Monday, 26 July 2010

Openness at the core of eGovernance

A couple of weeks ago a Yale scholar, Dr Laura DeNardis, visited Europe and presented on e-Governance policies for interoperability and open standards. Dr DeNardis was, for instance, keynote speaker at a breakfast briefing hosted by OpenForum Europe. Unfortunately, I could not attend this event due to some schedule conflict, but only got the report – which made me regret even more that I couldn't attend.

But here's good news: Laura DeNardis' paper on the topic is available for download – I just came across this download link on the Social Sciences Research Network today.

I find this paper a very valuable piece of research. In a comparative approach Dr DeNardis has examined eGovernment policies around globe. She puts some spotlight on the government interoperability frameworks established in South Africa, Europe (the European Interoperability Framework – EIF), Brazil and Japan and, in the final section, derives some clear recommendations out of her research.

Dr DeNardis' analysis shows the changed role of governments with respect to ICT standards:

“Governments increasingly do not simply assume that 'all will be well' with standards. ICT standards have become an invisible but powerful form of technological rulemaking with consequences for national innovation policy, public safety, knowledge policy, and government efficiency and openness. Even in the 21st century, interoperability through standards is not a given but something that must be promoted. Lack of interoperability or problems with standards can create social or economic harm or contribute to a loss of faith in government. The use of proprietary specifications can impede government functions and services or make e-Government services and critical public information dependent upon a single company. These same proprietary specifications can limit the pace of information and communication technology innovation and be used as technical barriers to trade in global technology markets.” (p. 22)

In other words, Governments should consistently require open standards. As Dr DeNardis states, “When a standard is openly published and available to implement in new products, it can result in multiple, competing products and rapid technological innovation.” (pp. 2-3). The paper shows how leading global ICT standards organisations have adopted open standards policies governing the development, the access to and the availability of the respective organisation's standards. And the paper works out the relation between an eGovernment policy and the various functions governments have to fullfil, be it global trade, facilitating innovation, promoting competitiveness, ensuring fair and equal access to government information and to interaction with public authorities, etc.

Concluding, Dr DeNardis first provides, as she calls it, a “working definition of open standards” built around the key aspects of (i) open in development; (ii) open in implementation; (iii) open in use. And building on this working definition the paper derives a set of eight guiding principles for government interoperability frameworks.

Dr DeNardis' paper is definitely worth reading for everyone who is interested in standards and their use and implementation. It provides deep insights in the interests governments have and need to have in standardisation and open standards as critical elements in support of key government activities and tasks. And it gives a clear perspective on items to consider when defining eGovernance policies. I believe the paper can be of high relevance both for governments as they work on their policies or on refining them; for technology providers as they define their strategies and their portolios; for standardisers as they look at the future standards needed and at the terms and conditions for these standards; and, last but not least, for everyone of us – the citizens – as we have an interest in how public services are designed so that an open and democratic system is provided from which everyone can benefit in the interaction with their governments and authorities.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Relevant link of today: Video message from Vice-President Kroes to GUADEC 2010

Vice-President Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, has given a video message on open source to the upcoming Gnome conference GUADEC 2010. The message is available on Youtube and embedded on the GUADEC website as well. I also embed it below.

In her speech Commissioner Kroes outlines the high acceptance of open source, its potential for innovation and its relevance for governments and public administrations. She mentions the leadership Europe has pursued on openness with the European Interoperability Framework, with other programmes like OSOR.EU, and now with the Digital Agenda and its focus on open standards and interoperability. Only 4 minutes long this is a remarkable address from the Commissioner bringing Europe back into the pacesetting position on driving growth, competitiveness and transformation in the digital age.

 But just watch yourselves: 

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Football world cup 2010 – some personal observations and conclusions

Spain made it – congratulations!!! Haven't got any mail from my Spanish friends and colleagues since the weekend. Wondering when they will have recovered ;-)

I very much like the reaction of Iniesta who scored Spain's golden goal in the final: when being back home and asked to give a speech he said had he known that he would be asked to speak he wouldn't have scored the goal.

I also very much like the Spanish coach. It was reported that his motto in life was that “modesty and intelligence bring success” (see the online article in the FAZ).

In general, modesty and team spirit seem to have won in this world cup. The big stars were not able to dominate the matches. I like that because I am a strong believer in team work and collaboration.

Very many comments were made about the English referee of the final. Some think he should have been more tough and shown red to some Dutch – and by the way the Dutch were really going too far in the aggressive way they were playing and the guy who kicked the breast of his Spanish colleague should have been sent far away. Yet, others say that the referee did well in not “spoiling” this final by showing red cards like mad – as he could have done. Let's say it is a bit like poetic justice that Spain's golden goal was scored after a real mistake by the referee who had decided against corner for the Netherlands. And I think he was not bad at all, he managed to keep control of the match without showing red cards like mad.

Some commentator said that Spain was winning by playing the kind of football that Johan Cruyff introduced in Barcelona more than a decade ago. So ironically you could say that the former Dutch football super-star indirectly prepared the way for Spain to beat the Dutch in this world cup.

This was also the world cup of the highly qualified, meticulously working, highly experienced, and highly inspiring coaches.

France, Italy and England are facing tough times of renewal of their national teams.

I bet that the South American teams will make a lot of efforts to be much better and stronger in four years when the world cup will be held in Brasil – first time back in the Americas since 1986 when it was held in Mexico. First time back in South America since 1978 when the world cup was held in Argentina.

I like the songs from this worldcup, “Wavin' Flag” from K'naan and also Shakira's “Waka Waka” – yes, I do, I always liked Shakira. And good news for Sportfreunde Stiller: they can continue their song in four years by singing “'54, '74, '90, 2014” (they will probably have to pronounce 2014 as “zwanzig vierzehn” to match the rhythm) …

I hope that hosting this world cup in Africa will have some lasting effect. It brought the continent back to people's minds which is highly necessary. I thought the atmosphere was fantastic. I was a bit sad that Ghana did not make it into the semi-finals – would have been nice for Africa to have a team amongst the best 4 of the world.

Spain and Germany were playing the best football. This is what you could call modern football – extremely fast, always awake, extremely good ball handling. It is a pity that these two had to meet at the semi-finals already and could not combat in the final.

I will miss G√ľnther Netzer as co-commentator on TV.

The German team was fantastic. Amazing the team spirit and the friendliness and naturalness of the players. Wonderful ambassadors of modern Germany.

In my opinion Germany was playing the best football since the seventies.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Aphorism of the day

I am certainly too old for being a Digital Native. At best I can try to become a Digital Immigrant. But it will probably be up to my children and the like to decide whether I will be accounted with having residence in Digitaliana.