Happy Birthday, New UK Government Data Service

“At our most recent round of usability testing, for example, many participants came to the sessions already aware of the project. Several of them said amazing things about how it was making their working lives easier as well as teaching them things they never knew about government (some even said they’d like to spend spare time just clicking around). In the round before that, the research company told us it was the most positive response to user testing they had ever experienced.

What we are building is not only world class, but a world first. The governments of New Zealand, Croatia, Sweden and Norway have told us they intend to reuse aspects of what we have built, from the design down to the entire codebase.”

Marking one year since the Inside Government beta | Government Digital Service.

See. FLOSS and openness works. You can do it as well. Just use Free/Libre Open Source Software and GNU/Linux operating systems. I have often set up such systems in schools and people enjoyed the freedom to do what they wanted with IT, freed from restrictive EULAs and malware. In one school, every student and staff had an account with their own webpage, access to all the usual desktop stuff and many databases overflowing with useful data. Compare that with the usual stuff from M$ just sitting their waiting for people to type stuff not knowing when the system will pause or freeze. I have worked in schools where staff were fearful to click on an HTML link using XP. With Free Software users are limited only by their imaginations and they romp around the pasture when they realize they can do anything they put their minds to do.

I recommend using Debian GNU/Linux because it works just to save shopping for a distro although that can be fun too. Some schools are set up to allow users to choose a distro and get it on the next reboot. I like to make individual configurations for users. It’s not hard with systems like Sabayon. One could even arrange that users would be able to publish their configurations and have users choose any of them to be theirs. Compare that flexibility with the rigidity of that other OS. To think that people actually pay extra for that other OS is simply sad. It’s like a billion people paying to be locked up.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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4 Responses to Happy Birthday, New UK Government Data Service

  1. Dr Loser, quoting himself, wrote, “There seems to be a self-appointed team of dozens of hackers doing this, and all they have to show for it after a year or so is a beta project going backwards with admitted information holes and a bunch of screen-shots.”

    Nope. They are using FLOSS, stuff already written like LAMP, WordPress etc. They only have to do a minimal amount of hacking, mostly configuration.

    “By 2014, websites of all government departments and many other public bodies will be merged into the Inside Government section of http://www.gov.uk. Some have already moved, and more will be joining soon.
    Ministerial departments

    13 of 24
    are live on GOV.UK

    Other departments & public bodies

    16 of 300+”

    So, they are about half way in terms of departments and they are sharing the work on the base system and everyone adds their own content. The citizens get to watch what their government is doing, a great thing in a democracy.

  2. Dr Loser says:

    What more evidence?

    I don’t know, Robert. Possibly an external audit?

    There seems to be a self-appointed team of dozens of hackers doing this, and all they have to show for it after a year or so is a beta project going backwards with admitted information holes and a bunch of screen-shots.

    There’s a lesson here: if you want to reinforce the worth of http://www.bozo,com, do not link your argument to a defence at http://www.bozo.com.

    And were you really trying to infuriate me, the son of two teachers, by linking to the following?

    The government wants to ensure the system for funding universities is financially sustainable. We think this can be achieved by asking graduates – the people who benefit most from higher education – to pay more towards their education than they have in the past.

    That’s the first paragraph, Robert.

    Not only does it have nothing to do with FLOSS. Not only does it make no difference, either way, to the http://www.bozo.com under examination.

    It’s also bloody offensive to somebody who believes that education should be free, or as nearly so as possible.

    That “somebody” would include me. And hitherto I had assumed you.

    But perhaps charging people the best part of ten thousand quid a year for tuition is perfectly acceptable in the Pogson household, so long as the underlying web app runs on GNU/Linux.

    Imagine the savings!


  3. I can go see the fruits of their labour like this:

    What more evidence do you need?

    They are using WordPress, PHP, GNU/Linux widely on their servers and they are up to speed on FLOSS.

  4. Dr Loser says:

    You have the wrong link, I think, Robert. The more “FLOSSy” one is here.

    It’s hard to see how any of this supports the Four Freedoms, or indeed GNU/Linux in general. Your link, for example, just shows screen-shots from a year ago compared to screen-shots from today. Now, we happen to know that these are not the result of a MS architecture, but only because we’ve been told so: there’s no internal evidence.

    So what’s so great about all this? At this point it’s just a self-congratulatory piece of guff from a bunch of project insiders. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not likely to convince anybody else (who unlike you is not pre-convinced). And …

    This is a slightly different flavour of beta to the previous GOV.UK release, in that it’s much less finished.

    Happy birthday indeed. One year, and they’re already going backwards. On a beta.

    There’s a city hall in Bavaria that somehow springs to mind when I read this sort of thing…

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