Talking about the power of information

A late invitation arrived today from the Ideal Government folk to come to what turned out to be a fascinating evening discussing the democratisation of information and how government might participate in the online social media world.

Around the table were a sprinkling of policy officials, technologists and representatives from organisations who work with government to deliver its IT. Without divulging too much (the event was conducted under Chatham House rules (or rule) and discussed work whose conclusions haven’t all yet been announced) the thoughts aired included:

  • what’s the potential value to the economy of allowing free access to government data currently only available commercially, such as land registry mapping? (Consensus seemed to be more than current estimates and far more than the loss of revenue)
  • How does government participate in online social networks? Does it’s authority mean much to users who seem to prefer using towards independent online communities?
  • How does government behave with these independent outfits? How can it support them when they often depend on the enthusiasm and passion of a small group of volunteers who might run out of steam and ideas in six months time?

Great to hear thoughts that this stuff is really important, incredibly challenging for government, we don’t know the answers but we’ve got to try. Hear, hear.
I shan’t say any more, as I’m sure Ideal Government’s own account will be more detailed than mine (at least, they took notes which is more than I did).

They also presented an interesting revision of the Cluetrain manifesto for government. hope William posts it on his blog, I’m sure Paul Caplan (who has been known to use the same device a few times before) would appreciate it.

Thanks William and Ruth for the invite, I’ll try and say a bit more of substance if there is ever a rematch but it was just nice to listen to the views of the others around the table this evening.

  1. Jeremy

    It was a pleasure and your swift write-up is just the right follow up. I should add I thought you exemplified an important principle by saying nothing for the entire evening. When I asked you right at the end if you had any comment you said it would good idea for government to use the social media to listen. As I was walking home that struck me as spot on! Good to meet you. W

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