Interesting elsewhere – 9 February 2010

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

Local knowledge is everything – BankerVision

We seek to use systems to impose standards of service and uniformity across the offering. “People are unreliable!”, we scream as we write as much discretion away from users as possible, thinking, as we do so, that we are serving both them and the customers.

Well, we’re not. What we’re actually doing is eliminating those things that would really make what we do thrill customers. At the edge, where people meet real customers, such a standard offering doesn’t thrill anyone. It may provide some value to most people. But I suspect that only outliers would actually be thrilled.

Welfare Commission: humanising decision making and appeals in the benefits system at linksUK

Today the Department for Work and Pensions Select Committee publishes its report on decision making and appeals in the benefits system, the headline press coverage reports on huge errors in overpayment and underpayment of benefits and as part of the solution the select Committee is calling for a Welfare Commission to be set up to simplify the benefits system. We welcome this news and believe that any redesign should place a one-to-one service to claimants at its heart; ensuring efficient and humanised service delivery.

What’s so good about sustainable public services anyway? « News from a Nerd

You don’t destroy or change what’s there, you just resolutely go about building an alternative. We’re starting to see the effects of this with the music and newspaper industries – the web has provided a platform for parallel structures and better alternatives have emerged. I think the same could be achieved with public services. Many of them no longer meet people’s needs, so rather than trying to change government from the inside there is a good chance that building new public services outside of its walls may be the answer. Just as with music, those artists that recognised the potential of the web early on continue to thrive. The difference is that public services aren’t subject to markets. Like it or not, perhaps that will start to change as well.

We must look beyond the stigmatising language at linksUK

Take the area in which I live… There are over 5,000 people claiming Jobseekers Allowance. This is up 1,500 on 12 months ago. Real levels of worklessness are likely to be around three times this. It’s concentrated, in the main, in some of the most deprived wards in the country, where almost half the working age population will be out of work… There are already approximately 17 workless people for every available job…. How do we tackle worklessness and poverty and tell people that they have opportunities, without a range of good quality, sustainable jobs? If Marx got nothing else right, he was spot on when he observed that men and women make their own history, but not in conditions of their own choosing.

We see real, workless people in our offices every day. The reality is that the vast, overwhelming majority of people who are out of work categorically do not want to be so.

Kwedit Launches: The First Completely Unreliable Payment Network

It’s a new payment service that absolutely doesn’t guarantee payments. In fact, its unreliability is what makes it so attractive to social game publishers and other people selling virtual goods. It’s also a great way to let the unbanked masses out there pay for stuff without getting sucked in to stuff without getting sucked in to scamville-type scams. The product is called Kwedit Promise.  [via @grimbold]