating employees beyond the org. tree."
Government 2.0: If Engaging is Difficult, Keeping Engaged is More So – "What keeps me going is the use of my blog as my personal knowledge base. Many times, when I prepare a client inquiry, a presentation or a research note, I can go back to the blog and find an example, a nugget, a pesky comment that help me do the job I am measured and paid for."
Empire Disruption – BankerVision – "My experience is that big organsiations create situations where the politics of success dictate you grow your control of people and resources, even when that is counterproductive to the task you're actually supposed to be achieving. "
iAnnotate for iPad – "iAnnotate is both an elegant PDF reader and a powerful annotation tool that finally lets you work with your PDFs. You can open documents from email, sign and send out contracts fast, enter notes for edits, sketch diagrams, copy text, and add highlights or underline with the drag of a finger!"
Armchair Auditor – Nice clean and simple example of what can be done with open government spending data by @adrianshort
Supreme Court’s untendered website cost revealed – "You need to ask yourself whether £360,000 seems like a fair price for such a website. I'd suggest it isn't. Even with a significant allocation for design, I'd have thought you could produce a similar result – with better functionality – for 95% less."
Why I’m fed up of talking about social media, really – "Sure it’s great that lots of councils are interested in social media and what it can do for their communications. But what is really starting to annoy me is that too many councils are asking the wrong questions."
Zotero | Home – "Zotero is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, cite, and share your research sources." – via @jjn1
Local Data wiki – Great idea to create a wiki explaining opendata to local government types.
Centre for Digital Citizenship – "The CdC’s mission is to promote outstanding research on the changing nature of citizenship in a digitally networked society and to contribute to the analysis and development of policy in this area."
Office 2010: the SharePoint factor – "The simple conclusion then is that to make sense of Office 2010 you need SharePoint 2010. The snag is that SharePoint is not something to roll out casually. Although it has a huge number of interesting features, it is also complex and easy to break. "
No Overall Control – a Future State of ICT – "To really address the gap between people in ICT and people who work in the Business (people outside of ICT) you actually need to start moving the competencies that IT Professionals have into the Business."
The Fate of the Semantic Web – "While many survey participants noted that current and emerging technologies are being leveraged toward positive web evolution in regard to linking data, there was no consensus on the technical mechanisms and human actions that might lead to the next wave of improvements – nor how extensive the changes might be."
What’s Wrong With CSS – "Most of all, what I've learned from this exercise in site theming is that CSS is kind of painful. I fully support CSS as a (mostly) functional user interface Model-View-Controller. But even if you have extreme HTML hygiene and Austrian levels of discipline, CSS has some serious limitations in practice."
WordPress-to-lead for Salesforce CRM – "People can enter a contact form on your site, and the lead goes straight into Salesforce CRM: no more copy pasting lead info, no more missing leads: each and every one of them is in Salesforce.com for you to follow up."
Reflecting on my MSc research by Michele Ide-Smith – "By researching the attitudes and perceptions of authorities and citizens I hope to gain a better understanding of perceived barriers, threats and opportunities of using social media for community engagement"
Cinch – "Cinch is a free and easy way to create and share audio, text and photo updates using your phone or computer. Cinch enables you to capture and report on your experiences in a way that simple text just can't do. Using a simple interface, you can make and broadcast your content creations through Facebook, Twitter, CinchCast.com and more."
The State of the Internet Operating System – O’Reilly Radar – "Ask yourself for a moment, what is the operating system of a Google or Bing search? What is the operating system of a mobile phone call? What is the operating system of maps and directions on your phone? What is the operating system of a tweet?"
Penval’s Digital Inclusion Manifesto – Well done Paul Nash. This is what the digital inclusion debate needs – proper, thought through ideas. Genuinely constructive contributions. Not just people bleating about the problems.
In quest of simplicty – "We expect IT to be complex and costly, but the lesson of the past 5 years in IT – where we’ve seen the consumerization of enterprise IT (“enterprise” is often a coy way of saying “this has to be complex and expensive – no questions!”) – is that IT can be both simple and cheap."
Law and social media – dull but important – "Social media throws up issues of privacy and identity which are far more complex when you have a complete record of someone’s time online and a also a need to balance the personal with the professional roles of an individual. "
Powerful petitions with real teeth set to bite – "Local people can now demand their councils take action on underperforming schools and hospitals, drink disorder, anti-social behaviour and other concerns under new rules giving real power to local petitions, announced Communities Secretary John Denham today."