As a non government employee, though i do work for government systems, you may wonder why i am committed to being here and want to contribute.
To me its really starting to look like government is going to make good use of Web 2.0 to transform the way it can ‘do business with’ its citizens, and most importantly to start to address some of the regulatory issues that Industry could do with some help with. And right at the centre of this is ownership of, and use of, data, or content. As an example I would like to refer back to an event back in mid January that seemed to suggest that there are groups making some real progress. You can find the details at http://www.freeourdata.org.uk/ of one group working under the title of ‘Free our data; make taxpayers’ data available to them’. This is a pretty interesting site and has links to activities in several countries, and helpfully provides a search engine.
Type in DRM, Digital Rights Management, and it finds nothing. Poor old DRM always seems to be left out in the cold, and yet as we move forward there is a pretty strong consensus that content, and as I want to separate this from old fashion machine centric data I will refer to it as content, is key. The generally accepted view is value is created by using, or in this case the whole point is value is created by sharing, but in the world of Web 2.0 I think this means using MashUps. My chain of thought therefore goes something like; I let you use my data probably in forms that will allow you to change it, combine it, and use it in the context of your choosing.
And this is government data? Supposedly, I would have thought, the best authenticated source of statistics etc, (yes I know that some would claim that Web has taught us to mistrust Politicians, but this is national statistical data). And what happens if this content is then recollected and recompiled? Makes the fact that you can’t take an average of averages look like child’s play in comparison to what could happen. Answer, better to say no, and here is where a lot of initiatives to allow wider use of content whether in Government or Industry freeze.
And this is why I can’t understand why DRM isn’t at the fore front of one heck of a lot of these blogs, initiatives, or even high on CIOs lists of priorities for the coming year. May be everyone has a secret plan to change all their content into PDF formats?
However if search Google News, (there are other search engines of course), on DRM then the dominate issue is all around music and copyrights, and this leads to some very heavyweight views on the topic, around the whole concept of the right to share. I have used the music industry as an example before as it’s the place where a number of issues have reached a tipping point first. For a heavy weight anti DRM view still an active post even though it was written in 2003 take a look at the ‘DRM Fallacy’ http://www.timj.co.uk/digiculture/drm-fallacy as an encapsulation of the arguments. However go to the home page of the author and he spells out a wider set of his beliefs in how Digital Culture’ should be ‘free of constraints’.
Free of constraints is an interesting phrase, it can also mean free to use in a misleading manner in the context of Government, or even Industry information. Personally, I would prefer to know that prime sources of content are protected from misuse in terms of being, at best presented out of context, and at worse changed to mislead. So, I for one am hopeful that the increasing interest of Governments in many countries to make use of Web 2.0 as the means to achieve a more ‘interactive’ relationship with their citizens will change the focus from the music and media industry to a wider and more constructive view, and that DRM will move back into play as one of the key enablers of Government 2.0.
Take a look at the site of Anthony Williams, who with Don Tapscott, (Wikinomics auther), has turned their attention onto Government 2.0 as their next topic of interest. http://anthonydwilliams.com/2007/05/08/announcing-government-20/