What I’ve been reading

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

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

Every government project should be a Project WIP

I love Project WIP – Shropshire Council’s blog about their efforts to redesign their website.

It’s got a great tone and style, is useful and interactive and gives people a chance to know what is going on behind the scenes, and to get involved too.

It’s also really helpful – take their latest post about responsive design and DPI as an example.

Camden Council did something similar with their web rebuild too.

Why just website projects though? Why aren’t all government projects reported on in the open, via a blog?

It would increase transparency, allow for interested folk to contribute from the outside and open up the teams involved to all kinds of goodwill.

Bookmarks for October 30th through December 10th

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.

Wikileaks and radical transparency

The one thing that the internet does more than anything else, is that it brings the cost of distributing information to zero, no matter how far you are distributing it. We’re only now, I think, starting to be aware of the consequences, let alone learn how to deal with them.

A great example of this disruptive power of the net as a publishing platform emerged this weekend with a further release of confidential communications from US Embassies, on the website Wikileaks.

Most of the damage will be in terms of embarrassment and in personal relationships rather than security threats. Indeed, I’m not entirely convinced of the worth of this activity by Wikileaks – although I suspect that the interest here is less in the message and more in the medium.

One thing that struck me when listening to some of the commentary on the television news yesterday was how many times it was said that there was nothing new here, that everyone within diplomatic circles and the attendant press knew all this stuff anyway, it just wasn’t reported on.

That really annoyed me.

It goes back to the point that the blogger Paul Staines, AKA Guido Fawkes, often makes about lobby journalism and its negative effect on our democracy. I’m sure we all have our own views on Staines’ work and his politics, but I totally am behind him in his efforts to report on what used to be the unreportable. The idea that there is a cosy club in Westminster that decides what we proles can and can’t read really gets my goat.

It turns out the same thing was happening in the world of international diplomacy too. ‘Everyone’ knew that the Saudis hated the Iranians, apparently, but nobody thought to write about it in case somebody got upset.

In steps the internet, and now any can publish to a massive, world-wide audience. People without the bonds of whatever gentlemen’s agreement exists can get hold of information and put it into the public domain – then sit back and watch the crisis unfold.

It is in this radical transparency that I think the effects of the open publishing and data movements will be most keenly felt. Not a state-sponsored publication of how much a government department spends on paper clips.

I’m not saying that this will always be a good thing. Indeed, for government to work effectively there must be, where appropriate, methods of working in an environment which protects secrecy.

Incidents like this will also result in governments shutting down even more, becoming less open, and locking down their communications channels to prevent similar incidents.

But if there is one thing that is becoming abundantly clear, security will always be breached, firewalls hacked, data leaked. Computer security is an illusion, and a potentially dangerous one.

A quote I find myself repeating over and over at the moment is from Scott McNealey, who in 1999 when still CEO of Sun Microsystems said “You have no privacy. Get over it.”

Act like you have no protection and you’ll find that is the best protection you can get.

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.

Almost live transparency from Greater Manchester Police

GMP

A really interesting experiment is happening in Manchester today, thanks to the local police force.

Greater Manchester Police are, according to their website,

publishing details of every incident that it deals with on Twitter to allow the public to see what officers at one of the largest UK forces face on a daily basis.

This video explains more:

You can follow all the action on the GMP website, where they are aggregating together the outputs from three different Twitter streams, or just get the latest from @gmpolice.

As I said, interesting stuff, and a great use of the scale that social media tools like Twitter offer in terms of quickly publishing a lot of information. Imagine doing something like this through traditional web publishing tools!

It’s also a great example of a public service using transparency proactively and positively. It doesn’t always have to be bad news.

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.

Bookmarks for June 3rd through June 7th

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 April 25th through April 30th

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.