Policy and technology: a "longue durée" view

Random thoughts on policy for technology and on technology for policy


December 2008

europeana now online in beta

Europeana is (finally) online but… – Kosmopolito

I must have been unlucky to find Europeana down with the sentence “opening in early 2009”, because just afterwards it was back online. As Kosmopolito notes, there is still a long way to go to make it usable, and more importantly, reusable. And as he notices, at the same time the German Archive release thousand of items for free publishing on Wikipedia at no cost.
I keep on noticing the gap between expensive, large scale, slowly developing, top-down, portal centric efforts by some governments, and what is going on the Internet.

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mid december has passed and Europeana is still down

Some time ago I blogged about Europeana, arguing that the worrying argument was NOT that is crashed, but that it needed 3 weeks to be up again – promised in mid december.
Today I checked the website, and guess what – now it says “beginning 2009”.
All this in an age when we attack twitter for being a few hours down. When startups can overcome barriers to entry thanks to cheap, simple and elastic storage services.

Crashing was bad. Three weeks to be back was worse. But not meeting that deadline and pushing it back to a vague “beginning 2009” really makes you think:

Can government ever run similar large-scale web-based initiatives?

I suppose Andrea di Maio will make good use of Europeana in his “no-government scenarios”


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nordic countries vs the EU Commission on transparency in EU

Julien Frisch: Member states vs. EU Commission on transparency and access to documents

Very relevant debate we have to follow.

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is government budget the most important public data to be made available on the web?

If we want to add transparency indicators to the UN index we need specific targeted proposals for indicators.
So I would like to present the UN with precise indicator, not a complete methodology.
We have to choose a single data to be measured in terms of availability on the government website.
For me, this would be government budget as from the open budget initiative.
So I would like to propose an indicator that measures the availability of budget information at different levels: no information, information on how to find and access the budget offline, full downloadable budget and machine-readable/reusable information on budget.
Any thoughts?

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benchmarking e-government – how to update the UN index?

Next week I am heading to the United Nations in New York to discuss the next generation of e-government indicators (thanks David :).
The current UN approach is presented in their annual report.
It is the most important reference for comparing e-gov performance at the global level. Yet I have some doubts about the robustness of the approach: I distrust compound indicators as they are some kind of black box; and it is still undemonstrated whether websites are a solid indicator of e-government progress.
Most of all, the experience tells me that relevance and robustness of indicators are inversely correlated. The more relevant an indicator is, the less measurable. So you often turn out to have indexes about things which are measured because they are measurable, not because they are relevant. Allow me a joke: management theory says “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. I then add “if you can measure it, it’s not important!”.

Of course I will put forward “our” proposal on measuring transparency as key indicator of government in the web 2.0 era.
There are some objections that web 2.0 is too far away for developing countries. I disagree: as previously said, transparency is key to fight corruption, which is a very important government problem in developing countries as well.
If you have remarks and suggestions on how to improve the UN methodology, I’d be happy to discuss and present them at the meeting.


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identity management: private or public, proprietary or open

Google, MySpace and Facebook Make Internet Identity a Three-Horse Race – Seeking Alpha

Does this news signal the success or the failure of the “data portability group”?
Looks to me more a privatization of identity much in the lines of De Maio’s vision on “No Government”.

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a great idea from Debategraph: linking argumentation maps to blogs

Help us map the mind of the blogosphere : Open to persuasion…

DebateGraph is on a hypercreative stream. After releasing the new, much more usable argument mapping interface, launching a debate map on Obama’s priority, they now cam out with the idea, in order to animate this map, to link it with blogosphere debate.
For me, it’s like using Technorati tags. Instead, you use Debategraph argument tags, each time you blog about a topic – in this case the priority of president Obama.
Very inspiring. And in line with some idea on eGov2research.

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