Had fun doing talk this afternoon at HAR2009. While I was taking a nap afterward someone wrote a very nice review on the HAR wiki.
To spice things up a bit I added a new aspect about areas of public sector IT that should be under ultimate control by public sector organisations. I'm still refining these ideas but this is the gist of it:
Conservative party leader David Cameron held a speech at the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts on April 3rd. Aside from the usual criticism (not all undeserved) at the current government he talked about the network society and bottom-up collaboration enable by ubiquitous access to IT. He (or his staffer) had obviously read "Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win" by William C. Taylor and Polly G. Labarre. And a good thing too since it is filled with good examples of how to innovate by sticking your neck out and doing things differently.
About three quarters through the speech Cameron very explicitly stated that his government, if elected, would actively seek a greater use of opensource software and mandate the use of open standards for public IT systems. According to him this will enable faster innovation in the public sector while avoiding repeats of the very expensive NHS disaster.
There were two elections on my news radar the last two weeks. One in an African country now rapidly sinking into an economic crash and possible civil war, the other in the heart of the civilized west; the OOXML election by ISO standards body in Geneva. Aside from the locations and prices of hotels for journalists the differences were few. Bribery, fraud and intimidation were applied to achieve a specific outcome, never mind what the majority wanted. In the OOXML election even the standards organizations of proper democratic countries like Norway and Germany were unable to withstand the well-oiled lobby machine of the worlds most convicted software monopolist. In the Netherlands Microsoft was actually a member of the committee and prevented a committee consensus. So instead of voting against the standards, as 21 out of 22 members wanted, the Netherlands voted 'abstain'.
The Dutch national government is proceeding with its new implementation of 'GOUD' (Gold), its new plan for a 'standardized desktop' for ministries and other governmental institutions. After the much publicized new Dutch National IT-policy of last autumn this might sound wonderful. It's not.
The problem with the 'standardized desktop' is that it uses very few real standards. Instead it uses products and pretends they are standards. The difference between 'standards' and the idea of 'standards products' is widely misunderstood, often confused and this is where projects such as 'GOUD' go off in troublesome directions.