Admidst all the excitement of yesterday’s launch of the UK Government’s data repository, Data.Gov.UK, there was one tweet I failed to send up front. Congratulations! Congratulations to the team behind this huge undertaking. I apologise for not being clear enough about this up front. As I tweeted at the time:
I most definitely regularly fall into the second category and as a result forgot the most important thing – to recognise the hard work that has gone into this project.
At the same time, I do still stand by other comments I made on Twitter yesterday and previously (and by the comments of others such as Paul Clarke).
Above all alse, my main issues is with communications in the open government and digital engagement space. On the whole it is pretty dire. Until we as the government community learn to more effectively translate our techie enthusiasm into real world meaning, we can never expect to achieve the mainstreaming of Gov 2.0 that we all claim to want.
Sure one of the main audiences is the Geeks. But take this Guardian article for instance, an amazing opportunity to reach a far wider audience. But with phrases like “a platform built quickly using agile project management to provide a core capability”, how can we ever expect the rest of the civil service to engage let alone the wider public. Time to put the geeky evangelism to one side for a minute and get engaging.
Aside from this, I stand by the fact that the people behind this work need to start to walk the walk in terms of the organisational culture they are looking to achieve. Still wedded to behind closed door development, direct messages over Twitter rather than open conversations and exclusive launch events for the in crowd (something which may now be behind me I fear!), until honesty and openness is at the heart of everything the people at this leading edge do nothing will change. Why not openly talk about the competitive advantage taskforce member Nigel Shadbolt’s company may get from the implementation of RDF? Why not publish the exact cost of the data.gov.uk project? Again as I tweeted yesterday:
But again putting all that to one side, let me leave you in no doubt that what the Cabinet Office team have achieved through data.gov.uk is nothing short of remarkable. Masses of data pulled together with the community for the community (of developers) that begins to provide a way for British citizens to get to grips with their government.
Next stop – effective communications and culture change…