Interesting elsewhere – 23 April 2010

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

  • Will Plug-In Vehicles Be Obsolete Before They Are Profitable? — Seeking Alpha Given the change I’ve lived through, I have a hard time putting much faith in anyone who believes 10 to 25 year forecasts are possible, much less reliable. There is simply no way to predict what the disruptive changes will be or when they will occur. After all, if changes were predictable, they wouldn’t be disruptive.
  • Efficiency savings, shared services, pay freezes… we’ll need to be more imaginative than that! « IFF Blog In all these spheres part of the shift towards longer term viability is from a service logic of ‘trust the government’ to ‘trust the professional’ and ultimately ‘trust the user’.  Yet this is in direct opposition to the trend in a recession – towards tighter performance management and central control.  The innovative head teachers I talk to, for example, are worried that the little room they have at present for financial autonomy and professional discretion will be clawed back in the name of austerity.
  • Public Services 2.0: the now wave to the next wave We are unquestionably at a key moment for government and public services more specifically, one that will lead to a rebalancing of power and increased engagement and involvement in how we create, lead and manage public services. While the how is yet to be resolved and remains the main discussion point between the two ends of the political spectrum, there is no longer an if.The main question at the heart of this debate for me is how we balance top down delivery, striving (sometimes) for more egalitarian outcomes, with the creative (often disruptive) innovation of bottom up invention and ingenuity.
  • Optimism – Tim Howgego An investor in a commercial business accepts that some of the money they invest will be spent on unprofitable activities. They judge the success of their investment on the overall return of the entire business. In contrast, public investors in a government enterprise – or taxpayers, as they are called – expect every penny (cent) to be “well spent”. Anything the population deems to be “waste” can approximate to a moral right to “demand their money back”, with almost no consideration of overall performance.Culturally this makes it hard for the public sector to acknowledge misjudgements, consequently harder to learn from them, and hence, exceptionally hard to learn from them while they are happening – at the time when something still might be done to improve the situation.
  • iPad: The Disneyland of Computers | Freedom to Tinker The richness of our cultural opportunities, and the creative dynamism of our economy, are only possible because of a lack of central planning. Even the best central planning process couldn’t hope to keep up with the flow of new ideas.The same is true of Apple’s app store bureaucracy: there’s no way it can keep up with the flow of new ideas — no way it can offer the scope and variety of apps that a less controlled environment can provide. And like the restaurants of Disneyland, the apps in Apple’s store will be blander because customers will blame the central planner for anything offensive they might say.
  • The silent spring of the internet: cyberspace needs its stewards – confused of calcutta The internet is a sea around us, and we’re polluting it. We’re polluting it for short-term gain, we’re polluting it without really understanding the ecosystem that has evolved around it, the creatures that live in it.
    The internet is an ocean around us, still somewhat unknown, still being mapped. It is capable of nourishing and sustaining us, capable of supporting and encouraging trade and commerce, capable of giving us incredible enjoyment, helping keep us clean and healthy.
    The internet is all the rivers around us, capable of being dammed and isolated, capable of being corrupted and polluted at industrial levels, capable of being poisoned, capable of drying up, capable of killing us.
  • Why You Should NEVER Listen to Your Customers « blog maverick Your customers can tell you the things that are broken and how they want to be made happen. Listen to them. Make them happy. But they won’t create the future roadmap for your product or service. That’s your job.The best way to predict the future is to invent it.  Words that should always be part of your product or service planning.
  • Memex 1.1 » Blog Archive » Copyright 2010: getting back to first principles Our situation is now one best described by the theory of incompetent systems – that is to say systems that can’t fix themselves because the components which need to change are driven by short-term considerations and are unable to think longer-term.
  • Sir Humphrey’s “stupendous” ICT incompetence | PublicTechnology.net Government IT procurement and project management are particularly incompetent according to Commons Public Accounts Committee chairman Edward Leigh MP in a letter to his successor
  • E-government is not a financial cure-all | Michael Cross | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk It’s one thing to create e-government by chucking money at computers; using those computers to cut costs is another matter entirely (ask Willie Walsh).
  • The Technium: The Shirky Principle In a strong sense we are defined by the problems we are solving. Yin/Yang, problem/solution, both sides form one unit. Because of the Shirky Principle, which says that every entity tends to prolong the problem it is solving, progress sometimes demands that we let go of problems. We can then look to marginal solutions and ask ourselves, what marginal problem is this solving that might be a more appreciated problem later on?
  • Should You Fire Innovation Managers? Peter Kuyt argues that a culture that stimulates playing it safe and keeping the status quo is what prevents companies from opening up their innovation process. It is also the same culture that makes people stay too long on their job. It just becomes too hard for them to leave their own comfort zone and so they contribute to a culture of playing it safe.Peter says that the funny thing is that if people manage to untie themselves from this environment and switch jobs anyway, they are doing their employer a favour as well, by forcing them to bring in fresh new people. These new employees usually influence the status quo much easier than the ‘veterans’.
  • Are Civil Servants Too Old and Selfish for Government 2.0? Maybe we should give up on this quest for a “government 2.0” or “open government.” Maybe the people in senior positions are, well, just that – too “senior.” Or maybe it’s that most public servants just aren’t that interested in being collaborative, transparent or participatory.