Telegraph switches to Google Apps

Been busy at WorkCampUK so haven’t been following my feeds that closely, but my eye was caught by a post written by Shane Richmond, Communities Editor of the Telegraph’s web presence:

I’ve been testing Google Apps within the Telegraph for the last few months so I’m delighted that we’re now switching over entirely. The speed, accessibility and flexibility of Google Mail, Google Calendar and Google Docs make them much better to work with than the programs we used before.

Interesting news. After all, if an august institution like the Telegraph can make such a move, why not any other organisation?

I do have a few issues with the Google Apps offering though. For a start, the version of iGoogle that comes as standard is a seriously crippled version which, amongst other things, only lets you have one page of stuff. Also, sharing forms using Google Spreadsheets doesn’t work for people without an account on the Google Apps domain. It also doesn’t make sense to me that Google Reader isn’t a part of the package too.

But just in terms of email, as someone who has used various versions of Microsoft Exchange and Outlook, Lotus Notes and other enterprise email systems, Gmail is better than any.

CoPs in the Telegraph

Simon Dickson pointed me to a post on the Telegraph‘s Three Line Whip blog about the IDeA Communities of Practice platform:

These ‘Communities of Practice’ are an attempt, according to their creators, to harness the power of social networking to share problems, ideas and expertise.

It seems like a worthy idea – but is still fundamentally quite cautious. As I pointed out this weekend in a piece for ConservativeHome, government is still reluctant to let the people see behind the curtain. The ‘Communities of Practice’ are closed shops, designed to let those in the biz talk to each other without disruptive elements intruding…

But there is a more radical view, which is that government, and its personnel, do not have a monopoly of good ideas – and that opening up policy-making will make for better policy and a more engaged public. I go over the pros and cons in the final section of my recent pamphlet for the Centre for Policy Studies, but would be interested to get an idea as to whether people on this site think policy should be left to the experts. I suspect I know what the answer will be…

A predictable reaction possibly. But in reality, it isn’t a closed shop. Just by connecting all those in local government alone there would be a huge number of different voices and perspectives involved. But there are also people from across the public sector, not to mention Councillors and people who work for the sector as independent consultants.

It would be interesting to find out what would happen if Joe Public tried to join. I suspect they would be engaged with and not turned away. How interested are folk in the minutiae of local government working practices? Maybe there should be something similar created to connect people with an interest in local politics, to help them work together and engage with their local authorities.

Worse, though is in the comments, where one particularly moronic contributor states:

…except for the fact that this is funded by the long-suffering taxpayer. Remember that those that govern despise the governed and resent any intrusion into their cosy unproductive world.

There is no need to cut essential services to fund tax cuts – there are hundreds of millions to be saved by abolishing these glorified social clubs.

Sigh. There’s actually a multitude of examples of where this technology has saved money – travel can be avoided by collaborating online, for example. But this sort of vile attitude towards public servants probably isn’t worth even spending the time to argue with.