If you missed Martha Lane Fox speaking at the 2015 Richard Dimbleby Lecture, there are 13 days left to watch it on iPlayer.
There are so many quotable parts from the transcript, but I’ll limit myself.
We just need to go much, much faster and we need to make sure all of us are included.
We need more politicians and senior civil servants who realise that ‘getting’ digital means more than operating a Twitter account or taking an iPad to meetings.
What digital is about, what the internet allows, is a radical redesign of services. Cheaper, better, faster. This frees up money, resources and attention to put into the really important work, the work on the frontline.
We are about to go to the polls in an election where we are being asked to choose between seemingly competing visions. Crudely put, one of less spend and one of even less spend. But this is not as simple a decision as we are being told.
We’re still wasting colossal fortunes on bad processes and bad technologies. In a digital world, it is perfectly possible to have good public services, keep investing in frontline staff and spend a lot less money. Saving money from the cold world of paper and administration and investing more in the warm hands of doctors, nurses and teachers.
There is a huge opportunity here to do public services differently. What we need is politicians and leaders who can escape the old assumptions.
Why, then, are our politicians are not talking to us about this? Because they don’t understand it well enough.
Relevant to our ongoing conversation about what happens to digital assets after death:
It’s not right for us, or fair on them, that it’s the big commercial technology platforms that are currently the dominant voices in these debates. Google and Facebook are writing the answers because our institutions and legislators can’t cope and don’t have enough expertise.
Just one more.
We wouldn’t make policy decisions about health care matters without consulting doctors and medical ethicists. According to the same logic, we shouldn’t make privacy and data policy without consulting technologists and encryption experts. The Snowden revelations and subsequent tribunal this year found that up to 2013, GCHQ had been undermining encryption and bulk collecting our data. Whatever you think about the effectiveness of executive oversight, everyone agrees that the legislation governing our data is woefully inadequate.
Right now, many of the people responsible for renewing that legislation don’t have all the technical knowledge required to do the best job possible. Surely this has to change.
I like what I know of Martha Lane Fox, she was the UK’s Digital Champion during the formation of the Government Digital Services, a department I’ve followed and been impressed with. I also agree that the UK needs to be pushing digital skills and education far, far more aggressively than is happening at the moment.
I’m interested to see what becomes of DOT EVERYONE, the proposed “new institution [to] make Britain brilliant at the internet”. However, I fear that the lack of digital knowledge among those capable of setting up such an institution, the very knowledge it would be designed to provide, may be it’s undoing before it’s even started. Also, the name is not good. I’m all for a generic name to provide flexibility (“Echoleft”, anyone?), but public bodies are rarely offered that luxury. The BBC and NHS are cited as direct examples, but they tell people what they do in their name. If you’re really stuck, call it whatever you want, just make sure it has a great acronym.
I signed the petition, because I want to be sure that if there’s any chance to make some noise about digital education, I’m adding my own little bit of volume to it.