“Possibly the most basic and necessary feature of any living process is the fact that it goes gradually.”
Christopher ALexander

The Nature of Order Book 2: The Process of Creating Life

Government as a Platform

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This may seem slightly off-topic, but for me there is some valuable cross-over of ideas and domains that do relate to Oameni.

This is a presentation by Tom Loosemore about his work in the UK Government Digital Strategy during the 2015 Code for America summit. In it he describes an architectural view of a government that harnesses digital technology.

My main reflection during and after it was:

  1. Can something like this be built from the groundup – grassroots style. Given that governments are not likely to get there very soon, is this not something that civil society can create for itself and then provide to the government as a tool of governance?
  2. Can something like this be built with a view that goes beyond the national … I’m thinking as a planetary platform?
  3. Can something like this be built as open-source packages that can be instantiated many times in many countries / contexts? After all if something like this is good for one country or city, then it must be good for other countries / cities. Can we, as a species, be smart and efficient about how we go about creating this? Can “creating a government infrastructure” strive to be as simple as creating a WordPress site?

Some thoughts I wanted to capture from this presentation:

“New public infrastructure requires new public institutions.”

The guidelines within which this vision was developed:

“The public has expectations:

  1. Services so good they were previously unimaginable.
  2. Services which work first time in real time.
  3. New services set up in weeks, and run at fraction of today’s cost.
  4. Ministers can see if their policy is working as intended within days or weeks, not decades.
  5. Those on the front line can focus their effort on supporting those who need help the most.
  6. Fraud to be “designed out”; Security to be “baked in”; Defences against both evolve to meet emerging threats.
  7. Services to be highly responsive to feedback from their users.
  8. Accountability should be crystal clear & people able to give instant democractic feedback.
  9. Services should only use “just enough” personal data; The citizen should be in control of how and when their data is accessed.
  10. Open public data is canonical, infrastructural, and immutable; Services use open standards and create open standards.
  11. Services should gracefully span local, central and devolved governments … provided the user consents.
  12. Policies and rules that are visible as code, and you can validate them as a citizen.
  13. Everything is available through an API for 3rd party use … provided the user grants permission, and it’s secure.”

And this architectural view which is explained in the presentations:

governmentasplatform

Also worth checking out these Design Principles

Keep tabs on Richard Pope and James Stewart

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