Interesting elsewhere – 15 September 2010

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

  • A Shiny World: Networks & Nudging (cross posted to Mud in my eyes) Never underestimate the value of knowing others can. Never underestimate the power of following others. But most of all, understand that the key to behaviour change is a weird mix of technology, digital and sociology and psychology these days and more research badly needs to be done to get to the root of what works and is efficient, and what doesn’t and is not.
  • The crisis in customer service : The New Yorker Modern businesses do best at improving their performance when they can use scalable technologies that increase efficiency and drive down cost. But customer service isn’t scalable in the same way; it tends to require lots of time and one-on-one attention. Even when businesses try to improve service, they often fail. They carefully monitor call centers to see how long calls last, how long workers are sitting at their desks, and so on. But none of this has much to do with actually helping customers, so companies end up thinking that their efforts are adding up to a much better job than they really do.
  • Where am I? (Part 1) « The NoBull Way I conclude that the Big Society debate, on a national and theoretical level, just points us unerringly back at the great big questions about the state and the individual, structure and emergence, cathedrals and bazaars, open source and proprietary, analytical and instinctive. David Cameron’s statements about the Big Society constitute a position on some of these things, and amount to a refreshed articulation of them, but unsurprisingly they aren’t a solution to those big dichotomies. Perhaps the most charitable (sic) interpretation is that, applying big society principles to the Big Society project itself, Cameron is conceding on behalf of top-down government that there aren’t any unified answers… and is inviting people to volunteer (sic) a variety of responses to the UK’s current needs, whilst offering to create an ecosystem that will better support and enable those responses.
  • In The Eye Of The Storm: Question 3 – Sharing the Platform The last part of being a platform is transactional. Should direct.gov move into directly providing transactional services into government? We always imagined it should and would. It hasn’t so far (short of providing skins for those who do provide such services). Increasingly I think this is a step too far and that it is better for departments to be required to open up the rules for their transactions and to provide white label forms that can be used by others alongside their own branded ones. The trouble here is that when sending information to government, I think I’d want to be sure that it was definitely going to government and that there was a near-zero risk of someone else seeing it. […] So there needs to be some kind of kitemark or audit process but, at the same time, people have to recognise the need for their own diligence as evidence by the recent iTunes problems where compromised accounts were used to boost the chart ranking of books and applications.
  • Digitising the Job Centre Plus « The Great E-mancipator The report entitled “RR 679 Literature review to inform the future digitisation of Jobcentre Plus service delivery” by Grahame Whitfield, Kim Perren, David Stuart and Michael Norris is an excellent piece of work towards applying e-government to the range of government service users, over and above those it focuses on. The conclusions include examining digital exclusion due to availability, cost and competence to which the researchers conclude “the evidence strongly suggests that public services should embrace the notion that they cannot – indeed should not – try to do everything themselves. Making data available to external organisations could result in the production of a wide range of innovative applications, services and resources that would be unlikely to be developed in-house. These could augment any provision Jobcentre Plus makes itself.”
  • Political Innovation No1: Towards Interactive Government | Local Democracy When I can follow news from my neighbour’s blog on my phone, why can’t I get updates on local services on the mobile-web? When I can e-mail someone across the world and be collaborating on a document in minutes, why is it so hard to have a conversation with the council down the road? And when brands and mainstream media are doing interactivity and engagement – why are government departments struggling with it so much?