Policy and technology: a "longue durée" view

Random thoughts on policy for technology and on technology for policy


August 2008

is it still possible to separate work and private life?

Let’s look at this from a technology tools perspective.
My goal is to separate work and private life.
So my iCalendar has two calendars, work and home. Actually three with the dopplr travel accounts.
Also I prefer to use facebook for personal contacts, and Linkedin for business contact. Plus, I am now a bit strict about friends in facebook, as I want to use it to keep in touch with friends all over the world.
This enables me to post “status updates” for work and private life separately.
But then there is Twitter, which you can use for both. Actually you could build two accounts, one for private and one for work. But then I see my twitter contacts mix work and private life in their posts.

My question is: am I resisting an inevitable change? is it possible to mantain a separation?

If not, many people like me will resist this and possibly stop using social tools altogether. As Lee Bryant often says, now web2.0 is not about sharing with everybody, but about intimate context. But how to combine the extreme usability of social software with profiling of different contexts?

That’s why I like RSS so much. It enables you to bring all contexts together, at the end.

another re-reading: the eCitizen charter

Another example (see previous post) of measures acting on the drivers of government change, such as transparency, is the eCitizen charter from the Netherlands. It is a voluntary code, listing the rights of citizens towards eGovernment, and it uses a demand-led approach:

“The charter allows citizens to call their government to account for the quality of online contacts.”

see here

re-reading “eGovernment for better government”

Because of a new project I went back to the OECD report “eGovernment for better goverment”.
As often happens with good books, I found ideas which now resonate very well with what I wrote on a new vision for eGovernment.

“better government is a matter of optimising the “e” in government to ensure that it is properly integrated into the mainstream efforts to improve government”

This resonates well with the “vision” of eGovernment providing transparent and reusable data, as these reinforce the existing drivers for government transformation (“efforts to improve government”). In my paper (sorry to quote myself):

transparency, which enhances accountability and choice, can be a powerful driver, a catalyst and a flagship for “transformational government”, rather than for “eGovernment” only.

So we can “sell” the vision of eGov 2.0 using the OECD argument.

eGovernment in South Africa: back from GovTech08

Just back from the GovTech conf in South Africa. Very interesting to see how eGov is still a hype there. Impressive organization (thanks!). Lots of money spent in the event: just to give you an idea, we had an opera on the first night, parties with live music every night, and everybody (1500 people!) received a webcam and a 2giga memory stick. All offered by the vendors. Uhm.
However, one can find some cracks in the armour, some uncertainty emerging. People laughed a lot when I quoted this CIO of a regional government in Italy saying:

“we need an exit strategy from eGovernment”

The title of the conference was “collaborate-innovate-deliver”. As usual, the title reflect better what we miss than what we have. There is a feeling that eGovernment hasn’t delivered – so far.
The first to realize this are the politicians. I was very impressed by the Minister for Public Service and her collaborators.
She made strong”reality checks” and was somehow the critical voice, with respect to all other speakers who were more “hype”. The sentences struck me, because of the context where they were given:

“innovation exists only when implemented”
“there is a conference euphoria, with lots of talk and enthusiasm but then little implementation”
“with 6 million spent in computer you could feed X children”.

I talked a lot with people in the ministry about web2.0 and innovation in public sector, they seem very interested and I hope we can do something together. They certainly share somehow this feeling of disappointment towards the impact of eGovernment.

Another interesting chat I had was with Graham Taylor of OpenForumEurope. South Africa is apparently very advanced in terms of pro-open source policies. We realized how big a change we have seen in recent years, with a feeling that Microsoft is now somehow the weak player in the game. At least it was at this conference.

Finally, my presentation was very similar to the one I gave in Lisbon (see on slideshare). The only new thing I recommend is slide 20.

Also, the organisers provided all delegates with a device to answer to questions posed by the speaker. I had some interesting answers:
– 40% of people used RSS readers, while does who didn’t mostly did not know what it was. So we can say “RSS: if you know it, you use it”.
– the impact of web2.0 is perceived mainly in the front office
– the leading force will be individual citizens, not civil society/government/industry.

Finally: yes, the key impact perceived for web2.0 is on fighting corruption. We were right! 🙂

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