Well, actually there is no winner at this stage – simultaneously drafting and rating on the mixedink tool did not really work and we don’t think that it would do justice to the richness of the debate that has occurred if we simply took the version that ended up on top. (In fact, it was a version entitled Principles/Data/Autopoll/FLOSS with material by PaulJohnston, Mitcoes, Giovani and CesarCalderon.) Instead we are going to analyse the mixedink material and comments on this blog and then use this blog and a conventional wiki to come up with the final version. As ever, we will try to do everything as openly as possible, so there is plenty of scope for others to intervene and put us on the right path.
My initial conclusions are as follows:
- We will need to make a decision about length. None of mixedink versions are huge, but some do seem to me definitely too long (and with too much rhetoric and repetition). My view would be one page is an absolute maximum and that the declaration should focus on a small number of ideas that anyone new to the debate can easily and quickly grasp. We do aim to do a supplementary document, so there should be plenty of space to explain and justify what we mean, recommend how to implement etc etc.
- Style and rhetoric – There has been a bit of debate about whether the style of the declaration should be funky and different (because we are arguing for change) or more traditional (because we are targeting established decision-makers). I am not sure where I stand on this – maybe when we have more or less got the content sorted, we can try a couple of different styles and see which people prefer? Similarly, in terms of rhetoric I think the first paragraph of the declaration should justify it and put it in context: people have put forward a number of interesting ways of doing this – we just need to blend and/or choose.
- There does seem to be a strong consensus behind having transparency or openness as one of the principles (but balanced with other principles). This principle should probably cover: transparency about decision-making processes and operations and sharing in open, easy to use formats information on laws and proposals; financial information (spending in particular but perhaps also tax?); and publically held data sets.
- There also seems to be strong support for a principle to do with participation (or citizen involvement/feedback/input). This should cover both involvement in policy-making and feedback on/involving in shaping public services.
- Another strong theme is re-use. By reuse I mean the ability of people outside government to take government data and (electronic?) services and use them to create public value in new ways. This seems to link to both transparency and participation, so I am not sure whether it should be subsumed under one of the other principles (if so, which?) or is worth being an independent principle. What do others think?
- Then there are a couple of huge and important debates where we need to decide whether we should touch them and if so, how we can do this without getting completely bogged down in them. One is the free/open-source debate. The other is the debate about personal data. Again, I am not fully sure on the best way forward in this area – maybe things will become clearer as we wiki around different possible final versions.
- There were also some other principles suggested that I broadly agree with but feel to me personally as too vague/non-action-oriented. Here I am thinking of respect, responsibility and even innovation – of these, I think the last one has the strongest case for inclusion in the declaration, but I can’t see that much is served by simply telling ministers that they must do more to encourage innovation in the public sector. Obviously very happy for innovation-fans (and respect fans and responsibility fans etc) to put forward suggestions as we wiki, but that’s my current personal view.
- The only other area that struck me as worth highlighting is something to do with value creation outside the public sector. I think various versions pointed in this direction, although as you can see I could find a good way of describing it. What I mean is the idea that in a connected world there is lots of scope for creation of public value outside the public sector and so we should perhaps include a principle encouraging governments to do more to recognise, encourage and support this. Some of the other principles do link up to this idea, but if we think the idea is very important, we may still want to highlight it in some way.
Anyway, the above is my personal view on the mixedink outputs, but I hope my mind is fairly open and even where it isn’t, if the collaborative process generates a different outcome, so be it. Please do give your comments and reactions whatever they might be!
The next stage is for David and me to put a version of the declaration on a wiki and see if we can quickly create a final version collaboratively. Hopefully the wiki will go live in the next day or two. Many thanks for all contributions so far – please do stay engaged and involved!!
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