Thursday, 24 July 2008

Government: there must be a better way...

Or that's clearly what the UK government thinks, launching a new website this week:

The government is after suggestions of better ways to use and communicate public information. Basically, ideas for mash-ups using a whole range of new data that's being made public.

So you can see on a map which streets have most car crime, and decide not to park there.

Or you could see what time the next train is leaving with highly sensitive MI5 dossiers left on the seats.

Or look up to see which pensioners are getting the most money each week so you know to concentrate your favours on them.

[potentially these last two wouldn't be possible with the current data on offer. But I'm sure it's only a matter of time...]

I guess it's a nice touch, having us do their work for them, but wonder if it's going about things the wrong way round? They're asking people for suggestions of answers, rather than finding a clever way to uncover needs that people have. Which comes back to the whole Henry Ford "If I asked what people wanted, they'd have asked for a faster horse" point - perhaps it'd be more interesting to see some really innovative way of understanding the kinds of needs that citizens have and then publishing these before asking for random ideas.

As you would expect, the site is coming up with a range of ideas (some apparently too humorous to publish) - take a look at the 'latest ideas' section. Ideas currently range from the pointlessly bandwagony (Showing which constituencies in the UK are greenest) to the unintelligible (Ranking of Correlations between Geographically distributed Temporal datasets) to the encouragement of mob violence (Show on a map where people under anti-social behavioural orders live) [sorry - that's another one that doesn't exist in reality...]

Anyway, it's a neat idea but I'm not sure they've quite got their heads around the idea of customer collaboration and probably not gathering the best feedback possible - anyone seen any better schemes they should be learning from in the private sector?

And, since they won't let you post ridiculous ideas on their site, anyone have any they'd like to share?

Here's a starter: hoodie resource page - somewhere that shows empty buildings and wasteland areas with a rating for proximity to off licence and distance from police stations...

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Any such thing as 'the real world'?

Is it time we gave in and conceded that there is no 'real world'/'online world' divide?

Interesting article in the Telegraph talks about how the "Facebook and MySpace generation 'cannot form relationships'". According to a psychiatrist:

"People used to the quick pace of online social networking may soon find the real world boring and unstimulating, potentially leading to more extreme behaviour to get that sense."

But isn't the bigger issue that we need to take social networking more seriously than claiming it's not part of 'the real world'? These are real people, sitting at their computers, really doing things (like typing).

It's the attitude that this isn't 'real' that stops people from properly investing in social media - suggesting that it doesn't have a comparable value to 'real world' networking.

Wonder if they'll be thinking the same way in 8 years time when all software is delivered online - and researched, trialled and purchased online without the need for any 'real world' engagement at all...

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

This is what it looks like

Who needs a sideways look at marketing through the glasses of the street when you have Westwood interviewing Jay-Z? Bugger...