I'm sure we are in the same position now as when the steam powered printing press was invented; just a little more confused. Everyone these days can own their own press. But we do want to hang on to our old concepts of how media might be controlled don't we? Put a filter on the naughty bits of the Internet so children aren't corrupted. Create a register so those damned telesales people don't disturb me with their sales pitch.

We know that most of the concepts to do with regulating communications and information are broken. Thankfully our legislators know it as well. Pretty hard to put National legislation on a World Wide media network like the Web or a communications network that uses Internet protocols.

As the ACMA report says, "One important consequence of this change is that regulation constructed on the premise that content could (and should) be controlled by how it is delivered is losing its force, both in logic and in practice".

The flipside to that is that it's pretty dumb to think - just by setting up "a channel" to deliver a particular piece of content and spamming away - it's of any use. The commercial media world has learnt that pretty well since the Web was invented. Governments and their agencies, on the other hand, are like stunned rabbits caught in a spotlight; spamming away from some echo chamber.

The new media world consists of communitites of interest or practice, like this one, forming up around a subject of inquiry; if for nothing else, to filter out the spam. So it is nice to see some people in an Aussie.gov department attempting to build a community, even if "The Network is (only) open to public sector employees and academics". i.e. PLUs (people like us).

It seems the academics are right. They say so in their report. "... innovation is not generally embedded into the strategy, planning and culture of public sector agencies". Well that's alright then. So long as we know. Now let's get back to work as usual. i.e. Delivering our services and talking to PLUs.

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Comment by simonfj on April 7, 2012 at 10:10am

Thanks Steve,

It is hard, especially if you've been at the coal face for a long time as so many progressives have been, to see even a little light at the end of a tunnel. It's been much the same in the world of media. The only difference is that, unlike the publicly funded world, if one doesn't pull an audience (or advertising to separate the content), you're out.

These days, private "services" - media being the common one - are (co)designed around demand and public ones are still designed by some expert group, in a silo, around supply. This social separation can't last much longer, especially now that we have an NBN which is in search of sustainable businesses.

This is not a change in social dynamic which can be limited to any one country, although I dislike the Anglo institutional approach to government, and education, primarily because it insists that we must have "well-trained" people who can "design a service" that must "be delivered".i.e. trained (in its narrowest sense) not educated (in its broadest). Your ideas about "behaviours that should have been dispensed with and managed out years ago" illustrate just how pervasive is the Anglo managerial culture.

This leads to the smallest suggestion about improving something - as i have with innovation.govspace's comment eater - becoming something important, not just a "thanks, we'll put it in the bug-fix list." This is the kind of co-design culture which can't be resisted in an online world. Hopefully we might see it get a guensey in Oz. But geez it would be nice if, in the first instance, a citizen heard "thanks for the feedback" from a public servants more often.

BTW. Thanks for the feedback :)

Comment by steve davies on April 2, 2012 at 8:44pm

Absolutely agree. While there is good work going on in relation to innovation in the public service it is fair to say that it is not reflected in the culture or, indeed, practices of many agencies. This is a source of frustration for many public servants.

Too many managers and leaders see innovation and, indeed, Gov 2.0 as something to tick of the list. The tragedy is that they fail to realise that the best way forward is to actually let the many good staff they have innovate and engage. The core problem is that many managers and leaders do not know how to let go.

Essentially what many public servants and, indeed, government and the public are burdened by is a bunch of people who are well networked and confuse process and hierarchy with action and understanding. This isn't simply a generational. It is a historical burden that should have been dispensed with the moment the reports on innovation, Gov 2.0 and public sector reform highlighted the problem of organisational culture.

The impetus for those reports same from some far sighted politicians and, for that matter, public servants. The difficulty is that they are simply outnumbered by cultural artefacts and behaviours that should have been dispensed with and managed out years ago.

The failure to do so is costly. Too many staff, managers and leaders who do 'get it' are being held back by those who do not wish to.

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