[LINK] ABC News: Government communications: online but out of touch

Tom Koltai tomk at unwired.com.au
Sun Oct 9 10:04:55 AEDT 2011

> -----Original Message-----
> From: link-bounces at mailman.anu.edu.au 
> [mailto:link-bounces at mailman.anu.edu.au] On Behalf Of Antony Barry
> Sent: Sunday, 9 October 2011 6:24 AM
> To: Link list
> Subject: [LINK] ABC News: Government communications: online 
> but out of touch
> Government communications: online but out of touch
> Fri 07 Oct 11, 17:06pm AEST
> Annie O'Rourke
> In Australia the democratic promise of Jobs's legacy remains 
> unfulfilled. While millions of people are mourning the loss 
> of Steve Jobs, no doubt having heard about it via their 
> smartphone through Twitter, Facebook or news feed, most 
> people in Government Communications are still acting as if 
> the e-revolution never happened over 10 years ago. Sadly, 
> e-communications is one of the areas letting down the 
> Government the most. How do I know? Because during the first 
> term of the Rudd government, having seen the extraordinary 
> potential of e-communications in the United States, I was 
> given the job of creating the prime minister's 
> e-communications unit. It was about bringing the highest 
> office in our democracy into the 21st century. The problem 
> was that Canberra in general became a centre of...
> to read the full story on your mobile please use this link 
> http://m.abc.net.au/browse?page=11144&articleid=3343256&cat=The Drum
> to read the full story on a PC or Mac please use this link 
> http://tinyurl.com/3eklxfe

Fascinating well constructed article on the status of "E-Government".

Ms. O'Rourke gives us a rare inside glimpse of fighting the Canberra
quill pen mentality. 

The nay saying comments should be lumped in the "luddite" - "I think
there is a world market for about five computers" bin.

The essential difficulty with Canberra is one of survival.

"I'm x years from retirement. I don't want to learn all this new geeky
mumbo jumbo technology. If I can make the technology look irrelevant,
then I can get to my retirement without having to be retrained/retasked
or made to look silly."

The attitude is a little like the prolific Graffiti applicators living
close to high traffic public transport corridors.

"I don't care how much of Australia's GDP is wasted by people having to
clean up my mess... It's how I like to spend my time and I'm going to
keep on doing it."

The problem with civil servant technology averseness can be summarised
with one memorable quote; 

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered
as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to
us." - A memo at Western Union, 1878

Of course, Ms. O'Rourke's comments are based on personal experience. She
may  not be aware of the Publicly accessible G.I.S. system that was
setup in Darwin in 1992 by the NT Department of Mines and Energy for EA
leases; nor does she mention the increasingly valuable data being
published by some Federal agencies, ABS, BITRE or the Dept of
Infrastructure (to name a couple).

Change takes time. Quite often, a quarter century generational time
Which it would appear, is about the working life span of a Senior public

Ms. O'Rourke has managed to publicise a deep and dark Canberra secret. 
For the most part, open government is beneficial and quill pens should
be retired.

Should other Journalists elect to bravely take up the theme, I daresay
that our pollies and their minders will all be blogging, tweeting and
being "Liked" by next year.



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