Government as a local platform?

Two years ago I researched and wrote a business case to replace our content management system (CMS). This was shortly after BCCDIY and I argued that we should explore the opportunity to coopt partner with Hull’s excellent local talent to build something in the open that encouraged challenge and invited contribution. I lost (“we don’t want to be leaders”) and we picked a safer option. It was approved but something killed the project after I’d moved on in the graduate scheme rotation.

The need hasn’t gone away and on Tuesday I was invited to a meeting to identify tangible benefits for replacing the current CMS that would justify spending some money. Happily there’s talk of open standards and open source so that whilst buying something off a shelf wasn’t out of the question it might not be the automatic choice it once was.

And then that evening GOV.UK‘s beta launched and it brought me back to a piece I’d written last May about the local implications of alpha.gov.uk. Continue reading

Alpha(Local)Gov

I started this post at the start of April, returned to it with the demise of Flip but finally finished it after Andrew Beeken shared his own thoughts yesterday.

April saw the demise of Flip. Despite being the leading camcorder brand in the US, parent company Cisco judged the marketplace to be unsustainable in the face of the competition posed by our mobile phones.

Given that they paid $590m for the technology two years ago it’s a bold move. Equally, their quitting from a position at the top is shrewd because of the inevitable future of hand-held video recording.

I really like my Flip camera and when the product was first introduced it disrupted the market but I expect to get similar functionality from my next mobile phone without having to carry something else in my pocket. Whilst convergence is not good for the 550 employees at Flip, the rest of us benefit – we get one thing where once we might have had to use more.

It’s that sort of approach which lies behind Martha Lane Fox’s vision for a single government domain and over the last three months it has been brought to life by 11 people somewhere in London. There had been glimpses of what they were working on and The Telegraph had featured a couple of screenshots as well as some interviews but this week we were able to get our grubby mitts on this “proof of concept prototype“.

Continue reading