Personal blogging by Steph Gray, founder of Helpful Digital and erstwhile bureaucrat

Featured posts

Which constituency is that in?

February 6, 2009

I’m learning that old skool stakeholder engagement involves a lot of spreadsheets. We needed to work out which UK Parliamentary constituencies some organisations were in, to identify who needed to be contacted about an issue.¬† 400 organisations, in fact. Could have been a boring day’s work for someone, but became instead quite an enjoyable lunchtime…

Going where the people are

February 5, 2009

It’s been an exciting week, from Digital Britain (now commentable) to Directgov’s prototype, UKGovWeb Barcamp to the PoI Taskforce Report. But right now, I’m personally the most excited about the new Mature Students campaign DIUS is kicking off in partnership with The Student Room and Directgov: Recommendation 1 of the PoI Taskforce Report challenges…

Freeing data, reducing pain

February 2, 2009

At Barcamp on Saturday, Harry Metcalfe of TellThemWhatYouThink and I presented some work we’ve been doing to build a web application which makes it easier to turn PDF versions of consultation documents into structured XML. Before you click on to something more interesting, give me a chance to explain in plain English why this matters.…

Building on the Barcamp buzz

February 2, 2009

Image credit: Neil Williams Like Simon and Andrew (watching from afar), Saturday’s Barcamp left me feeling optimistic about the state of digital engagement in and around government. The Power of Information Taskforce followed this up with the launch of their draft report which sets out an exciting, ambitious and refreshingly specific agenda for what we…

Introducing Commentariat & the POI Taskforce Report

February 1, 2009

I’ve written before about the perennial problem of publishing documents online for comment. The solutions either seem to be clunky, laborious to setup or use, or problematically inaccessible to users without Javascript. The problem remains, but there’s an extra option now, in the shape of Commentariat, a customised WordPress theme we’ve developed at DIUS and…

Update: who blocks?

January 29, 2009

Note (July 2017) I’ve fixed a couple of links affected by link-rot. The survey tool doesn’t survive modern anti-iframe defences and https mixed-content warnings, but the results are still historically amusing. Thanks all for a great response to the Social Media Test Suite survey – in just over a week, 55 people helped out sharing…

Unblocking the Blockers

January 20, 2009

OK, it’s time to be a bit subversive. We have the Civil Service guidance on participation online, and yet in organisations across the UK, public servants and others are being prevented from engaging online at work thanks to restrictions placed on their internet access by their IT providers. Some of these are well-intentioned: designed to…

New Opportunities

January 13, 2009

The challenge for ‘government 2.0 sites’ (a phrase I feel slightly dirty for using) which aim to engage beyond the core stakeholder audience, is to come up with an experience which fits with the content of the policy, builds credibility with visitors and provides value to the policymaking process. You can have all the comments,…

2009: The year of Less

January 2, 2009

I’m not going to store up humiliation for myself by posting predictions or New Year’s resolutions for ’09, but from where I’m sitting, I’d say the big theme will be Less. And I’m not being entirely pessimistic. It goes more or less without saying that we’ll all be working smarter and leaner, assuming fewer staff,…