MyLifeMyID and an interesting comment here

In an earlier post I spoke about the MyLifeMyID website that had been set up for 16 to 25 year olds to have a little explore around the feelings over personal identity cards. There was much noise about how messages were being handled and how the information was being used.

Today, Ray Poynter – a moderator on the site – posted the following comment here:

Hi, I am one of the Admins at mylifemyid. I notice that there has not been a post since 17 July, does that mean people think things are getting better?

If you are 16-25 then we would love to hear your views, and if you look at the site you will see that they are not all pro!

Off you go, people – I told you they were listening 🙂

7 responses

  1. Emma,

    I left a comment on the original thread:

    but it’s worth pointing out here. Ray Poynter is NOT “one of the admins”. he is a director and owner of the company running the lamentable exercise. It is this lack of honesty (other examples – – where other directos of VirtualSurveys were posing as students) that cost the Home Office integrity.

  2. Ah… herein lies the rub/value. No point pretending to be someone you are not.

    However, er… the harm here is what exactly? Roy Poynter may have not been totally up front about who he was, but what he IS doing is asking for opinion, inviting people to collaborate and discuss their issues on the MyLifeMyID website.

    There is no money to be made from garnering this information for Roy, there is no ‘insider dealing’.

    So IMHO, the fact that someone in such a position in the company is listening to what people are saying, finding out where they are saying stuff – I do not know him, so he did not find this site through me 🙂 – is asking for more feedback, inviting people to continue to talk openly (hopefully without censorship), can only be a good thing.

    By jumping in Daily Wail fashion: aha we know your true identity (which cannot have been too carefully hidden), we risk losing the openness we fight for.

    I personally think that this is the wrong fight to pick. Who knows, perhaps Roy IS an admin? As well as being the guy who runs the joint.

    Personally, I really, honestly do not see this as a ‘lamentable exercise’. Government always runs some kind of customer insight work before, during and after anything big, and I would class ID cards as big – they just happened to use social media tools in a rather amateurish way. This is not deplorable, it is regrettable – as there are many of us here in government, departments and otherwise, who could have done a better job.

    However, the baby steps that are being taken will be very quickly packed back into a bureaucratic box if the first steps are wholly rounded upon and criticised, when the intent is a good one. And I believe it is.

  3. The point is that the Home Office set up MyLifeMyID as a research project and unfortunately for them not many people believed them. The comments on this blog and on the site itself show that the majority of participants felt it was a sham exercise. They “have no doubt that the sole purpose of this site was to produce a statistic the Home Office can use to totally bend the truth and tell us we (the student population) are broadly in favour of something in actuality a huge number are completely opposed.”

    The practice of planting comments as a student when in fact you are the MD of the research company, of commenting on blogs “as one of the admins” when in fact you are a director of the company is not going to inspire confidence in the research (and hardly within the MRS guidelines) and if an ID database is going to welcomed it has to inspire confidence. This is something that the general population (and even some ex-ministers – John Reid) do not have in the Home Office.

    The point is that if the Home Office want people to have confidence in them and they are going to use Web2.0 methods to help do that then not being clear about who is who, is not going to help.

  4. Mmhm… well, if this IS the case and fake personas have been created to seed good responses, then that is a scandal. But surely the beauty of social media is that the voice of the community will act very quickly to 1. expose them and 2. voice their true opinion.

    Who knows whether the majority of students are against this. I don’t. I would expect, after reasoned debate, to have an idea.

    The use of a website to begin such a debate is fine – the department is stating its position. Then *real* students, anyone who chooses to comment, can do so. It is scandalous if there are people pretending to be someone else, especially if they are people in the company running the exercise and this would negate any contract the department has with the business running this, I am sure. Just to be clear, I have nothing to do with this, but I do have much experience in speccing and hiring outside agencies for government work, and believe you me, the contracts and caveats are extensive and no way would they endorse or condone false research results. Just would not happen.

  5. I don’t know enough about the detail of this particular project, but I know Virtual Surveys reasonably well and rate their integrity and ethics highly. I suspect this is a fairly new area for them as it is for most of the rest of us.

    Starting with an open online deliberative exercise on the topic of ID cards is… brave to say the least. I’d like to know what their learnings are from this, as well as what constraints there have been on the project.

    Apart from a few experts like Shane perhaps, I think lots of us are feeling our way when it comes to more deliberative (as opposed to just completely open-ended) discussions online. Looking at it dispassionately, there just are lots of misconceptions around the facts of this particular policy. So if the tools of online debate can be used to present evidence and gauge reaction, follow a thread of discussion to its conclusion, weigh competing claims etc, then there’s the potential for it to become really interesting. It may not be an open-ended discussion on a policy yet to be decided, but that doesn’t in itself render it invalid as long as it’s presented in the right way – i.e. we can refine ideas through online debate, as well as brainstorm them.

  6. Steph, I value what you are saying. I am sure that your work in the COI has brought you far more extensive experience than I in outsourcing projects such as this.

    You are right, it is very important to quickly publish, or make public, the intent and results of this exercise – at the same time, learn 🙂

  7. Hi, I am Ray, and yes I am one of the admins. You need to be 16-25 years old to contriubute (or be an Admin or moderator), but anybody can read what is there. Shane, have a look at the conversations and don’t be fixated on what happend during the first few days, we all have learning curves.

    If you look at my contributions, and I mean at all of them, you will see that I mention I am a director and that I am way older than 25, not only that but I am using my own name, which means anybody can Google me and see that I am several things, including a share holder, including being a director, and most certainly being an Admin.

    I think, if you look at comments on the site and across the blogosphere there is a growing awareness of what the project is and what it offers, and what it does not offer.

    Parliament has voted, the ID scheme is going ahead. The Government is consulting on the programme (and on Identity in general). People opposed to the ID scheme would probably prefer the site to be a mechanism to stop the scheme from happening, but it is not, it is a conultative piece of research.

    But, as more than one of the regular contributors has pointed out, at least on mylifemyid the scheme’s opponents are getting to talk to a wider group of people, most of the threads are their threads. As one of them said, and I paraphrase, on No2ID we are just singing to the choir.

    We are establishing mutual benefit. The Government is getting a rich collection of views, many of them negative about the scheme, but nevertheless containing value. The members are getting a chance to be herd and to determine part of the discourse.

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