UK Gov Getting into the Web…?!

Last week I posted about An Example Netvibes Dashboard for the Digital Britain Interim Report on WriteToReply on Actually…, the WriteToReply blog.

It seems that there’s also an official (?) Digital Britain Pageflakes dashboard too (nice to see some WTR feeds make it on there;-):

And it seems that the Cabinet Office are also using Netvibes, along with a whole host of feed powered goodness on a public dashboard being used to support the Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use: Government Action Plan:

Here’s how it’s described:

To help bring together the online debate around this Action Plan, we’ve set up a public page which contains links to blog posts, news stories and tweets about UK government, open source and open standards. If you write about this online, please use the tag #ukgovOSS to help us find your comment.

Although the ukgovOSS Action Plan was only published yesterday, we’ve already re-published it on WriteToReply: WriteToReply: Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use: Government Action Plan., which means there’s lots of lovely feed goodness, an e-book version of the Action Plan, and so on.

I also popped up a quick Netvibes demo tab:

This includes a full feed (via a feed reverser pipe) of the document content – so you can read it within the Netvibes context:

along with separate section level comment feeds pulled in from the WriteToReply website.

As soon as we’ve settled on some “tab patterns”, we’ll start publishing tabs to an official WriteToReply Netvibes page.

We’ve also started talking to the Cabinet Office folks about how we can work with them as part of their outreach site.

One possible way forward is for us to syndicate comments, possibly directly to the Cabinet Office Netvibes page. We already have a sort of precedent for this – WriteToReply comments on the Digital Britain Interim Report are being syndicated on the official Have Your Say: Digital Britain website:

Not bad progress for a couple of weeks worth, methinks?!

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

4 thoughts on “UK Gov Getting into the Web…?!”

  1. There are earlier uses than this too, by DIUS, MOJ and CLG.

    There’s a bunch of us in UK Gov pushing this stuff forward. Inevitably it will take time but we’re making rapid progress.

    If you’re interested in seeing what else has been going on check out the 2008 and 2009 Barcamps for UK gov web enthusiasts and this case study aggregator.

  2. Thanks for the pointers, Neil – I was rushing to get the post out and didn’t dig back as far as I should have done…

    CLG – Communities and Local Government(?)
    http://www.communities.gov.uk/

    MOJ – Ministry of Justice(?)
    http://www.justice.gov.uk/

    DIUS – Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills
    http://www.dius.gov.uk/

    A quick trawl turns up:

    http://www.netvibes.com/diuscommunications
    http://www.pageflakes.com/ewp

    I couldn’t find anything from the MOJ though?

  3. Nice work as always, Tony.

    I have to gingerly own up to the Open Source Netvibes page too – with the brief I was given, it seemed like a sensible response to help aggregate debate whilst not over-egging the consultative nature of this document (it’s a statement of policy, after all).

    I think a simple, public aggregator of online debate is probably a wise building block for almost any digital engagement. But I suppose what you’ve shown with Write to Reply (and Big City Plan Talk did too) is that we in government don’t get to decide any more what’s consultative and what isn’t.

    Now, in this case, the minister chose to launch it and ask informally for feedback. Given the nature of the audience, a simple tag is probably fine – open source folks tend to have their own conversational spaces online. But more generally, once documents have been taken by civil society organisations like yours and made commentable, there’s something of a moral obligation for government at least to listen to that debate, if not engage actively with it. Perhaps we’re learning that policy is conversation, not publication.

    p.s. The MoJ example Neil mentions is private to their team for now, but having seen it, it takes the online dashboard to a new level of relevance and value. Truly good stuff, again with virtually entirely free tools.

  4. @steph “I have to gingerly own up to the Open Source Netvibes page too” Good on you… :-)

    “I suppose what you’ve shown with Write to Reply (and Big City Plan Talk did too) is that we in government don’t get to decide any more what’s consultative and what isn’t.”

    That’s a nioe observation. @simonperry of Ventnor Blog has also suggested to me that the growth in online tools has made it easier for people to come together and develop “action groups” around issues.

    As to consultative – is it also a sign that people see things like policy not so much as “complete”, but rather as evolving (“perpetual beta”)? And therefore something that is likely to benefit from ongoing engagement?

    “more generally, once documents have been taken by civil society organisations like yours and made commentable, there’s something of a moral obligation for government at least to listen to that debate, if not engage actively with it. Perhaps we’re learning that policy is conversation, not publication.”

    Yes – and I can see this may be problematic for government. Which is why one of the things I want to explore with WTR is how we can make it easy to track the comments and discussion that is going in, and provide dashboard or summary views for the policy makers to give them an overview of what’s being said.

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