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The Europe Roundup: Debating "Life Hacking" on EU Websites

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, November 22 2011

  • EU | Debating "Life Hacking" on EU Websites: Useful Tips and Comments
    Did you know that Google and other searches can make your life much easier when you're trying to find relevant information in the messy EU websites?
    Researcher and euroblogger Ronny Patz writes a post with some useful tips.
    Civic hacking? Not exactly.
    There's a fascinating conversation going on in the comments on his post, when 10COM (an initiative that raises awareness on digital data trafficking) writes:

    Making essential governemental information findable for citizens can’t be seen as hacking and shouldn’t be seen that way. It’s an essential democratic right, in legal and political worlds known as ‘freedom of information’ or ‘#opengov’ 

    People working for public bodies, responsible for this type of tasks, shouldn’t create internal buzz to support non-paid outsiders to develop ‘opengov’ tools. They should demand their bosses for straight, integrated policy with clear budgets. The EU should employ gov2.o teams to create visualisations; smart website search-tools; citizen-interaction api’s etc. 

    Patz's answer focuses on how this kind of "hacking" can be a way to control governments' actions and push them on specific issues:

    1) I fully agree that it’s on governments to become more transparent, that this has to be a fight for open gov and open data. And I’ve been fighting this fight and will continue to do.   

    2) The current government and public administration are structures designed for 19th century conditions adapted to solve some 20th century problems. Unless we in civil society in the public show the way through smaller or larger “hacks” – creative solution-finding, data crunching, etc. – these institutions won’t realise how far they are behind and where the change they need to put in place may lead to. 

    3) “Life hacking”, whether in the real or the digital world, can also be ways to control governments, to push governments harder than they want. I’m not a believer in the always-good-and-correct government story, and I think civil society has to show where there are problems and has to criticise governments actively. A creative and non-destructive hack from time to time can be one of many helpful tools. 

    4) All things have to go together, but I won’t let a slow government prevent me from getting solutions today that it would need one year to solve.

    Are there ways to create fruitful collaboration between civil servants (that may be even scared by the word "hacking") and civil society (that may be way more active and working at a different pace)?
    Follow up in the comments and read Patz's other post on EU Court judgements.

  • EU | Short Guide to Lazy EU Journalism

    Euroblogger Kosmopolit publishes a "short guide to lazy journalism": 20 commonplaces and wrong practices of EU journalism.
    One for all? Check number 4:

    General rule: No need to distinguish between different European institutions and organisations. Who cares whether it is the Council of Europe, the European Council, the Council of the EU, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union or the European Court of Human Rights . –> Just write something about eurocrats and unelected foreign European judges interfering with your beloved country.

    The guide has been translated into German, French and Italian.
    What do you think? Have you ever encountered the work of a lazy EU journalist?

  • UK | Introducing Jordan Hatch

    Last month, I took the difficult decision to leave full-time education and dive head-first into freelance web development, and a short time later I was on a train down to a rather-daunting London. In the short while I’ve been at GDS [Government Digital Service], I’ve built out an app to display calendars, such as bank holidays and clock change. Over the course of this fortnight’s sprint, I’ll be working on enhancements to the publishing workflow, amongst other things.

    Jordan Hatch, 17, who recently joined the development team working on the beta version of gov.uk, a single domain for government websites.

  • Plus
    Check the ongoing work on the Data Digitizer, a tool for transcribing documents and tables that are not currently machine-readable.
    The first Finnish open data meetup (November 30, Helsinki)
    Scotland Digital Participation Charter