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Still climbing

Innovation nation

A year ago today – inspired by the Open Rights Groupwe launched Innovation Nation: Interactive, a commentable version of the Innovation Nation white paper using WordPress, Commentpress and our shiny new sandbox server. (Goodness knows how, given that Arthur was barely 3 weeks old at the time, but somehow it got launched.)

At the time, I wrote:

Policymaking should be an ongoing conversation between government and stakeholders, not a process where government stops listening when the consultation closes.

We’re not there yet, of course, but in the last 12 months, the digital engagement community (not just DIUS/BIS or government) has come a long way:

  1. Power of Information Taskforce & Commentariat: William Perrin’s team supporting Richard Allan took commenting a step forward sharing the draft and final reports in commentable form using the DIUS ‘Commentariat’ theme we open sourced for the purpose. What’s more, the report’s own recommendations and the Government response to it steered Government strongly towards this kind of engagement. And lots of people took up the baton.
  2. Write To Reply: Joss and Tony showed that you don’t need to be in government to make government documents commentable online, illustrating the shift in power which social media tools make possible.
  3. New Director of Digital Engagement: Andrew Stott appointed to lead digital engagement across government,  getting Sir Tim Berners-Lee to extract raw data from departments. Not a bad way to start.
  4. London Summit: a massive, and massively-sophisticated digital engagement project shows what a digital team at the top of their game can achieve
  5. @lorddrayson: The (Cabinet) Minister for Science & Innovation taking to Twitter in a big way as a way of engaging with supporters and critics, as well as using Audioboo & Twitpic – and expects his civil servants to keep up with him
  6. ConsultationXML: Harry Metcalfe’s development of a practical tool to convert PDFs into semantically-rich data. Phase 2 is underway, looking at what XML can be turned into for practical benefit (think: WordPress plugins)
  7. RDFa for consultations and jobs: COI commissioning work to make consultation and jobs pages on government sites semantically meaningful and reusable via RDFa.
  8. Civil Service Jobs online: a seriously useful government dataset getting its own API (and iPhone app)
  9. Civil Service Live 09: the annual event getting the full social reporting treatment courtesy of some smart thinking by COI and the talented team at Amplified
  10. Barcamp 09, Teacamps & Heads of Digital Engagement: a thriving community of digital engagement folk working across and around government coming together to share, learn and support each other through Twitter, blogs and events

There are so many more examples I could cite. There’s a long way to go, but we’re climbing the mountain.

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