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Hack, Mash and Innovate: Contests Coming Soon

2009 August 13

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that #gov2au is planning to hold some contests.

No surprise because our guiding document (the terms of reference, you read those in detail, right?) said we would “fund initiatives and incentives which may achieve or demonstrate how to accomplish government 2.0 objectives.” No surprise because other international efforts at more open/ Web 2.0-y government have also held contests. No surprise because contests are fun and get all of us engaged.

Our current thinking is for three contests to be held…

# a makeover:

what? a select number of Australian government agencies will work collaboratively with each other and with community experts to build a new widget or online presence.

why? the Internet is now the most common way Australians last made contact with government. However,  feedback suggests that there is considerable room for improvement in relation to searchability, useability etc. In addition, attempts to introduce more Web 2.0 tools into government websites have met with challenges and technical difficulties. This contest will combine the highly skilled and innovative ideas of those in the community with present architecture and information requirements of government websites. The purpose is to identify the best ideas and possibilities for government websites, free (for a limited time and purpose) of the usual legal, process or other constraints that may apply when agencies work to upgrade their websites or develop online tools. The aim is to imagine the possibilities with government websites to inform the Taskforce’s work and to possibly provide agencies with useful suggestions, models and solutions.

Tell us… what kinds of features would you like to see government websites have or what tools governments could, or should, offer; which government websites you think work well, which ones leave room for improvement….

# a government innovation contest

what? a contest to recognise, incentivise and showcase existing Web 2.0 innovators in the Australian Government.

why? despite existing constraints, various government agencies are trying and succeeding at innovative uses of technology, including Web 2.0, and promoting greater openness.

Tell us… which agencies you think are doing government 2.0 well so we make sure they get the nomination form for the contest.

# an open access to PSI + the ‘tools of liberation’ contest

what? we are working to make some datasets from various jurisdictions available on open access terms and in formats that permit and enable reuse. If we find that an agency is willing to make data available but can’t because of a legacy system, we will outline the technical requirements and post it as a challenge to build and open source a tool that will help that agency (and possibly others) “liberate” the data.

why? discussions about the benefits of open access to PSI are often overshadowed by a focus on the risks and issues. However, much of the PSI which would be made open access for greatest community benefit does not raise these issues. An open access contest will showcase how something as simple as, for example, toilet data, public transport information, water information or census data, can deliver benefits to the research, commercial and community sectors.

As a practical matter, open access to PSI raises many challenges, some of which may be “hidden” (for want of a better word), e.g. the best data may be in legacy systems and difficult to make available to the public. This contest would incentivise people to develop open source tools that will facilitate and enable open access to PSI, particularly legacy PSI. The release of these tools could further the Taskforce’s objectives by providing tangible methods of enabling greater open access in future and potentially form the building blocks for a “” platform.

Tell us… what data you would like to see included in the contest.

What are the prizes? Great question. We’re still figuring out the details. Money, sure. However, we’re also trying to get creative. For the New York City BigApps contest, one prize is dinner with New York mayor Michael Blomberg. So tell us what, aside from money, would make you want to particpate more…

Don’t like these ideas? Got a better one? Great – we will shortly be launching a brainstorming and ideas site so that you can tell us what we missed. Or you can tell us now in the comments.

77 Responses
  1. 2009 August 13

    1.I think the leaders in Government 2.0 are the public libraries, who have put their catalogues online. It seems so long ago now, that it is hard to imagine the libraries without their catalogues online.

    What is the 2.0 use? Ordering / reserving books/other material from other branches, from your home or elsewhere 24/7.

    Libraries do web 2.0: 10/10.

    2. As a general aside, Govt 2.0 needs to make our lives simpler, as well as connecting. Connecting but burying me in information is no good. We need to simplify, simplify, simplify.

    Yet still maintain power and functionality. Tricky!

    The Tag cloud is one way. Another is available at This web application summarises text visually into the most common to least common terms. See one here for

    Hope this helps.
    Richard Ferrers
    Value and Innovation Researcher,

    Value includes dimensions of function, time, simplicity, connection and power (and seven others).

  2. 2009 August 13

    A good starting point. Some feedback for you:

    # a makeover
    Features? Feedback? No, you are stuck in Web 1.0. We need agile proof of concepts and experiments, built on the user centred design practices and approaches. Fund a hackfest or something similar and things might get interesting. Pick a few problem areas, like health care or water management, if you want to focus the thinking.

    # a government innovation contest
    Sounds like a great idea. What do we have to do to get a site built to support this? BTW What’s the reward for the department(s) that win? Perhaps some seed funding to improve what they are already doing?

    # an open access to PSI + the ‘tools of liberation’ contest
    Why not just specifically focus on existing public information that just isn’t in a Web 2.0 accessible format yet and actually fixing the problem? The simple stuff can make all the difference right now. Look at for inspiration and drive change.

    Other feedback:
    * I’d like to see the Taskforce explore and experiment with some alternative ways for developing government solutions, e.g. similar to the Social Innovation Camp concept or evolutionary development approaches (i.e. plant many seeds and see which is the most successful for further funding). As part of this it would be good to have the chance for the government, community and commercial sectors to innovate together.
    * There is nothing here, on the face of it, that deals with the internal use of social computing in government.

    • 2009 August 16
      Martin Stewart-Weeks permalink

      I like the idea of a Public Innovation Camp model…I guess the barcamps that are now picking up the gov2 focus are the obvious places to start? Would be good to see a gradual evolution of more inside-outside forums where people inside govt and those not in govt but with skills and insights to contribute and who share the focus on public value and problem solving could work together as a matter of course to experiment, test etc

  3. 2009 August 13
    Alexander Sadleir permalink

    It’s hard to tell what data to ask for, when there isn’t yet a respository of what data is available. If you want to request documents under FOI provisions, it can be an iterative process or you can go to the Indexed Lists of Departmental and Agency Files. (In fact, collating those file lists for central searching would be a great PSI application opportunity)

    But a wish list :
    - Post Codes with geographical boundaries under a freely usable licence (Creative Commons etc.)
    - Historical domestic airport flight data (Real time would be even better; the FAA in america provides that and it’s resulted in great mashups)
    - Geographical crime report rates (Again, some great mashups like the “plan the safest route home from the pub” apps have resulted)
    - Traffic congestion by roads and time of day
    - The AusTender data as an API or database dump. This is a great PSI resource but the reporting interface is hard to utilise fully and there’s limits on the amount of information you can get in a single query.

    • 2009 August 21

      @alexander Postal Area Digital Boundaries from 2006 Census for Whole of Australia, in ESRI Shapefile Format & Mapinfo, available free for download under Creative Commons from ABS, link here

  4. 2009 August 13

    I’m strongly with James, yet again. A good deal of the thinking we’re seeing exhibited is very Web 1.0 (or earlier). We need to view all of this as an opportunity to exhibit progress as we go and not just in a report at the end of the year.

    So for #1, let’s see some living, breathing examples of what could be done in action. Let’s see some mashups of data from multiple agencies that together show greater value than they do alone.

    For #2 let’s see the innovators named. Personally. The reticence in government to attribute great ideas to individuals or groups at any time other than when something like Australia Day Awards are handed out is shameful. Let’s pin a few ribbons on the real innovators already in government. And let’s make sure that their senior executive has to recognise how innovative they are – too often, fear or concern over the views of senior management is what keeps these efforts hidden.

    For #3, let’s just have SMoS or the Finance Minister, or even better, the PM hand a mandate to agencies that their PSI must be made available in a licensed, consumable, non-proprietary form by this time next year unless a public, provable case for a national security classification can be made. For anything already available, let’s just get it in the right form with the right license.

    Again, let’s show progress before the report at the end of the year. We could have a functional equivalent to by the end of the year, easily.

    There’s still too much formal, structured, bureaucratic thinking. Why not try a few things? If they don’t work, throw them away – after all, fail early and often is a core tenet of the 2.0 world. As a former Googler, Mia should have this in her DNA.

  5. 2009 August 13

    Oh, and let’s get all the members of the Taskforce active in online communities contributing to the conversation. Some of you are far too quiet.

    There are active Australian Government 2.0 communities on Google Groups and at GovLoop.

  6. 2009 August 13
    Kerry Webb permalink

    Re principles: I read this week a 1997 paper from Eric Wainwright, in which he proposed a couple of radical thoughts:

    Access to publicly releasable government information is a fundamental right of all citizens in a democratic society.


    In developing systems for the organisation, transmission and transaction of information, agencies should start from the premise that, subject to privacy legislation, all information content will at some time be transferred across agency boundaries, and design access systems accordingly

    More at

    • 2009 August 14
      Kevin Cox permalink

      Access to government information about an individual by the individual is already a right and is in the Privacy Principles.

      The only thing that needs to happen is for governments to supply individuals electronic access to their own personal information. In most cases this can be done through a simple webservice hooked to an identification regime.

  7. 2009 August 13
    Bec permalink

    I agree with James

  8. 2009 August 13
    Paul Taylor permalink

    Lots of mash-ups exist because they can. A dataset becomes available, gets mashed against Google Maps, and voila — a demonstration of a solution looking for a problem.

    In the spirit of using the Taskforce as an opportunity to move things forward (rather than summarising or re-stating what is already being done) I would like to see the competitions encourage people to focus on the effectiveness of their contributions. FixMyStreet is brilliant because it meets a need, effectively outsourcing the prioritisation of routine maintenance for an entire country to the crowd. Releasing new government datasets will not fail in driving the creation of new apps — but it may not deliver lasting ones.

    Effectiveness depends upon meeting a real need in a way that delivers real value for a sufficiently sizeable community.

    Bring on the competition!

    • 2009 August 13

      FixMyStreet is brilliant because it meets a need, effectively outsourcing the prioritisation of routine maintenance for an entire country to the crowd.

      But you also need to look beyond the application itself – look also at how it was created. FixMyStreet is one of many initiatives from MySociety, which itself is a project of the UK Citizens Online Democracy charity. Now go look at the funding for UKCOD. This aspect is tragically missing from any of the Taskforce’s discussions at this time. We are so focused on the issue of changing the public service itself and emulating outcomes from overseas in a simplistic way that we haven’t yet considered what’s inside the box that makes some of these initiatives work.

      • 2009 August 13

        So, as I mentioned on my blog the other day, sometimes, government should simply point the way to the best provider of a service or tool, not seek to remake it.

        Social entrepreneurship and it’s interrelationship with government (as both legislature and executive) is something that’s been discussed very little so far by the Taskforce. It’s actually a massive opportunity.

        Perhaps some of the grants from the Taskforce should go to establishing or funding an equivalent to UKCOD?

      • 2009 August 14
        Kevin Cox permalink

        One of my suggestions, provided the competition rules does not preclude it, will be on funding and using electronic market places to monitor and ensure compliance. If adopted funding will no longer be an issue as it will be done through zero interest, long term loans that get paid back when the initiative generates or saves money. Loan applications will be open to both citizens, government bodies and other organisations. A Government 2.0 funding process through zero interest loans will also solve many of the problems of deciding which initiatives to support.

  9. 2009 August 13

    been away and just tuning back in, the comp ideas sound great and look forward to being involved.

  10. 2009 August 14

    Great example from NZ of getting on with opening up data:
    Exposing non-personal data in new ways
    I note they are holding a NZ Open Govt Data Barcamp/Hackfest at the end of the month and some other non-government group has setup a rough NZ Open Data Catalogue site.

  11. 2009 August 14
    Kevin Cox permalink

    The only prize I want is an invitation to present a winning idea, along with other other winners, to other governments around Australia and the world.

    This could either be an “online” event or an event in Australia with invited participants or it could be a travelling road show.

  12. 2009 August 14

    Congrats on making an effort here. Also on the road shows.

    One or more of the roadshows should include allowing public servants to collaborate with external parties (mates etc) to produce real services. The nature of mashups means bring those diverse skills and tools and knowledge together. As confronting as it may be a gov2mashfest might be one of many ways to encourage this and develop the people connections that really make it zing.

    I also echo some of the comments above about this being a little web1.0 in approach and would encourage you to use tools to collate feedback rather than email for everyone’s benefit e.g. for voting on ideas – (google moderator, uservoice, getsatisfation etc) e.g. for event management like your roadshows – eventbrite or sticktickets.

    I would encourage you to try Australian providers too where ever possible. e.g. get a gov2 wiki started using confluence asap.

    Keep up the great work and try to get a bit more small business focus into all your efforts please please please they are the engine of innovation and employment after all… how about a special prize even?

    Cheers, Pete. (yes that is a zero :-)

    • 2009 August 14
      Gordon Grace permalink


      I would encourage you to try Australian providers too where ever possible. e.g. get a gov2 wiki started using confluence asap.

      Something like a GovDex Community?

      • 2009 August 14

        GovDex is for crossing areas within Government. I am talking about a directory for inside and outside. Nice thought though.

  13. 2009 August 14
    Neil Henderson permalink

    The idea of a competition is an excellent one. Would a prize of dinner with Lindsay Tanner & The Chaser team be too cotreversial? makeover
    Yes please, let’s see if can get some design patterns into the government websites. I am architecting a program at the moemnt which consists of 5 IT projects – the idea of a user trying to understand their journey as they travel through 5 different website design patterns is rather frightening. Could this activity look at how we design for whole-of-government please?
    government innovation
    Some people around the world have created wonderfully innovative solutions using the internet. We need the equivalent of IT jam sessions, or something that provides a creative environment. Major programs/projects often get channeled into delivering on outcomes (not suprisingly) and innovation moves to a lower priority. We need to fund innovation as a separate capability. For the competion – what the “tell government once” strategy?
    Open access to PSI
    This is a “must do” in my opinion.

  14. 2009 August 14
    Neil Henderson permalink

    Every comment I have submitted has spelling errors (sorry about that) – is there a way I can avoid this (other than inmproving my typing)?

    • 2009 August 14
      Kevin Cox permalink

      Don’t worry about the spelling errors you make perfectly good sense – but if you are concerned then use a browser that checks your spelling automatically. I am using Safari but I am sure others do the job equally well. This even passed the grammar check.

  15. 2009 August 14

    # a makeover:

    I’m always one for having better communication and transparency, and I am a keen supporter of video as a modern, direct and more engaging communication mechanism. So, I am keen to see the use of video on a government website improved.

    This includes doing something like what the ABC is doing with Q&A: introducing a means for citizens to directly leave questions on the Website to which government officials can then provide the answers.

    This also includes turning some of the more complicated process descriptions into a video – just like a information booth at an agency would help people find their way, such videos help people orient themselves. For example, why not describe the process of applying for an Australian visa in a video? Certainly, such a video would need subtitles in a lot of different languages. Also, it does not have to be an expensive production – a simple interview with a government agent who has all the information, spliced together with some photos of relevant forms may indeed be sufficient. If this is integrated with links to the right forms, people may actually find it easier and make less mistakes in following procedure. Further, if there is a twitter channel available on which people can ask clarifying questions, we are really starting to emulate a successful information booth. This can be applied to a lot of government services.

    Further, I can imagine the news on a government agency being provided through short, informative videos. For example, a change in the tax system could be explained by somebody within the tax department together with some explanations on the expected effects. Then there could be a twitter channel or a comment thread provided where further questions would be answered. The commnication channel is very important, so as to stop online video from being used like the one-way communication channel that it is on TV.

    • 2009 August 17
      Bec permalink

      You should get together and offer all agencies an RSS feed relevant to their agency. Lets face it, a lot of government agencies can only write vain news articles, rarely are they helpful or informative. Most aren’t written in plain english and involve a lot of marketing fluff. Some on have no contact details!

      The taskforce should invest some time with Gerry McGovern (google him) and Jacob Nielson ( to learn how to deliver news from a user perspective. Government is terrible at this, sorry I know the truth hurts – we can do so much better.

      • 2009 August 17

        Bec, I support the idea of a unified and sensible whole-of-government aggregator for agency news and information. Much needed!

        As for using Gerry McGovern or Jakob Neilsen, I think we’ll leave them well enough alone. For Neilsen, at least, his views and practices are considered well out of date in the user centered design and usability communities. Not that he doesn’t have useful things to say at times, but there are new leaders out there.

        Australia (and in this context, Canberra) itself is home to several internationally recognised communications and usability experts. I’d hazard that I’m among them, but there’s also Donna Spencer, Matthew Hodgson, Ruth Ellison and others right here on the ground and keen to help.

      • 2009 August 17

        Oh, Bec, you’ve got some really interesting views here. It’d be great to know who you are and what agency you represent, if any.

      • 2009 August 17
        Gordon Grace permalink


        You should get together and offer all agencies an RSS feed relevant to their agency.

        Bec – You may find the following useful, courtesy of

        > Latest Media Releases (All Portfolios) (RSS)

        > Latest Media Release RSS Feeds (Per Portfolio)

        > Latest Media Releases (All Portfolios) (HTML)

        > Media Release Pages by Portfolio

        > OPML file of agency media release RSS feeds

        These feeds aren’t perfect by any means – agencies have a lot of variety in their writing style, use of structured data, etc. – but they may be a good start or a decent rallying point.

    • 2009 August 17

      Silvia you are so right.

      I have been amused that so much talk about web 2.0 and no mention of the power of online video.

      Funny that considering that one of the greatest web 2.0 sites is YouTube.

      Over the years I have been proud to lead some government online video projects such as

      It’s a bit old now and the video is very small, but you can see the idea.

      I would like to see some funding for fed gov video driven projects

      actually, come to think of it, I just would mind some funding full stop. All this talk and I am starting to remind myself that the fed gov has been asleep at the wheel in terms of supporting online projects

      • 2009 August 17

        oops, link here


      • 2009 August 17

        I believe there is a big myth going around that video is too expensive to even consider, when in fact the technology developments – in particular around HTML5 video – in the last 2 years has been enormous. Also, the resource requirements for videos have come down fast. I am always shocked to see so little mention of video and always just in “passing-by”. Hopefully we can in future cover the whole breadth of communication means, including audio and video, and not just 175 character text (i.e. the current twitter craze).

    • 2009 August 17
      Gordon Grace permalink

      [Federal] Government videos that I believe should exist (but don’t yet, AFAIK):

      > How to vote
      > What to expect when passing through customs (yes, there will be dogs)
      > What to expect when passing through security checkpoints
      > Applying for citizenship
      > Applying for a passport
      > How to attend parliament as a visitor
      > How secure online services work
      > Or other frequently-requested government services

      I wonder how many phone calls / emails to government departments may be able to be answered by some of these high-traffic videos? Distributing video with high-production values, conforming the highest possible standards of accessibility (WCAG2-AAA video, anyone?) is expensive and time-consuming, but these highly-sought-after resources may well justify the time and expense.

      In general, I think that videos can be enormously valuable assets to complement / augment traditional policy and procedure, particularly where the audience is likely to either:

      (a) Be confronting a complex issue for the first time;
      (b) Be unconvinced of the value of a particular service / delivery method; or
      (c) Require the citizen to physically attend / perform an action to receive a service

      Most of these suggestions are citizen- or service-focused. Unfortunately, most government videos I see cropping up rarely deviate from the talking-head format (which has its place).

      • 2009 August 17

        These are some great ideas for topics where videos can help.

        I actually think a lot of videos should not be looked at from the point of view of how much their production costs, but from the point of view of how much money they can save.

        A good instructional video will answer a lot of questions people will have about processes. Frequent video news will keep people up-to-date on current developments.

        Instead of wasting the time of already busy government employees, these videos will prepare people with the right information to make processes work smoothly and thus save a lot of money.

    • 2009 August 22

      I just had an idea for a nice pilot project.

      Every government agency has some video that could go on the Website or even better be published through YouTube (or another social video network) and re-embedded. (BTW: Not all videos should be uploaded to YouTube, but for those that should be spread widely and be available it makes a lot of sense. US government even has special arrangements with such sites:

      The project that I’m thinking about provides a cross-agency site for government video resources, something like a govtube (similar to This should include YouTube channels, but also if possible other videos and video sites, since YouTube’s limitation to 10 min long videos is rather restrictive. It should also include search.

      To create some examples of good use of videos and to activate and support the agencies, the project would involve maybe 2-3 agencies that are keen to make better use of videos online. We would help them create a good video strategy, e.g. for educating or communicating with the public, we would help execute it, and make it part of the govtube.

      The pilots determine any obstacles with publishing videos and thus pave the path for other agencies. Ultimately, these pilots are examples for other agencies on what is possible and works

      • 2009 August 23

        sign me up Sylvia, when do I start :)

        I am glad that this ‘data’ discussion has been hijacked by us video nuts.

        The fact is that the development and production process involved in video organically deals with the old “what do we release” questions. A video ends up being the sum total of what is decided in such matters.

        The things that can be done with online video, such as meta data able to be applied at the rate of every 1/15th of a second and any region on the image is mind-boggling in implications.

        As I said at a recent gov 2.0 event, when do we get to play??

      • 2009 August 24
        Mia Garlick permalink

        @syvlia pfeiffer Love your enthusiams for videos but when I read your suggestions re: more online video presence for au gov, I’m not entirely sure we are all starting from the same page with the suggestion about a pilot project for agencies posting online. You are suggesting that knowing how many agencies already have YouTube channels, yes? Below is a list of the au fed gov agencies of which I am aware that have a YouTube channel. Also, if you go the Director route, the 10min limit is not an issue.

        Re: a video channel, we have discussed this internally a little and were not sure if that was preferable over portfolios have discrete channels. Our thinking was that people tend to be interested in particular portfolios, not in government per se so if you have one channel for every govt agency to post to, people may have challenges discovering the videos they are truly interested in; search often requires knowing what you are looking for….what do you think?

        Of course, any suggestions for improvements re: existing online video postings + other video platforms to post to gratefully received…

      • 2009 August 24

        Good points Mia and you may be right on the approach for an increased video driven effort.

        I am not sure about the discover-ability issues you raise. I assume that Silvia would be factoring on the power of tagging, which as you know is actually just metadata with a fancy new verb-like brand.

        The good news, in my eyes, is that one can have both, a central place and lots of ‘feeder’ places from agencies.

        However, your points do raise and issue that reminds me that we indeed should be mindful of any centralised efforts at ‘control’ of the effort not just for its own sake but because it is simply an outdated concept in the 2.0 space.

        Thanks for being part of the conversation, your thoughts are valuable insight into the need to proceed with haste cautiously.

      • 2009 August 24

        @Mia – having common Web infrastructure (””) for aggregating, hosting and streaming video doesn’t preclude each department or government initiative from having its own ‘branded’ video channel, embedding video in their own site or using another site (like YouTube) to host the video, while also enabling us to bring this together in a single site (a portal, if you like). Having a common Web infrastructure might help overcome some of the concerns about privacy etc with using Web services. The only issue might be cost, since obviously companies like Google have massive economies of scale in their business model. Still, it might be worth exploring.

      • 2009 August 24

        @mia, @jimi I have obviously not provided enough details on what I think would give value to citizens with videos.

        I, too, am against portal approaches, where all information is only available on a central site. But aggregation sites that pull data from the individual agencies, display them together, provide statistics around them, link them with other types of information, and thus provide alternative access and richer information is very much a 2.0 concept. I am particularly thinking here of the examples of tweetmp or openaustralia.

        For the video aggregation site, I could for example imagine that it would provide not only which YouTube channels are available for the government agencies (though I think the list that you provided is actually interesting and I am not aware of a location where this list is published). It could, for example, allow crowd-sourcing of captions and audio annotations, it could allow search across all these videos, it could provide statistics, it could provide backlinks to relevant agency webpages, it could provide different browsing abilities – such as per state, per topic, per portfolio – and many more things that I am sure will only occur to us as we start doing it.

        As for searching: it is indeed possible (and we have done so) to index all the textual information available about videos, which includes title, descriptions, tags, but also time-aligned text such as captions and annotations. This can make videos searchable in a very deep way, see for example

        @mia as to your question about whether portfolios or agencies or all-of-government channels should exist and what is more useful to citizens. The simple answer is: a channel should be set up if there is a need for it. It really does not matter whether it is, e.g. about bushfires, or about tax, or the ATO’s channel, or a cursory all-of-government channel.

        I believe even thinking about how to restrict what channels government should be allowed to create is backwards thinking. When somebody sees a need to publish some videos they have that make sense to publish together, and they don’t have a channel available for which the videos would be suitable, I don’t see why they should not be allowed to create a new channel.

        Web 2.0 is about empowering publishers to go ahead and do so – structure can be created on data aggregation sites, which is why I am suggesting a government video aggregation site that can then pull from all channels. BTW: that should include videos not published through YouTube, but e.g. also hosted only on government sites.

        Then, as a citizen looking for a video to help me solve a particular problem, e.g. how to register a business, I can either go to the video aggregation site (let’s call it govtube) and search there, or I can go to google and search there, or I can go to and search there. It’s about choice and about making new access channels available to citizens, many of which will find a video search easier than a text browser/search.

        Note that my proposal included the suggestion to pick 2-3 agencies to help them get started with publishing videos. This is not meant to be restricted to agencies. It could be a portfolio, or a project or any group withing government that has interesting video content to produce and share.

        BTW: YouTube has recently removed the privileges of Directors and now they, too, fall under the 10min limit (

      • 2009 August 24

        again you speak wisdom Silvia

        what and exciting time it is to be alive :)

  16. 2009 August 15
    simonfj permalink

    Could we look at one place where so much time, effort and money has already been spent = The Single Sign On for all citizens. This really is the point where (levels of) access start, and one which must be creating so much confusion for AGIMOO’s strategists, and their equivilants in the space, if they’ve got their institutional hats welded on.

    I don’t mean to criticise anyone here, but could we begin to look past the idea of web sites? Peter mentioned; “GovDex is for crossing areas within Government. I am talking about a directory for inside and outside.” You mean inside and outside institutions (agencies), don’t you peter?

    So the question is, what IS this directory pointing at? I think we might all agree it’s building around (stupid!). But let’s be more specific and say Communities of Practice, which is terminology used in the UN, World Bank, etc, and education. So I’ll just throw in this entry from down at edna, which is the equivilant domain to govdex in the domain. It’s my attempt at involving librarians to classify community IP addresses (globally).

    Lastly, re what silvia says about “doing something like qanda” (although Insight is my preference). Could we start talking about how broadcast and online might complement one another. We can’t expect broadcasters to talk to communities, although some try to work with unis.

    I’m sure the ABC or SBS would be happy to run a .gov2 programme, and then pass it over to an online environment run by this taskforce’s community of practice. There are also (I think) four digital ( channels sitting idle waiting for a roadshow, until the aph committees get their head around them. In the meantime, Pia has done some good stuff for Kate, by herself.

    But you’re doing good guys, except for the fact that you’ve chosen people for the taskforce who seem to have lost their voice; or is it lack of interest?

    • 2009 August 17

      Yes I mean in side and outside departments, agencies and the broader term government. Gov2.0 is about citizen engagement as much as anything so if a hash tag springs up on twitter that gets really heavily used, I’d expect the community (inside or outside the government) that uses it should be allowed to list it in a directory so others can share the value created. Similarly for new platforms and old ones.

      A government run directory service (with minimal barriers to entry) that includes one entry for each of these sources with flexible tags would be highly useful for search engines, citizens, politicians, public servants and more on both sides of any debate to sound out and research the other views and seek innovative contributions.

      You points are partially valid about identity but ‘central id’ is probably never going to work (I agree with Stephen Collins and Kevin Cox largely) because the different purposes have different levels of appropriate security and no one wants a single point of failure or a single choke point on innovation for a mechanism that will last generations and sometimes have lives at stake in medial or national security applications. Similarly no one wants big security burden for trivial (preferably anonymous for zero hassle and maximum privacy) applications.

      Cheers, Pete.

  17. 2009 August 17
    Kevin Cox permalink

    Simon the single sign on for all citizens as envisaged is NOT a good idea which is why it does not get very far. The reason it is not a good idea is citizens do not want their privacy compromised. Single Signons as currently envisaged by the government means that the government has a way of cross checking you across all agencies and leads to the sort of society that we saw so vividly portrayed in “The Last Enemy”.

    It is the reason why even an obviously “good idea” like the Health ID Card will meet a lot of resistance. Fundamentally we do not want governments (or others including google) to be able to cross correlate data about ourselves unless we know about it and unless we give our permission.

    Access to government information should be anonymous but responsible. I have written a little about the mechanics of how to do this and here is a short presentation at

    The critical idea is that individuals own their own electronic ids. The only thing that governments have to do to make this happen is to allow individuals to access their own information and then “single signon” responsible access etc all become possible. As the government under the privacy act is required to give people access to their own information all the legislation is in place. ALL we have to achieve your single signon excellent objective is for government departments that hold personal information allow individuals (and individuals alone or anyone the individual instructs) to access their personal information.

    This approach is compatible with and complementary to the ideas of “openid” and Kim Cameron’s “Laws of Identity” and Microsoft’s infocard.

    You can find out more about it at and search for identity.

    • 2009 August 17

      Agreed, the user/owner managed identity approach will always be both more palatable and more technically possible than unified ID (which is where previous government efforts have headed).

      With a functional identification and authorisation model in place, we could do unified identity. Share and aggregate what you need (core data that everyone has anyway) and authorise release of data points (say a single medical record to each of Medicare, GP, physio, imaging). I actually used this as an example of functional Government 2.0 data management in my keynote at GOVIS in May.

      Single sign-on has and will likely always be problematic for all the reasons Kevin notes. On this one, I have to agree that Simon is headed in the wrong direction.

      Look at the progress things like Google Health and Dell’s heath management services are making in contrast to the disasters NEHTA has (although I hear rumors they are getting their house in some kind of order). Place control with the user and open the data appropriately and you’re on a winning model.

      • 2009 August 17
        Kevin Cox permalink

        We do not have to go to Google and Dell to see the model working. It is here and now in Australia. The new banking product UBank recently launched by NAB uses the idea to verify individuals.

        The next stage will be for people to leave a biometric on their phone and to use their verified phone to conduct transactions. This way we have the convenience of access but we cannot have “The Last Enemy” taking control of identities as we are the ones in complete control of our biometrics and we do not tell them to anyone – except those we love and trust:)

      • 2009 August 21
        simonfj permalink

        Peter, Kevin, Stephen,Rob,

        Thanks for your feedback, particularly about the SSO/unified messaging comparisons and the directory idea. These two have been my interest for the past 8 years; since AGIMO was a NOIE.

        I’m looking at things a bit differently than people who just look at the domain. I’m after an identity that will give a citizen recognition, not hide it, and includes the domain. You’ll be talking about Open Government in the same way others talk about Open Science. The culture has to include both aspects (sectors) if we are to have innovative institutions (and take advantage of cloud/grid technologies).

        I thought though, that this identity horse had already bolted. I remember when $42.4m for AGOSP was committed to, and have tried for the past two years to get a spec, or just some idea of what was going to be delivered earlier this year.

        Have you any idea of what might be going on with the many approaches to ID. Is it a National secret, or is there simply confusion between governments and their many agencies about the best way forward?

    • 2009 August 22
      Kevin Cox permalink


      The Wordpress article is good but it is too complicated. You do NOT need to collect all your data and put it under your control. It is simpler than that. ALL you have to do is to have the right to access it and the rest follows.

      I could not agree more about implementing simple systems. What I am saying is that with a user centric approach that reinforces our existing right to access our data then we can create really simple systems that involve personal data, and also involve people with different characteristics being able to access data.

      We do not have to worry about privacy and about “the wrong” people accessing data if we approach from a user centric point view. That is exactly the point. We do not have to get the government to work out its “approach” to identity management because it is not needed with a user- centric approach.

      I also believe it is not appropriate to define how we are going to classify and describe data. Only say that we should do it in any projects.

      I don’t think we should bother with prototypes but do real small systems that do the minimal set of things needed to access data and do something useful with it. We can do these sorts of projects with very little effort.

  18. 2009 August 17

    Kevin’s slideshare link above is good btw. I don’t know about his specific product suggestion (halfway through it become a bit of a ad) but the principles are largely fair provided multiple providers can be used. In general that are a very worthwhile starting list of use cases for the gov2 identity debate. I’d recommend you view it. Cheers, Pete.

    • 2009 August 17
      Kevin Cox permalink


      It is no good just talking about things. You have to show it working so that people can understand. Our business model is not be “exclusive” but to cooperate with other, what the industry calls “Identity Providers”. It is just that we are the first organisation in Australia with a commercial product that uses the Identity Provider model. All other competitors for identification services use the database lookup approach.

      We want competitors because the concept only works if an individual has a choice on who they use as an identity provider and they will want to use different identity providers for different purposes. We have deliberately not taken any patents out on any of the process ideas because we want competitors because without choice there is a monopoly and people quite rightly distrust monopolies and so will resist the whole concept.

      What has to happen when we have multiple identity providers is for an organisation who uses an identity provider to make sure that the identity providers they use are willing to “talk” to other identity providers so that the same person cannot try to get multiple identities through different providers.

      So the message is that if governments want to use this technology then it is available now and can be implemented “overnight” for any government department that wishes to identify people in a way that fully complies with the Privacy Guidelines. We will be putting in a facility that a user can choose to have single signon for all identifications done through any identity provider. (for your interest we will have one method where you identify yourself to your phone and then the phone acts on your behalf). We can also start deploying a health id system immediately through Identity Providers. The government can then issue Health ID cards, via the person’s epresence, to people who find them useful.

      The other message is that we want to talk to any other Identity providers so that we can stop individuals having multiple identities with the same organisation. Anyone wishing to set up such a service or who has such a service please contact me so we can arrange the protocols necessary to protect government and other organisations who want to use many identity providers.

      As I have mentioned elsewhere I think for government 2.0 to work well people have to be able to be anonymous but with “responsibility”. That is, the government, or others, do not need to who you are when you interact with them but the government needs to know “what you are” and if you break the rules of the system – like slander others – you can be held accountable.

      • 2009 August 22
        Kevin Cox permalink


        In response to your question I think the government and in particular AGIMO are very occupied with how to tackle the identification problem and there is a great deal of debate on what to do.

        There are two conflicting forces. The first is that everyone I have met in the government is truly concerned about and understands the issues of privacy and that government id numbers could easily turn into a defacto Australia Card. On the other hand they know the utility both to the individual, and to the government of being able to link records to better serve citizens. That is why they keep trying to introduce things like the Health ID Card and to structure the rules so that the ID only acts within the health domain and does not become a whole of government ID number.

        The suggestion that I am making is an implementation of the OpenID idea delivered through Identity Providers. The underlying idea is that a person gets identified by their “presence” and their “presence” is delivered through Identity Providers who provide an identity delivery service like any service industry such as Internet Providers, Telecommunications Providers (telcos), Finance providers (banks), etc.

        It turns out that the ONLY requirement for governments to use this approach is to allow individuals to access their own data electronically and to use Identity Providers to provide identity services for the individuals.

        If Governments adopted this approach then people could group their signon’s through different Identity Provider’s rather than have a single signon. That is the user can have multiple single signons if they wish. The only criteria is that must always use the same electronic identity with their dealings with a department.

        Sharing of data now becomes easy and users when they register with an agency or department or any other organisation agree what data held on them in other areas they will share. For example in the health area – it is appropriate for your pharmacist to know your prescription, but not your name and address and your XRay results while it is normally appropriate for your doctor to know most of your health information and record but they really do not need to know your name or address and you should not have to supply those if you do not wish.

        Using a “user centric” approach can be done through Identity Providers who are trusted in the same sense that Internet Providers are trusted not to do the wrong thing like read your emails. The “wrong things” are already covered by the privacy guidelines and the telecommunications acts.

        The advantages and efficiencies are significant and privacy is pretty well guaranteed by being “built into” the system.

      • 2009 August 22
        simonfj permalink


        That couldn’t be more clearer or more succinct. And I certainly can’t disagree with you. But as I said, the horse seems to have bolted. If you don’t believe me, do a search on eds AGOSP and read the evidence. If you want to get into some of the discussions had behind the scenes, do a google on AGOSP Newsletter or AGOSP Design Authority, and look at the cache to work around the closed govdex environment.

        The thing I’m interested in is how this progresses as the inside view=AGOSP= and the outside view =citizen’s presence= lead (hopefully) to establish a new more open culture. I’d love to think that the AGOSP design authority would become open enough to allow people like Stephen to show how things could be done a bit easier and quicker. I’d love to encourage public servants like Peter Alexander NOT to respond by “conducting formal testing with external accessibility experts” and “review our policy on the accessibility support of technologies” again.

        But none of this is possible until insiders/outsiders can share some similar form of ID, so we might make .gov mountains into .community molehills. Until then we’re just talking, and making policy, which won’t change a (officious) culture.

      • 2009 August 22

        simonfj, kevin, stephen, peter, etc.

        I think the focus on identity (and all of the ethical and emotional issues bound to that) is a natural fly trap.

        It’s really possible to do a very simple prototype project that’s simply focused on User Centred “Authorisation” of use of specific User Centred data.

        It turns the model upside down and gives the power of control to the user and not the department. Yet it makes it easy for departments to integrate it in a safe and phased way with almost no development work to start.

        I really think we should be avoiding “large design up front” programmes with massive consultation processes. Small rapid prototypes that are useful and usable and can easily be discarded if they don’t work or scaled into a bigger system if they do should be the key.

        This is a very small scale open source project that could be completed with very little funding at all.

        “Adoption driven development”!

      • 2009 August 22
        Kevin Cox permalink


        In my opinion govdex is going “down the wrong path” but that is understandable because there have not been alternative models available. People still think about the security of data transmission and think that once you have a token that represents a person then all will be solved. That is the old idea of the “certificate” being the representation of the person.

        People are a lot more complicated than that and a certificate is not enough. Certificates are useful for securing data transmission but it tells you nothing about who is accessing the certificate. I think that is the mistake being made with the Health ID Card.

        We have been building an Identity Provider for five years and it has been operating commercially for 18 months with functionality being added all the time. We have been working with one of the major banks for the past 9 months and It has been adopted and deployed in the last few weeks. It is being trialed by many other large financial institutions. The banks are very interested in sharing verification of individuals between each other but they do not want any other bank to know anything about their customers so they cannot agree on federation. We can provide the capability of sharing verification without revealing anything of the other bank. Of course if we can do it with the banks then we can do it with government. That is the government could share in the banks verification and vice versa in a privacy friendly way. We are working on getting the banks and gov together to agree to share verifications. It is so obviously in the interests of all concerned including the individual that it will happen.

        This can all go on independently of govdex. When govdex is widely operational then we can ask individuals if they wish to link it to the banks system via whatever electronic mechanism the government gives them to access their own data. It will probably be a website. However, we would hope that the government will provide more secure and appropriate methods like a webservice.

        Gov 2 is an opportunity for the government to speed up adoption of what is happening in the commercial world. I think governments will join in sooner or later because we get a lot of citizens saying “why can’t the government do the same sort of identification”. Any federal, state or local agency can use the approach independently of anyone else and many are just waiting to see someone else do it first. We might get a task force project to lead the way?

        We are happy to work with anyone who has an application where different people can see different data or with anyone – including other Identity Providers – to build one or more demonstration systems. For example if you can prove that you are a government employee in a particular area then you may need to get a different view of a data set than the general public. For example a policeman needs to see which street address a crime occurred while for the general public and other government departments perhaps they only need to see which “area” a crime occurred.

        Or an individual needs to be able to see their own education records so they can deliver them securely to another education or employer organisation. However, researchers only need to the numbers not the names.

        The same thing applies with commercially sensitive data like sales of products. The governments attempts at Grocery Choice was hampered by who could put in the data and how accurate it was. Perhaps Grocery Choice could be done by volunteers getting an electronic receipt of their regular grocery shopping and inputting the data themselves without revealing who they were or even which shop they shopped at,

      • 2009 August 22

        Kevin, regarding the Grocery Choice issue…you should checkout and

  19. 2009 August 17


    I’m kinda confused and hopefully some of this will be resolved at the roadshow…but many of the posts from the taskforce seem to be “yet another tangent”…including this one.

    I’ve seen a lot of good suggestions here on this site, via twitter and via other blogs, starting with Cath’s simple and practical post which I think was the very first.

    I’ve even made a few tangible ones myself:

    I’ve even tried to kick off a discussion on twitter using the #datagovau hashtag to catalogue the existing data sets/APIs that exist:

    But where is all of this work by all of these participants being catalogued, collated and reviewed. Can WE all get involved in this process please?

    I think it would be much more productive and much more 2.0 if the community itself were able to review and rate the collated suggestions. At the moment it feels like it’s all happening behind closed doors – if at all.

    Also, it would really be much better if there were some form of structured data that suggestions could conform to. Leaving us no option other than random blog posts, comments and tweets seems to me to be creating more chaos instead of less.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see the competitions you’ve listed and a hackfest/camp/whatever…but I’d also like to see ALL of this discussion heading towards some useful collaborative structure. We have all the tools we need already and there’s been no shortage of engagement from the community. Let’s not waste all of this effort and enthusiasm.

    Why wait for a hackfest/competition/grouphug/meatspacethingo…why not use the tools we’re all talking about in a much more rigorous way.

    And to all the other people reading this…if this isn’t forthcoming from the taskforce…let’s do it ourselves.

  20. 2009 August 17
    Neil Henderson permalink

    Great post from Rob above. Must admit I would like to udnerstand where all of this conversation is going…….hopefully not the recycle bin.
    Or, maybe this blog is simply the modern soapbox?

  21. 2009 August 17
    Bec permalink


    Bec – You may find the following useful, courtesy of

    > Latest Media Releases (All Portfolios) (RSS)

    > Latest Media Release RSS Feeds (Per Portfolio)

    > Latest Media Releases (All Portfolios) (HTML)

    > Media Release Pages by Portfolio

    > OPML file of agency media release RSS feeds

    These feeds aren’t perfect by any means – agencies have a lot of variety in their writing style, use of structured data, etc. – but they may be a good start or a decent rallying point.

    Gordon, if there was a wiki available for web designers and developers to share I’m sure I would have been exposed to that already, however, I hadn’t even noticed had an RSS feed until you mentioned it. So is the taskforce going to arrange this? I’ve seen many people suggest it but haven’t heard of any commitment from the taskforce to push for it!

    • 2009 August 19
      Gordon Grace permalink


      I’m not 100% sure what you’re asking for, but here’s some resources that I think may assist.

      > AGIMO’s Web Publishing Guide [presently under review] (and, specifically, RSS)
      > Web Managers Community of Practice Mailing List

      While there’s no ‘Aust. government web designers wiki’ that I’m aware of at this point in time, plenty of additional potential tools could spring up to promote an ongoing forum for web practitioners within government (a blog/forum/GovDex community to augment the Web Publishing Guide, for example).

      I hadn’t even noticed had an RSS feed until you mentioned it.

      Discoverability of RSS feeds within government sites appears to occur via several means:
      1. in the (Huzzah! Automatic discovery by [almost] any browser younger than IE6!)
      2. Subtle orange icons in the footer
      3. Obscure acronyms in the footer
      4. Huge icons in the page header

      Given the primary target audiences of, we’ve opted for #1, #2 and a little of #3. Those who want a feed can discover it, those who don’t care for them (or don’t understand them) aren’t distracted by them.

      Full Disclaimer:
      I’m presently working within AGIMO on the Web Publishing Guide review and, and sit next to the team looking after the day-to-day operations of GovDex.

      • 2009 August 19
        Gordon Grace permalink

        Correction (whoops! tags get stripped!):

        1. In the html head

  22. 2009 August 19
    Bec permalink

    Gordon, I only go to if I really need to or any government website for that matter. So whilst RSS feeds may be noticed by website users, it can go unnoticed by teams in government. If only that RSS feed available within been promoted to agencies and usage encourage to feed in content on government websites, it’d be way more effective.

    The other day I was disappointed to find out that had no RSS feed that we could use to pull tenders listed under our agency into our own website as it was not desired to simply link to alone. Agencies will always want content in their own look / feel. So much opportunity for government to share data…

    • 2009 August 19
      Gordon Grace permalink

      If only that RSS feed available within been promoted to agencies and usage encourage to feed in content on government websites

      What promotion method do you feel would be most effective? acts as something of an aggregator of government services / information / feeds / etc. As such, the media release feeds are merely aggregations of harvested media release items from agencies (which may or may not appear as RSS feeds on an agency site).

      Interestingly, some agencies have chosen to re-use (syndicate may be too strong a word) per-portfolio media releases on their own sites. In that case, we appear to be acting like a ‘format shifter’.

      The other day I was disappointed to find out that had no RSS feed that we could use to pull tenders listed under our agency into our own website as it was not desired to simply link to alone.

      I couldn’t agree more. You may want to add your suggestion to this post

  23. 2009 August 20
    asa letourneau permalink

    Why don’t we create a web2.0 environment where people can access government information in ways which will encourage them to debate, deconstruct and ultimately re-shape government policy. Wouldn’t it be great if young people had the tools, the data and the functionality at their finger tips to actually get excited about the possibility of making a difference.

    Imagine being able to pull, or ‘drag and drop’ or ‘google map’ or ‘blog’ or ‘twitter’ or ‘thatthingthathasn’tbeendevelopedyet’ together information about your community, suburb, city, town, state, country, street which enables you to argue for an alternate viewpoint e.g.
    i) petitioning the government to build a new high school to meet the needs of a growing community based on data, forward projections, ‘modeling’ made publicly available and ‘mashable’ c/o the GOVERNMENT

    Imagine an environment that encourages everyone (those ‘born’ digital and those born analogue) to create new ‘bits of fucntionality’ that help people create their own policy and counter-policy?

    Responsible Government.

    • 2009 August 21
      Kevin Cox permalink

      Great idea. Imagine an interactive atlas of community services showing persons per tennis court, skate board parks per age cohort, public transport facilities per person, density of suicides, road accidents, perhaps even alerts when a robbery occurs in your neighbourhood.

  24. 2009 August 20
    asa letourneau permalink

    set your data free… add an api to help it fly

  25. 2009 August 22

    Tell us… which agencies you think are doing government 2.0 well so we make sure they get the nomination form for the contest.

    National Archives has been mentioned a few times for the engaging mashup Mapping our Anzacs.

    I’d like to mention another lesser-known project, which also depended on access to collection data, and which has taken major steps into new territory in terms of data visualisation and findability – The visible archive. This was preliminary research so the two major ‘outputs’ are prototypes, not full implementations. (This project is absolutely ripe for further funding ;-) ) But if you’re comfortable playing around with the applets – using the instructions for how to drive and how to read what you see – and especially if you have at least a sketchy understanding of the Commonwealth Series System, you will glimpse the potential power of this approach. Check out both the series browser and the A1 explorer, either via the National Archives or (for more detail and various iterations), via Mitchell Whitelaw’s project blog. Or you could see my blog post about it here.

  26. 2009 August 24
    Bec permalink

    Why don’t we create a web2.0 environment where people can access government information in ways which will encourage them to debate, deconstruct and ultimately re-shape government policy. Wouldn’t it be great if young people had the tools, the data and the functionality at their finger tips to actually get excited about the possibility of making a difference.

    Agreed Asta… people learn and innovate better with practical examples that are well documented!!!

    It’s also easier to push for approval with stakeholders as they always likely to go with the flow.

  27. 2009 August 24

    How about taking it back to basics and taking a whole of government approach?

    James Dellow’s mention of Mash The State is right on the money. Challenge all levels of government, Federal, State and Local (State and local seem to be missing in all these discussions) to institute 1 basic rss feed on their site. Simple, basic and improves access out of sight!

    One thing about video that seems to be missing from the discussion: When people from regional/remote areas are still struggling with mobile coverage outside the immediate boundaries of town, then video is way down the list of useful technologies!

    • 2009 August 24

      stuffed my url…fixed it is

    • 2009 August 24

      Reem, video can be delivered in low bandwidth environment very cleverly and the benefits are worth the extra work to ensure accessibility.

      Also, NBN rollout will improve things as we go forward and we should be getting underway on the hard work of deploying video based community engagement

      • 2009 August 24

        @reem, I agree with @jimi – it’s not the gov 2.0’s challenge to fix bandwidth to peoples home, but the NBN’s challenge.

        However, let’s develop some applications that will actually make the use of NBN in currently less well connected areas useful. It would be a shame if we created the NBN, but had nothing at all to show off for what people were not able to get beforehand and are now able to receive.

      • 2009 August 24

        @Silvia Pfeiffer @Jimi Bostock I’d love to have as much faith in the NBN as you both appear to, but while we currently have Telstra not upgrading local exchanges to provide broadband to parts of places like Broken Hill (not an insubstantial sized regional town) then you’re dreaming!
        I’m not saying it’s the task of the Gov 2.0 Taskforce to fix connectivity, but this major issue needs to be kept in mind.
        How is Gov 2.0 relevant to people outside of the cities, not accessing Federal Government information all the time, but rather, interacting with their local councils and community groups?
        Having just hosted the Local Government Web Network conference here in Sydney, I had an opportunity to speak with many delegates from rural/regional NSW who just didn’t see how this stuff applied to them day to day when they still can’t get decent connectivity! Both telephone and internet.
        We need to be much more realistic, practical and dare I say it, down to earth with the discussion around Gov 2.0 and it’s relevance to different parts of the community.

      • 2009 August 24

        Reem, I do understand what you are saying but video, per se, is not a inhibitor. We can do things these days such as detect a low bandwidth and use stills and text to give a video-like experience

        Anyways, i do not think that the lowest denominator should necessarily stop any innovation. I don’t have a blue-ray yet but people do and studios release movies in blue-ray and standard.

        There is not as big a difference here as you seem to suggest.

        Should we ask YouTube to cease and desist because some people can’t see it.

        After all, half of the world still have not made a phone call and so the arguments you put are spurious. I say get these poor people computers and bandwidth ASAP but I also say that no-one should be able to dictate to me what I innovate on the basis of issues that, slowly but surely, r being dealt with.

        This is not a sprint, its a marathon and people have different fitness levels and you can’t hold back the fittest.

        I hope the TF backs innovation across the web 2.0 space and with particular focus on multiple-experience architecture to ensure that all are served well including rural and regional, aged, disabled, and getting older folks like me who are loosing their sight.

      • 2009 August 24

        @reem I agree that there is a big challenge with giving connectivity to areas that don’t currently have it. But is it the task of the Gov 2.0 task force to make that happen? I would think not.

        Is it the task of the Gov 2.0 task force to think about ways in which these people could participate in Gov 2.0 activities? Maybe – if we can think of a way in which Gov 2.0 can be brought to such areas without a need for connectivity. Maybe through the provisioning of a Kiosk in their local administrative centre that has a satellite connection? And where there is low connectivity, we can use low bandwidth video or alternatives as @jimi suggested.

        I don’t think though that we should run the class according to the qualifications of the weakest child, but that we need to push the capabilities of the strongest child to have a real impact and make a real difference through the task force.

      • 2009 August 24
        asa letourneau permalink

        totally agree with jimi that we need to keep the discussions broad and brave…look forward to the use of new technologies to democratize accessibility and usability…also looking forward to those conversations that counterweight discussions about technology with discussions about web2.0 sociology…i.e. how we will change and be changed by the technology…no doubt this will all happen so fast that we may end up describing it after the fact…looking into a rear vision mirror…seeing a gov2.o landscape where the public and the public service bleed into one another?

      • 2009 August 25

        Guys, I’m not disagreeing with you at all, and video is just one small part of the technology around this, but we have to broaden the base and level the playing field a bit. If this is meant to be a citizen centric exercise, shouldn’t we be focusing on all citizens, not just the tech savvy ones?
        I don’t believe that all the ideas around Gov 2.0 are all about technology. Most of them are about changing our underlying assumptions about how we interact with government in any way, both face to face, on the phone etc…
        Please don’t think I’m dissing video because I’m not. I’m just saying please be mindful of the silent majority.

  28. 2009 August 25
    simonfj permalink


    Thanks for the link to the (NSW) conference, and the reminder that there are some people still left in the outback. I’ll just reinforce the blending of new and old technology. It’s obvious, but Video, for most, still means “the box”, pod means “the radio” and a phone network or operating system is a gateway to close off progress.

    Government has been reduced to mean “delivering services” by heavily fortressed bishoprics, via three layers of heirarchy, whose only communications are about the divi-ing up of the public purse.

    I exaggerate to make the point but gov 2 is about ( I think) systemising what combination(s) of ICT will provide remote communities with the greatest utility, and integrate the communication of their ideas and aspirations. (I’ve read books that say government , once-upon-a-time, was about bringing communities together.)

    We’re closing to the point where collaborative medias (of which the web is a subset) and broadcast medias still can’t, together, find a sustainable business case unless one can find an advertiser to ‘buy’ the editorial.

    I was reading Des’s comment on another domain and thread about crossing borders sounds like a nice idea. But maybe we could go one more step and see about getting rid of a few borders, starting with the aggregation of the contents of similar domains, and their secretariats.

    Looking at the higgledy piggledy threads on this, and other, blogs, maybe they could hack and mash some combinations of a few old and new C tools, cause all we read about are the new I ones..

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