Getting my back up!

To celebrate World Digital Preservation Day (29 November), the Scottish Government digital team published its guidance on web archiving.

I’m saddened that public authorities apparently need to be told to do this. Remember the zeroth law of computing: There are two kinds of data: that which has been backed up and that which has not been lost yet. A variant of this is Schofield’s second law.

And remember, there is a difference between a back-up and an archive.

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Online Identity Assurance: from the ScotGov blog

Following on from my last post about Online Identity Assurance, this post is to draw attention to a couple of posts on the Scottish Government Digital blog:

I’m pleased to see in the first of these posts

The first stream will be about developing two end-to-end journeys, taken by people using services, that can be shown to work as a ‘proof of concept’. One will centre on the process of applying for a Child Disability Living Allowance – a benefit that will become the responsibility of the new Scottish social security system in 2020 – with the other relating to the process of applying for the single occupant Council Tax deduction offered by local authorities.

because that implies to me that SG is taking a sensible ‘suck it and see’ approach, rather than trying for a Big Bang that ends up full of issues.

The second of these posts announces that videos of the presentations at the October Stakeholder Group meeting. Here’s the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N37xoD04YTM.

And here’s looking forward to more interesting developments in 2019!

Online Identity Assurance stakeholder meeting: 31 October 2018

Being involved, no matter how tangentially, with the Scottish Government’s work on online identity assurance (OIA) is important to me for at least five reasons.

  1. I want government to be efficient, and that means using digital techniques when possible and rational.
  2. While pursuing that aim, government must pay great heed to privacy and security. This is mostly because government has (in theory) great power to do good and do harm. (NB I do not believe that the current SG intends to do harm.)
  3. There will always be people who cannot use digital techniques. This may be because  they don’t know how just now. This may be because they will always lack the mental capacity to know how. This may be because they do not wish to learn how: either they see nothing in it for them, or the potential gains are not worth the time and money outlays for them. And of course it may be because they don’t have a roof over their heads, let alone expensive internet devices.
  4. I’m a social informatics researcher, so anything in the interfaces between IT and society interests me.
  5. My particular research niche is IT in hyperlocal democracy, and there are explicit links between identity and the right to vote. 

The first OIA stakeholder event I attended (March 2018) is written up here. The second (19 June) is written up here.

For the 3rd event (31 March), I used a different tactic – I live-tweeted as well as I could, then collected tweets and other snippets using Wakelet. (This is a successor to Storify, recommended by the fab Leah Lockhart on advice from Ross McCulloch.)

So, so long as Wakelet permits it, my OIA wakelet is here. Comments are very welcome!

Some thoughts on e-voting

This post is inspired by my taking part in the Open Rights Group (Scotland)‘s e-voting round-table in February, and the Scottish Government’s Online Identity Assurance‘show and tell’ in March, and by a seminar by Professor Brian Detlor last week. (My notes from the ORG’s round-table should be available on the Open Government Network website. I’ve also posted them on my personal blog.) In this post, I assume that e-voting would be run on central servers, but votes would be cast via software running on personal phones, tablets and computers. Continue reading

Online identity assurance programme: Scottish Government ‘show & tell’ (28 March 2018) #identityassurance @digitalscots

This post is my digital record of the Scottish Government’s Online Identity Assurance (OLA) ‘show and tell’. The day was very informative, and provided me the opportunity to catch up with friends in civil society circles. I’m especially interested because online identity is a natural precursor to online voting, another problematic area that greatly interests me.

The post starts with a recap of what was said at the event, then notes my input at the event. Next are my reactions to the event itself, followed by my thoughts on the whole OLA programme. In summary, while I think OLA is very worthwhile, and that the Scottish Government is trying to do it the right way, I have a lot of reservations about how useful it will be for those who most need government support.
Continue reading

Creating a Fairer Scotland – events around Scotland

I’m sure we all want to live in a fairer society. But who says what this is, and how can we get there? It’s clear that a government can’t just impose a fairer society – there’d be a massive dichotomy between the imposers and the imposees, even if other parts worked. I’m pretty sure that imposees would reject the whole thing anyway, just because it was imposed, even if everything else about it was great.

Fortunately, the Scottish Government isn’t going down that road. As the Scottish Community Alliance puts it, Continue reading