Goodbye Tom

Tom Watson announced his intention to resign from goverment today – and that’s sad. Politics aside (for a moment).

Tom was great for us in the digital space because he *got it*. He spent time understanding the digital portfolio, and more than that – he had the talent, guts and skills to create change through support, encouragement and sometimes direct JFDI.

I am not remotely reticent in extending my thanks and appreciation to this Minister for all the work he has done in the digital space.

For sure great things will happen from now on, the work does not stop; but I think it would be churlish not to recognise the fact that he has championed civil servants, experts, talented amateurs and enthusiasts throughout the last few years; and that has had a huge impact on the attitude of those geeks and experts inside and outside of government: keen but often disillusioned – to re-engage.

Thanks

So Directgov took up the challenge

Tom Watson MP challenged Directgov on Twitter to:

Tom_watson @direcgov Today for example – wouldn’t it be the day you change the front page to give a host of travel info feeds and up to date advice?

Directgov @tom_watson heard loud and clear

Tom_watson @Directgov Very glad to hear it. I’ve just purchased www.schoolclosures.org.uk Fancy rising to the challenge for tomorrow morning?

Tom_watson @Directgov that should say schoolclosures.org.uk If you did it for tomorrow am, you’d be heroes.

A few hours ago:

http://innovate.direct.gov.uk/2009/02/03/school-closures-%E2%80%93-a-better-way/

Tom_watson @Directgov, I salute you. Utterly brilliant turnaround: http://is.gd/idfX More on school closures and humble pie here: http://bit.ly/39aljD

That’s how it is done. H/T to the ever clever Paul Clarke who was able to swing into action, even though he was also crowdsourcing for snow 🙂

There are problems with the Beta site for school closures, you need to refresh the page to get a response, and the results depend on the schools themselves or you lot in the know to update the information – so… anyway the point is that it was done.

Lovely.

Update: SHOCKING behaviour on my part, I completely ignored @brianhoadley who led the development of the Directgov innovations site and the development of the app for school closures, I am so so sorry Brian! Being a div, staying at home going slightly mental.

twitter update – (warning: this post makes no sense unless you understand @hubmum)

Well now, ever since Jonathan Ross (@wossy) and Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) ‘broke’ the twitter thing on @wossy’s comeback show, twitter seems to have gone bonkers.

I have had a difficult relationship with it – detailed on this blog here and here and I banged on for a bit in various related posts not worth bringing up again. I could wang on about the context of this post, but am going to limit it to 140 chars, my twitter journey:

@hubmum curiosity, disdain, exasperation, overuse, grumpy, laughing, work value, inspiration, grudging admiration, acceptance, value

Over the weekend the Power of Information report was launched on twitter for review, I know that it was ‘set live’ elsewhere but it set twitter alight, not least for @tom_watson‘s incessant tweeting (and direct messaging) about it. (Not so much fun, as it really meant homework for the geeky kids, but still… it was a good place to show it off and get the attention of those who cared).

Then there was the out-pouring of information about the UKGovBarCamp09, stories breaking, blog posts being slutted, a wealth of information. By Sunday I had trimmed my list of people I followed (including losing @wossy I am afraid) to the people of value to me at work, and also those who just keep me sane.

Last night it became about snow… we get terribly excited about snow, and quite right too, (my flickr stream of the chronically brilliant snow we enjoyed today: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mulquem/sets/72157613229704253/). Then @paul_clarke asked his followers to fill in a twitter formula for reporting snow, mark out of ten (I don’t know if he did this alone): hash tag uksnow first part of your postcode followed by a mark out of ten, so for me (if my tweets weren’t protected): @hubmum #uksnow GU1 5/10. @benmarsh picked this up and created a mashup of the snow reports from the UK.

Today it was snow, yes, plus school and trains… for me. I knew that my daughters’ school would use the clarion call text system to let us know about whether there was any respite today from the excitement: there wasn’t, but I also needed to know if I was able to get in to work: I couldn’t. I did however abuse @directgov by twitter for not giving me more travel information – seeing as all of the travel sites crashed – and received direct messages assuring me that they were working on it: v gd use of twitter; might not give me the information I needed, but I knew that someone was at the other end of my frustration and was doing something about it.

@tom_watson then challenged @directgov to carry information about schools that were open or shut, starting a maelstrom of advice and an acceptance of the challenge from @directgov. Let’s see what happens now…

My list of ‘friends who keep me sane’, (including weirdly @paulcarr who is definitely not sane), kept me amused with their increasingly ridiculous twitpic attempts to outdo eachother in the alternative snowman competition that developed during the day.

Because many people were similarly trapped at home, the conversations happening on twitter about stuff that interested me, by the people I respect enabled me to work, to completely understand what is happening in this space, tweets and RTs were coming in by the minute, I felt that I was fully conversant in what is happening right now.

Although this was happening on twitter, I was also able to take my children out every few hours, answer emails (deal with the backlog) and complete my meetings by teleconference… then catch up again.

During one such outing to the slopes of Guildford I missed the exciting news that techcrunch (@mbites) had written about @directgov, this was then picked up by @washington_post.

Yet, I feel as if I am becoming a bit spoiled. For example, my sister told me (on facebook) that getting through the day at home demanded Jeremy Kyle on repeat; so I had him on in the background, but he was doing a ‘lie detector’ session rather than the more compelling ‘DNA test’. The indulged ‘me’ wanted to tweet the programme organisers to say that I was more in the mood for ‘DNA testing’, please, to keep me going through the day. Hmm even I can see that this demand was not going to be met… so I feel a bit guilty about @directgov tbh…

… anyhoo

I am exhausted by writing this post… the point is, twitter is good, it is useful, but watch who you follow and be aware who is following you. Protect your updates until you know how you are going to use it, and NEVER synch it with facebook unless you are: 1. so au fait with this stuff that you only update occasionally to the same audience or 2. use both socially/professionally (same diff).

You would not believe the stuff I have left out, but really, I like you, so I will not RT and overload your brains: make your own minds up.

PS Best twitpic of the day: @littlelaura is best http://twitpic.com/1avrm un-be-lievable…

PPS Best in ‘balanced use of twitter’: @paul_clarke

PPPS No post is complete without a mention of @olibarrett who launched his Make Your Mark with a Tenner ’09 campaign.

PPPPS http://www.twittermoms.com/ = new netmums

PPPPPS I protect my updates, so people have to ask to follow me, in the same way that Facebook offers the same privacy option – sorry

Love

@hubmum

Cabinet reshuffle – what I understand has happened (from my Twitter and Facebook!)

Simon Dickson‘s twitter feed has been invaluable today:

Simon Dickson's Twitter feed

Simon Dickson

The new department’s url has indeed been registered http://www.ja.net/services/whois/lookup.php?query=decc.gov.uk&output=nice by the lovely Daniel De Cruz. But still nothing there yet.

The detail of the new Cabinet is on the Number Ten website.

A facebook update suggested that perhaps Tom Watson MP, our blogging e-Minister, was being re-shuffled. No official word yet, but Jeremy Gould managed to track down one blogging chap for The Telegraph who mentions him in the last paragraph. It says that he will be working on Government strategy. We don’t think this necessarily means that he is no longer the Minister of all things ‘e’, but who knows.

The new Minister for Technology, Telecoms and Broadcasting: Stephen Carter has an interesting history that seems quite apt in this day of financial chaos. Who knows how this will work out, but it will be worth watching. I wonder if the social tools he uses extend beyond golf now.

I don’t pretend to understand politics or politicians – but I am quite into my comms 😉 – so this appointment probably holds the most interest.

Web standards and guidelines for UK Gov websites

Are here: http://www.coi.gov.uk/guidance.php?page=188

Don’t get too excited, much of this is still in consultation (opportunity, folks, to get involved) – for example, the following:

  • Using social media (in consultation)
  • Metadata (in consultation)
  • Minimum standards for web metrics (in consultation)

Sadly, I am unable to fathom how to contribute to these consultations, but someone will know – I know many of you would have some great insights into this, so I will work alongside you to find out how to be included in the consultation.

I am disappointed, and I so SO did not want to be, that the section on domain name guidance and use of a dotgovdotuk url is still in the dated and a bit wonky section of the Cabinet Office website. I know many of the individuals involved in developing this, and I promise you that this apparent belligerance belies the passion of those involved in developing the new standards in light of website rationalisation and convergence.

In my own opinion only, I believe that it is a simple message: no content is to be published online for citizens or business, unless through the adequately funded Directgov and businesslink.gov.uk. Saving the public purse from a hammering through unnecessary website deployment. (That means, you and I no longer have to fund the near on 1000 websites published by the UK government – each with their own design and marketing budgets (it can add up quite quickly)).

Yet it is a very difficult message to deliver. I could bore on about how hard it is to join policy makers with their communication teams, and to establish enough of a relationship to even discuss online delivery of what is happening – my explanation: it is as hard as trying to explain a rave to your parents (for those born in the 70s/80s). Neither party is too fussed by the detail, but both want the outcome to meet our needs, whilst successfully avoiding our worst fears.

These guidelines are the detail, the ‘yada yada’… but they are key, paramount to success. We need to understand the (un)spoken rules – let’s just clarify them and get on with it. But as ever, the devil is in the detail (I really did not want to use that phrase but hey ho) – and probably there is an element of JFDI and if there is a fallout – manage it. (But what fallout will there be, other than brand arguments and ownership concerns? This is the public sector – there is no argument).

Frustration all around.

My reason for posting about this is to show you where the guidelines will be published and to encourage you to keep a close eye on this. Please do join in consultations where you can, and please don’t use it as a stick to beat the beaten. There will be some super cool stuff coming out of this huge change – and this change will benefit us all.

Who could do with a ‘tell us once’ policy and delivery channel that works? All of us, birth, marriage and death – pretty salient and definitely doable… if we can get this absolutely right from the start.

Let’s get on with it.

PS Anyone who knows any more, please let me know, particularly on the status of the consultations.