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


Come and Meet The Communities

September 16, 2010

Back in July, I mentioned an event I was planning to organise to help bring big online communities together with government and the marketing agencies who work for it, to help stimulate creative thinking about new ways to work together. Thanks to the great team at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, we now…

When should you say sorry?

September 11, 2010

So Dave Hartnett, head of HM Revenue & Customs, feels there’s no need to say sorry about reconciliations to PAYE tax payments which mean 5.7m taxpayers will be told they have under- or overpaid tax. To be honest, he may have a point. PAYE is a system which depends on accurate and up-to-date information being…

Reloading commentable documents: introducing Read+Comment

September 2, 2010

At TeaCamp today, I’m taking the Campers through one of my new projects, Read+Comment, designed to offer hassle-free publishing of commentable documents online. Introducing Read+Comment from Steph Gray It’s based on some work I’ve done recently for BIS, updating the Commentariat WordPress theme so that the team can roll out more flexible sites around their…

Don’t be down with the kids

August 23, 2010

I started my career in market research, where soliciting the views of under 16s is frowned upon without rather a lot of faffing around getting hold of parental consent. Online, surveys tend to ask if you’re older than 16, and if not, chuck you out. On balance, it’s probably a good thing that dubious marketers…

Open data on the cheap

August 4, 2010

Jimmy Leach, Head of Digital Diplomacy at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office blogged earlier about a quiet little project his team have rolled out, using extended RSS 2.0 feeds to provide access to the FCO’s travel advice data. As he says, the key thing for publicly-funded organisations is to get the information out there, which…

The innovation problem

August 2, 2010

Innovation vs Process. Social Media Ninjas vs IT Managers. Agile vs Waterfall. A few tidbits from the fringe of recent O’Reilly’s OSCON conference caught my eye in the last week or so, and helped me think about these age-old battles in a new way. Simon Wardley‘s session takes a bit of following if enterprise IT…

What does more for less look like?

July 23, 2010

The public sector has been paying lip service to the idea of achieving ‘more for less’ for several months now, whilst in many cases conceding that the end result is inevitably less for less. This week, Neil Williams and his team at BIS showed that there’s a way to deliver something better whilst spending less…

How to work with online communities

July 16, 2010

Of all the projects I worked on at DIUS/BIS, the one I am still most proud of is still going strong, if quietly, today: the Mature Students partnership with The Student Room and Directgov. When I wrote about it in February 2009, I explained: There have been some good examples of ministers engaging with online…

Good and bad transparency

June 2, 2010

I’m trying to work out why I’m uneasy about the recent announcement of the transparency revolution sweeping Whitehall. It’s not as if I’m a civil servant any more with a vested interest to conceal. As a developer, and an SME hoping to win public sector work, and a taxpayer, you’d think I’d be cock-a-hoop that…