The government & mash-ups

Widgets, mash-ups, tag clouds etc. Names given to online technologies get weirder by the day. But that doesn’t bother the government one single bit. See they’re using them to get up close and personal with voters.

But first things first, where are these words used?

Well, they’re found hanging around interactive social networks – the ones you spend every waking second on. Facebook and Bebo probably being the two main culprits. They generally allow graphics and info to be changed, or added to, by the user. You have the power.

Widgets are ones you’ll be more than familiar with.

These are basically portable pieces of code that can be installed onto your system. Ranging from clocks, to news feeds, to weather forecasts, there are millions of these desktop buttons. Trust us, we’ve messed around with most of them.

On to tag clouds. These are displays of words relating to a particular subject that can be coloured or sized differently depending on how many times they’ve been linked to that subject. A top example is the internet radio and music site last.fm. This site gives musicians a tag cloud of different categories so you can identify what type of music they put out. That way you can steer clear of any tunes that don’t exactly do it for you.

And then there’s mash-ups. They’re born when info from more than one source is thrown together to make a new resource. Google Maps is up there and can be tagged with photos and other information.

Now I know what you’re thinking? What the heck does all this have to do with government?

Well web 2.0 technologies like the ones mentioned above, have got what it takes to keep in regular contact with people. Something which (believe it or not) has not been properly tapped into yet. More? It’s a great tool for getting messages in the faces of the right people.

The local authority Redbridge (www.redbridge.gov.uk), have pushed the boat out further. Much further. Because they’ll let you mess with the design and format of their site, and allow you to shift all your interests right up front. It’s good. Very good. And all the awards on their shelves say so too.

You could be involved in developing e-democracy as:

  • An information technology consultant advising government on how to employ new on-line technologies in education, public health campaigns or elections
  • A web designer working to make sure e-democracy pages are attractive, and easy to use
  • A digital marketing consultant helping public sector organisations to get maximum search engine exposure for their opinion-gathering or educational sites
  • An ICT teacher teaching children how to use the latest internet technology
  • A council officer using Web 2.0 features to consult the public on council services

You may also like to have a look at the BigAmbition website for more information on IT and Digital Careers.