Interesting elsewhere – 25 May 2010

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

  • In the loop: How Twitter transformed political reporting – Features, Gadgets & Tech – The Independent The secret of Twitter’s success is that it sounds stupid. No one has to take it seriously, which means anyone can use it for anything they want. And, because the idea is so devastatingly simple, they do. You write short messages to a group of people who choose to read them, and read short messages written by people whom you choose.
    [...]
    But it was ever thus. Theatres were a distraction from the pure religious life. Novels encouraged hysteria. And in most modern music you can’t hear the words. Television was going to kill books. Video killed the radio star. The internet was going to kill books. Texting was going to kill literacy. The Kindle was going to kill books. Books are still here. Amazon turned out to increase book sales. So did the Richard and Judy Book Club. Each wave of technology (apart from the fax machine) has enriched intellectual life. One or two technologies appear not to have survived. But then surprising things happen.
  • Security engineering: broken promises | ZDNet For several decades, we have in essence completely failed to come up with even the most rudimentary, usable frameworks for understanding and assessing the security of modern software; and spare for several brilliant treatises and limited-scale experiments, we do not even have any real-world success stories to share. The focus is almost exclusively on reactive, secondary security measures: vulnerability management, malware and attack detection, sandboxing, and so forth; and perhaps on selectively pointing out flaws in somebody else’s code. The frustrating, jealously guarded secret is that when it comes to actually enabling others to develop secure systems, we deliver far less value than could be expected.
    (h/t: @marxculture)
  • “Is that Google or the Internet?” – Podnosh One [question] really made me stop and think: “Is that on Google or the internet?”.I was stumped for a moment. It felt like a cartoon character has just looked up at me from a drawing and asked me to explain the world of 3 dimensions.

    It’s a perfectly reasonable one mind (all questions are). “You can find it through Google or you can go straight to the web page using the web address,” I tried to explain, adding: “they’re all on the internet” to a rather puzzled frown.

    It happened to be Silver Surfers this week. I’m not keen on the idea myself but marketing minds often feel it is working and perhaps that question explains the need.

    If even the concept of the world wide web is still slippery for some (hence the question) how do we describe this fundamental shift in information and relationships for those who have yet to grasp it?

  • Imagining the Internet Tim Berners-Lee offered his “Five-Star” plan for open data. He said public information should be awarded a star rating based on the following criteria: one star for making the information public; a second is awarded if the information is machine-readable; a third star if the data is offered in a non-proprietary format; a fourth is given if it is in Linked Data format; a fifth if it has actually been linked.
  • The Coalition: what now for digital? So, a week into a new kind of government, what does the outlook for digital look like? [...]
    There seem to be three big ideas about the role and potential of the internet:
    Transparency: the internet as a publishing medium for government spending and Parliamentary expenses…
    Collaborative individualism: the internet as a decentralised network enabling individuals to come together as civil society…
    Efficiency: the internet as a lower-cost approach to delivering government IT programmes effectively including through smaller and more modular approaches.
  • The net is not just for the young One of the most important things that the new government could do with its services is to break away from the idea that each department or ministry has “a website” that is a gateway to the “real” department behind it.This is the sort of thinking that businesses abandoned years ago.

    Amazon simply is its website, and the Guardian is an online news service that also prints a daily paper. If we required government departments like Revenue and Customs to act in this integrated way then it might be able to perform its role far more effectively.

    But we can only do this if almost everyone is able and willing to access these services online, so that the costs of supporting those who are simply unable to do so are manageable.

    We should not compromise on the quality of the public services we deliver, and nobody must be left behind when they are offered online.

  • open government for the UK – new report launched We believe that there is a natural potential alignment between our UK system of government, our long tradition of liberal democracy, and what technology now makes possible. But it will take a strong political will and the implementation of a series of practical steps to get there.This is, after all, not about our government and our public services as they currently exist. But how they would be if we were to design them now. It is in that spirit that this paper aims to add momentum and support to make open government pervasive, routine and sustained by offering a series of recommendations that we believe will help advance and embed the necessary cultural and technical changes required to help make open government an embedded reality in the UK.

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