Wednesday 9 June 2010

What is the point of open data without open communication to follow it up?

By Tim

It has been very encouraging to see the new government continue the great leap forward that is open data. However, we hope that communications specialists are very closely involved in the debate about what comes after the opening up of data.

For example, I imagine the public will have many questions to raise following the discoveries and analysis that will occur once government data on expenditure becomes common currency. And as enthusiasts start to publicly present data which screams out for a response (the identification accident black spots or botched procurement, for example), surely the logical next step will be to contact someone in government to ask for action or explanation? Wouldn’t it be contradictory to have direct access to open data without direct open dialogue with ministers, council cabinets and even officials about that data?

It makes sense that this communication also occurs openly and transparently and as close to the content as possible-ideally on the same pages. For example, a Yoosk style widget enabling the open posting and ranking of questions to named ministers and officials- with their answers posted alongside-is publicly available. This could be readily deployed alongside content on open data inspired websites. Questions arising from open data content could then be put to a named individual for all to see and support,  rather than emailed to an anonymous official in private correspondence.

Even though the tools are readily available to set up and manage direct open conversations systematically, I don’t yet see any movement in government driving this forward in parallel with open data. It needs senior communications staff to buy into the open data ethos and to deal with all the implications for government communications strategy that comes with it. There's no point in having the technology for dialogue if the communications teams don't make ministers available systematically and regularly to answer the public's questions on open data and other matters. 

Friday 4 June 2010

Labour's legacy and the role of the internet in the election? Your questions please..

by Keith

Things have been a bit quiet on the Yoosk front recently as we have been focussed on getting a new site design and some new features built (more news of this next week).

But we are back this week with two interesting topics to post questions around and two knowledgable panels to answer them. First up is 'Labour Legacy: 13 Years of New Labour' and answering your questions will be  Independent on Sunday political correspondent and Tony Blair biographer John Rentoul, Labour MP Stephen Twigg, and  Tory MP John Redwood. 

Our other topic is  'Election2: How did the internet shape the general election' and some more big names answering on this one - Labour List's Alex Smith, Tory blogger Iain Dale, James Evans, Founder of  and  Lib Dem Voice Editor Mark Pack

You have until the weekend of the 12th June to get your questions in.  But even if you don't have a question, drop by the site to browse what other people are asking and to add your support for the best questions. As usual it will be  the top-rated questions which are answered and we'll be getting the answers on the site the following week.