Interesting elsewhere – 22 March 2010

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

The World of GovCraft « Carl’s Notepad

I started to think about how Government in general could be seen as a game so that we could not only engage people in the problems and challenges we all face but actually inspire them to be part of the solution and help make changes happen. In the lunchtime session that Joanne facilitated she spoke very passionately about the role of games and how we all play games all the time but just don’t realise it.

I kind of hit a blank wall as the big picture of Government is pretty boring, but the individual components that make it are actually interesting. So how do you start to get to a level of engagement and participation that inspires the average person on the street to want to get involved.

Costing the impacts of digital exclusion : Tim’s Blog

How much exactly does digital exclusion cost? Both the cost to individual without access to digital technologies. And the cost to government. A PWC report last year put the cost at £22bn, but it’s not entirely clear how that figure was reached, or, more importantly, how such a study would be replicated to track changes in the costs of digital exclusion.

A team at the OII and LSE were commissioned last year by the National Audit Office to sketch out what a long-term method for reliably measuring the impacts of digital exclusion might be – and they’ve just launched an online consultation on the methodology.

Language Log » Betting on the poor boy: Whorf strikes back

The simple rule is that the average value of a population is a poor predictor of the value that any individual holds. Put another way, the average is a property of a population not of an individual. Confusion about this often underlies racist comments.

Web Chat Helps Virginia Reduce Phone Calls About Tax Questions

The Virginia Department of Taxation recently slashed Web-related calls from citizens by 70 percent, thanks to an online chat device with an instant messenger function that costs roughly $1,000…  By communicating with customers via chat, service representatives can interact simultaneously with four citizens. As customers type their responses to service representatives, those representatives use that time to answer the questions from other customers using the chat function.

[h/t @dotgovcom]

Let’s change the entire benefits system at linksUK

There isn’t one policy I’d change about the benefit system. I’d change the whole thing. The UK’s benefit system is simply not working: for claimants, administrators and the tax payer. The system has mutated into a beast which is complex, confused, contradictory (in impact and intent), frequently changing, sometimes well, but at other times, poorly delivered, bureaucratic, non-strategic, not joined-up, and sometimes welcomed but mainly mistrusted. We cannot continue with more piecemeal, ‘tinkering at the edges’ type reforms but need a fundamental re-think.

In Development » Should Public Servants Use Twitter at Work?

Recently whilst dining with some of my fellow “senior women in IT” colleagues the subject of Twitter came up. In the ensuing discussion I discovered, to my astonishment, that I was the only one who used Twitter. Not only that, but the assumption of the others was that I, as a public servant, surely wouldn’t use it as a tool for work purposes, the general perception being that it was for finding out what your favourite movie star did during their nose hair trimming or leg waxing sessions.

The reality is that I do use Twitter for work and here’s why

Public Services 2.0 :: Charles Leadbeater

Most of these emerging business models enlist users as participants and producers at least some of the time: they move from consuming content, watching and listening, to sharing, rating, ranking, amending, adding. A public sector which just treats people as consumers – even well treated ones – will miss this dimension of participation which is at the heart of the most successful organisational models emerging from the interactive, two-way Internet, known as Web 2.0. What would public services 2.0 look like?

In Control provides a glimpse of what public services 2.0 would look like: by turning people into participants in the design of services, they become innovators and investors, adding to the system’s productive resources rather than draining them as passive consumers, waiting at the end of the line.

70% of people who live in social housing don’t have internet access – or do they?

Southern Housing Groups 2008 survey found 30% using the net, which matched the national figure then. Now they find 67% using the net.

It does not mean that there is not important work to be done by social landlords to help close the digital divide (for those who want it closed). Many of their tenants might benefit from much wider use of digital tools – but have never really been exposed to them, or may have barriers to using them.

But it does show how quickly internet access is being taken up by those who see some sense in using it.

Mindspace

MINDSPACE: Influencing behaviour through public policy was a joint commission by the Cabinet Office and the Institute for Government. It shows how the latest insights from the science of behaviour change can be used to generate new and cost-effective solutions to some of the current major policy challenges, such as reducing crime, tackling obesity and climate change.