Thinking more about the work programme for the Task Force and the layered model I described earlier, there is a need for an additional layer above the Presentation Layer.
INTERACTION LAYER – the methods used for engaging with people interested in the data being presented, including both reactive, e.g. accepting comments, and proactive, e.g. introducing material into blogs and social networks, methods.
This goal of increasing interaction around government data is an important part of the Power of Information analysis and a number of activities are underway in this area.
An early priority amongst these is to produce guidelines for civil servants who already want to interact with social media but are unsure about the propriety of this.
Tom Watson blogged his initial ideas on some guidelines a few weeks ago. This has fed into a more formal process that was triggered by PoI report recommendation 13 –
To maximise the potential value of civil servants’ input into online fora, by autumn 2007 the Cabinet Office Propriety and Ethics and Government Communications teams should together clarify how civil servants should respond to citizens seeking government advice and guidance online.
This clarification is an essential element to enable the development of a sound Interaction Layer. With these rules in place, with a public version expected soon, we can work on further building expertise and capacity within government for engagement with social media.
Article by Richard Allan, Task Force Chair.