In terms of collaboration across agencies, 2 initiatives first proposed 10 years ago might now find a more receptive environment.
1) ArtsCast was proposed as a cross-agency video-on-demand service, delivered across all digital channels, but couldn’t attract seed funding from governnment, despite the enthusiasm of a number of cultural agencies for it. The ABC has now built the technology (iView). Rather than just having to rely on YouTube or individual agency sites to obtain video content, citizens should be able to surf a video portal using consistent (high) standards of encoding and delivery. It would give the government a range of video content to deliver down the fat pipes of the near future.
2) ArtsShop was proposed s a cross-agency online shopping mall, but couldn’t attract seed funding from government, despite the enthusiasm of a number of cultural agencies for it. Its implemenation could conceivably generate higher revenue for agencies through the sale of for-profit physical content, offsetting some costs involved in providing not-for-profit digital content.
It is all very well to talk about the importance of Web 2.0 as a means of improving communication between governments and citizenry, but there are still basic Web 1.0 communication activities that government gets wrong. For instance, my best guess as to the number of replies I get to emails sent to government agencies is about 1 in 5. Even when one receives an email in reply it will often state, ’someone will contact you soon to discuss this matter’ and they never do. There must be more accountability in this area. My perception is that too often there is one testy, disgruntled, lazy or disaffected individual in charge of receiving general email feedback, with their finger poised over the ‘Delete’ button. Service charters for replying to emails must be both equivalent to those for the receipt of paper-based feedback and actually complied with.
‘Strategy 6: Ensure the Integrity of Australian Online Cultural Content’ of the National Office for the Information Economy’s 1999 document ‘Responses to a strategic framework for the information economy’ states in part ‘Statutory authorities could be required to include standardised online statistics within annual and other reports … The analysis of statistics so gathered would enable more rigorous and adaptable planning to take place at all levels.’
‘Strategy 6: Ensure the Integrity of Australian Online Cultural Content’ of the National Office for the Information Economy’s 1999 document ‘Responses to a strategic framework for the information economy’ states in part ‘Australian online cultural content creators and providers should be encouraged to employ comparable statistics packages for recording user activity within websites. Such packages could be developed in consultation the Australian Bureau of Statistics… Statutory authorities could be required to include standardised online statistics within annual and other reports.’ If such a recommendation were to be expanded to cover all government agencies it is possible that peer group pressure amongst CEOs, Secretaries and Directors would result in the thoughtful analysis, not just reporting, of such statistics.
‘Strategy 6: Ensure the Integrity of Australian Online Cultural Content’ of the National Office for the Information Economy’s 1998 document ‘Responses to a strategic framework for the information economy’ states in part ‘Australian online cultural content creators and providers should be encouraged to employ comparable statistics packages for recording user activity within websites. Such packages could be developed in consultation the Australian Bureau of Statistics… Statutory authorities could be required to include standardised online statistics within annual and other reports’. If this approach were to be extended across all government agencies you might see some peer group pressure amongst CEOs, Secretaries and Directors being brought to bear on the thoughtful analysis, not just reporting, of such statistics.
Hmmm, it seems to me that these days, if a group of people feel passionately about a subject, they’ll pretty much set up a way of communicating about it between themselves, while encouraging others to join in. A lot of government attempts to seed this sort of discussion are pretty naff, as they are often perfunctory, or not thought through. Maybe best if government were to spend most of its efforts monitoring independently-created forums to guage the level of community interest in a topic and/or learn something new, rather than feeling it had to invent and run them.
Otherwise, yes, the seed funding of an arms-length arrangement with an engaged and interested person or group can be highly beneficial, without the need to directly spend money on moderation, but on this topic, can we see some statistics on the amount of moderation necessary on the average forum? My guess is it’s actually pretty low most of the time, but that’s only a guess…
Otherwise, the self-censorship of a community seems to work pretty well in the case of Wikipedia, so maybe that is the model to follow…
Not sure if I understand the question, but basically there is no need to worry about parallel publishing information across multiple free and not-free platforms, as long as the not-free platforms don’t contain any information not available on the free ones…
This is plainly outrageous and indefensible, but not an isolated case by any means. In the area of arts and culture, for example, look how few institutions have made arrangements to contribute their collection datasets to the Collections Australia Network federated search. Government agencies should not be allowed to pick and choose in this way. Appropriations should be tied to demonstrable reporting of information transparency and transfer.
And another thing… encourage the public to assist in the correction of incorrect information, by whatever technical means possible, as long as it’s easy and fun.
Under Annex A of ‘Strategic priority 2: Ensure the enablers are in place’ of GovernmentOnline: The Commonwealth Government’s Online Strategy’ you’ll find the line ‘All new non-commercial publications released by a Minister or agency must be made available online concurrently with other forms of dissemination…’ One way to get more information out there would be to remove the words ‘non-commercial’ from this stipulation, and to create a definition of publication that addresses multiple media.
Yes. Everyone talks about risk management and nobody much talks about opportunity management.
Get over it. All printed information is inaccurate the moment it’s created. The advantage of the online medium is that information can be made progressively more accurate, in theory. A major issue is that the same editorial standards that are brought to bear on print publications are not necessarily put in place for the management of online information. This is a matter of culture change – not an overnight proposition… Oh, and, make sure you carry a good disclaimer…
In the realm of arts and culture, for instance, it is impossible for the public to view a digital representation of the vast majority of the collection assets of government institutions, due to 1) the costs involved in creating and managing these assets and 2) lack of competency within institutions. The creation of a centralised digitisation fund that agencies could bid for would encourage agencies to get their act together, and would assist in addressing the fact that there is always another worthy way to spend appropriations.
Opportunities like this one to comment on policy in the making and review the comments of others are a great step forward. More of this please. What I’d really like to see, also, is thoughtful and thorough explanations from government to the citizenry of why particular suggestions are not taken up, to close the feedback loop, as it were.
I would have to say that the major obstacle to date that has prevented the fostering a culture of online engagement within government is the inability of senior managers to engage with the online medium, to understand its importance, and to recognise how it can be utilised to create efficiencies. The amount of government money that has been spent on the online medium over the last 10 years has been phenomenal, but it hasn’t always been spent wisely… On the other side of the coin, so to speak, a lot of money has been spent on non-online activities that would have had far more positive public outcomes if directed toward the online medium.
The National Gallery of Australia adopted a Parallel Publishing Policy in 2005, making available free online all public information produced by the NGA (regardless of whether or not the NGA is selling a different version of the same information), recognising that, among other things:
1. this would echo the policy of allowing free physical access to all national cultural institutions
2. this would maximise the public utility of this information, by making it accessible to as many people as possible
3. staff and consultants who create information are funded by the taxpayer to do so
4. to restrict access to this information by charging an additional fee to gain access to it is artificially restrictive and ultimately inefficient
5. information produced by the NGA should be regarded as a ‘value-neutral’ commodity
6. the way the NGA packages information and the channels through which it is supplied ‘value-add’ to it, determining whether consumers are willing to pay for access to it (a la tap water vs bottle water)
7. the additional resources needed to repurpose information for the online medium are minimal, provided a coherent thoroughly thought through communications strategy is developed and complied with
8. information does not exist if it is not on the internet – ask any student.
This policy is a bit of an exemplar answering part of the question at para 28. In short, all information should be available in one form or another (e.g. images available free online at 72 dpi as well as available for an appropriate cost printed at 300 dpi). As to what might be made of it, as long as they’re acting within the law I’d just leave that to the people to decide…
Two major barriers to the reusabilty of government information are 1) the current copyright regime and 2) the propensity of government agencie to charge each other exorbitant fees for non-commercial access to digitised assets.
1. Recommendation 7 of the Attorney-General’s Digital Agenda Review: Report & Recommendations 2004 [tiny.cc/DigitalAgendaReview] stated, with regard to Cultural Institutions, that ‘provided that the provision can be drafted in a technologically neutral way, and that no owners demonstrate, within the course of public consultation on the amendments, that their interests are likely to be adversely affected, sections 49 and 50 [of the Copyright Act] should be amended so as to allow low resolution reproductions of the whole of an artistic work to be copied and communicated, without infringing copyright’. This suggested amendment did not find its way into the Copyright Amendment Act 2006, but should perhaps be revisited, as more evidence mounts that the free availability of images online results in greater revenue being generated through image sales – evidenced by the Powerhouse Museum’s recent Flickr-related successes – a phenomenon that should benefit artists as much as institutions.
2. Every Government agency should stop charging every other Government agency for access to materials (save the basic costs of accessing the stuff in the first place, which in a digitised environment should be minimal) in order to massively increase the usefulness, useability and mashupability of assets nominally in the ownership of the people.
To quote Brant Trim, Manager of DEEWR’s Communication Delivery Branch, in a recent email to me, ‘You need to come see our xxxx. You can have it all’. Shorthand for ‘I’m willing and extremely happy to share with you any code for any services we’ve developed. This sort of offer shouldn’t be down to the generosity and community spirit of an individual, but should be a mandatory requirement of all Government agencies. The manner of the sharing, whether by a wiki or any other means, is kindof beside the point. It’s the fact that people have to do it somehow that really matters. This approach should extend across federal, state and local government juristictions, so that smaller-scale agencies can benefit from the R&D done by larger ones.
Under the Government Online Strategy, released April 2000, every Government agency was obliged to develop an online action plan and report on progress against their plan, however this reporting regime only continued until the end of 2001. An updated requirement for a Gov 2.0 action plan and associated reporting regime would put the pressure back on agencies to deliver against not only Gov 2.0 requirements, but the now almost 10-year-old obligations to deliver appropriate and accessible information and services, as well as to archive websites in compliance with NAA guidelines.