Put a big bow on it and say goodbye

Last year during the course of my postings I made a few decisions/explored some random avenues and then disappeared off down other paths, seemingly willy nilly. This year I was determined to tie them all up and then move on.

Here are the three that haunt me:

Right back at the beginning I promised that I was not ‘blogging’ that has been proved untrue, as Dave Briggs pointed out, it was indeed a slippery slope. SO sorry!

I also said that I was going to build a social media toolkit I have since realised that there can be no such thing – it belies the medium and actually the best I could do was a decision tree to decide how online content should best be delivered according to who was needing to read the stuff. Not very clever, but realistic.

Finally, I made a big brouhaha about the online consultation deal because something small turned into something big. It has now turned into something monumental. This is exciting but it also beyond me and my blogging here until the people who are now doing this get to a point where we can help further.

I know that this last one is the most rubbish of me, I yelled for help, got it, then went silent. However, the name of the game is getting stuff done and if the work that I do goes any way towards getting that stuff done, then I have to be happy with that. And for all of you who contribute to discussions here, well… your time is not wasted either as all of it goes into the pot and is used to influence how we move forward.

It is better to be honest about this, so if any of the above piss you off then please accept my apologies. If my role is posting here about stuff that is happening, that then creates energy and conversation, it is not wasted. My role is enabling change and assisting the reality of that change; officials and Ministers do everything else. (That sounds lame, but I don’t mean it in a lame way – feel free to beat me up).

Well, that is the true beginning to my year. I look forward to another one that is going to kick arse in the government online space, not only in the UK but everywhere else too – it is an exciting time.

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.