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The Start of Our Open Government Series

Government Building

It has been a long time since the last todaysnote post. This week, we will begin to produce some new content, and there are some blog updates, as well, that you may notice. I hope you will use the Subscribe! link on the top menu to sign up for our mailing list. We will send you updates on new notes as they are posted.

We are going to resume posts with a series on Open Government and eGovernment initiatives. The first post on this topic is about “The Open Data Economy, Unlocking Economic Value by Opening Government and Public Data,” a 2013 report published by CapGemini. At a healthy 17 pages, this report is far longer than most articles todaysnote has reviewed. However, it is a very insightful document, and well worth a read.

Open government initiatives seek to increase transparency of government by making public data more available and by increasing interaction between the public and government entities. This drives improved accountability and efficiency.

How prevalent is the trend toward open government? The report tells us (pg 6), and the statistics are not impressive.

“-Only 22% of countries shared data that can be classified as comprehensive – data with high value information, granular in nature and including extensive datasets.
– 96% of the countries analyzed share data which is not regularly updated.
– Over 60% of the countries we analyzed lacked enhanced search capabilities.

It is clear from these examples that data collection and dissemination has not been regularized, nor are data accessible enough to drive the kinds of economic benefits the report authors are trying to help us see.

But there is some good news. The Open Data Economy report cites numerous examples of the benefits of Open Government initiatives, and interestingly, these benefits accrue within both the public and private sectors. Where data are collected and made available, both citizens and businesses flourish. And if you think that doing this represents a great expense for governments, it would seem that at the very least there are savings that offset those expenses. Among the most interesting examples:

” Open Data and access to real-time information saved over $1 million for the city of San Francisco in the US. The city’s Chief Innovation Officer announced in June 2012 that access to real-time transit data resulted in 21.7% fewer SF311 calls.”

“in California USA, the state transparency portal (that cost around $21,000 to implement) saved the state over $20 million when visitors identified unnecessary expenditure.”

“In 2011-12, the NHS in England spent more than £400m on statins…out of a total drug budget of £12.7 billion. Some of these drugs are more expensive than others: patented ones can cost 20 times more than generic versions… It was found that on an average £27m a month of potentially unnecessary expenditure on the two proprietary statins took place in 2011 “

How many of these initiatives were you aware of before you read this post? I would like to know what Open Government initiatives may be going on in your state or country. Please leave a comment below if you know of any! Maybe we can all learn something.

Quick Note: Tablets

Today’s Note briefly discusses the tablet market. “iPad Remains Dominant in 1Q’2012 While Kindle Fire Fizzles” on abiresearch.com discusses the current tablet market. Really, the title kind of says it all.

Apparently the Samsung units slid into second place in the market behind the iPad.

However, the post does tell us:

“A pattern similar to smartphones is also occurring in tablets,” says Jeff Orr, group director, consumer research. “Apple and Samsung have demonstrated staying power while other tablet vendors ebb and flow like the tide.” Only two leading branded tablet OEMs – RIM (233%) and Lenovo (107%) – bucked the downward first quarter shipment trends, while Taiwan’s ASUS remained flat sequentially from 4Q’2011. Several vendors, including Dell, HP, and LG are currently retooling tablet portfolios for mid-year launches of Android 4.0 along with the much anticipated Windows 8 slates debuting later in 2012.

[italics added by me to quotes from the post]

Keeping track of the latest developments in the tablet world isn’t easy. But this blog post does have some useful things to say. The article as published before the release of the well-concealed Microsoft product, though.

Quick Note: Twitter, Bots and Data Torture

Today’s Note asks what you can prove if you try hard enough. Dr. Andrea Di Maio, of Gartner, published a blog post titled “Torturing the Data Long Enough Will Make It Confess Anything” on the Gartner blog site.

The Gartner blog site was unknown to me before I followed a link to this article. It is well worth a look to see what you might be interested in. Like many of the posts, Di Maio’s post is brief but well composed. He takes to task some recent research on social media, and Twitter in particular. His article opens with this enticing paragraph:

Last week Reuters, Financial Times and the Huffington Post referenced a rather sensationalistic outcome published by an Italian entrepreneur and contract university professor who is well known in Italian social media circles. His research allegedly showed that “up to 46 percent of Twitter followers of companies with active profiles could be generated by robots, or bots”.

The idea that 46% of corporate Twitter account followers are not humans is fairly provocative. It would certainly turn on its ear the notion that social networks such as Twitter are capable of generating mass traffic worth of great revenues. But Di Maio found the research suspect, and his post explains why:

I guess it is quite obvious that most of these measures are rather arbitrary and debatable measures, and changing the scoring system would be both easy and plausible. For instance, are people who mostly lurk and do not write tweets any less human than those who are compulsive writers and retweeters? Does using a mobile device make somebody more human? Using twitter.com rather than the many tweeter applications for PC and mobile devices make somebody more human?

The blog post is worth a read, and won’t take long. Also interesting are the comments exchanged at the bottom of the post. Among the people commenting is the apparent author of the original research, and the exchanges about the post are very interesting. I hope you will enjoy it!

Today’s Note: Linsanity Revisited

In February, a Note titled “Today’s Note: Linsanity?” discussed the some economic aspects of the rising phenomena of Jeremy Lin, the Knicks’ guard who swept into the NBA from nowhere and captured the imagination of basketball fans everywhere. While Lin’s on-court impact was short-lived, largely due to injury, his impression seems to be more persistent.

Today’s Note recaps a Mashable.com blog post by Sam Laird. The post, “Linsanity! Jeremy Lin Strikes Back With Social Media Award,” explores not Lin’s athletic prowess, but instead his social media accomplishments. Laird explains that “Now Lin is being honored by the NBA for his social media dominance. The league announced this week that Lin has been named its first-ever “Social Breakout Player of the Year.” ” [all italics are added by me to quotes from the article] What has Lin done to merit this award? Quite a bit, it seems. Laird writes:

As Lin briefly dominated the NBA before succumbing to exhaustion and eventually injury, his name and the hashtag #Linsanity became a regular globally trending topic on Twitter. He added more than 130,00 followers in a week, and tribute raps popped up on YouTube. Photos of a high school-age Lin impersonating NBA players on his old Xanga blog went viral, as did a number of memes paying homage to his unexpected greatness.

Even more interesting than Lin’s individual accomplishments is the NBA’s zeal to exploit them. To be fair, it’s not just Linsanity that the NBA is leveraging. Laird’s post goes on to say that this announcement “comes in advance of Wednesday’s NBA Social Media Awards, the first time a major professional sports league has specifically honored player achievements and activity in the social realm.” Clearly, the NBA sees social media as a point of leverage to reach many of today’s younger fans, who greedily consume their world in 140 byte chunks. And who can blame them?

What do you think of the NBA’s strategy, here? Is it smart marketing, or cheap exploitation? Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

According to his Mashable bio:

Sam Laird reports and writes about sports, the Internet, tech, social media, and other topics from Mashable’s San Francisco bureau. Before joining Mashable in November 2011, his freelance work appeared in publications including the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Slam, and East Bay Express. Sam is a graduate of UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, and basketball and burritos take up most of his spare time. Follow him on Twitter@samcmlaird.

Quick Note: Most Popular Posts This Week

Today’s Note recaps the most viewed older posts over the past week. I found it interesting that many of the posts on the list are as much as six months old. I hope you enjoy these older posts!

Today’s Note: Designing a Customer Experience8 views

This very sharp article, then, explores the task of designing a customer experience. I have to admit, this is something I have rarely considered. Anyone who has ever been to a Disney property knows they do it well, but it may seem more art than science.

Quick Note: Social Networks in the Work Place2 views

Today’s Quick Note is about social networks in the work place. Written by Lisa Bonner, guest blogging at Blogging4Jobs.com, “Employee Social Network Brings Employees Closer Together” is a very brief and down to earth testimonial of the power of digital engagement, and a very different take on the subject.

Quick Note: Digital Brand Building Tip1 views

Today’s Quick Note covers an article in Advertising Age’s digital edition atAdAge.com. The online post, titled “Five Important Social-Media Tips to Boost Your Brand,” addresses several key elements of building a brand online using social media tools. This post is brief, succinct and useful.

Quick Note: Is the NBA More Consistent Than the NFL?1 views

A discussion about a Freakonomics.com blog post that compares season-to-season predictability of athlete performance. This post, by Dave Berri, is titled “Talent Evaluation is Different in the NFL and NBA.”

Today’s Note: The Indianapolis Super Bowl’s Social Media Command Center, Debriefed1 views

Several Notes have covered many aspects of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. One key Note highlighted the fact that the event would be among the first to feature a facility dedicated to making social media an integral part of the community support network.

Quick Note: Interesting Piece on Dan Rather1 views

This Note is about an interesting Forbes.com article on Dan Rather.

Today’s Note: The College World Series and Social Media

Today’s Note is about the use of social media around the NCAA Baseball College World Series, held annually in Omaha, Nebraska. Unlike some other recent sporting evens, such as the Superbowl and the Final Four, there seems to be relatively little social media involvment in the CWS. I’ve located a handful of interesting links that you might like to check out, though.

Stony Brook Students Celebrate College World Series Trip With Facebook Mosaic

This interesting, but brief, story talks about a neat photo collage created by students of Stony Brook University, a cinderella team in this year’s CWS.

Arizona Baseball is headed to the College World Series!

This blog post contains links to a number of social media web sites associated with University of Arizona athletics. The U of A makes fairly extensive use of Twitter, and there are numberous twitter accounts to follow, as well as a list of web sites and other resources. A three time College World Series champion, Arizona generates a lot of media content and community attention about the CWS! Try the #CWS hashtag on twitter for a lot of interesting content!

The 2012 College World Series: 10 Things to Know

Yahoo provided this interesting list of ten things you might want to know about the College World Series.  It is a good introduction to information about the Series, and provides a link to receive text messages about the Series from the organizers.

I was lucky enough to attend a Friday night game with my son, after making a three hour drive from our home in Kansas. The Series is well organized and has amazing local support. The entire downtown area is mobilized, with great parking, an NCAA sanctioned Fan Fest, and a baseball Village full of food and vendors.  We spent hours at and near the park. My only complain was a general lack of cell coverage near the park, which made utilizing mobile social media difficult. It strikes me that a couple of mobile cell towers would have totally changed the profile of the event from a social media aspect.

In any case, the above links are helpful and interesting. You should check them out, and even better, attend the Series if you’re able!

Today’s Note: Print Media, Customer Surveys and Social Networking Kindness…Tidbits From Recent HBR.com Blog Posts

Today’s Note recaps some recent HBR.com blog posts that you might have missed. These are among my favorites over the past few weeks, and I recommend any or all of them for a quick read. As always, I strongly recommend HBR.com’s blogs as a quick dose of smart advice in your day.

Why Newspapers Were Doomed All Along

This interesting post discusses the continuing decline of print media in the face of online content that is fresher, faster and in many cases, smarter. Author Justin Fox sums up the trend nicely with this quote: “We are seeing, as Jack Shafer and others have pointed out, a death spiral in which newspapers react to their loss of readers by cutting back on their news-gathering resources and raising prices, thus making themselves even less attractive to readers.” [all italics are added by me to call out quotes from the blog posts]

Case Study: Should You Listen to the Customer?

This is a very compelling case study, written by Thomas J. DeLong and Vineeta Vijayaraghavan, about a company grasping for growth and understanding of its relationship with its customer base. Most interesting, perhaps, are the reader comments in the thread following the post. This case study will make you think, and the comments will help you see how others thought about the problems presented in the study. Very well worth a read.

Could a Social-Media Tool Increase Kindness?

This blog post discusses a soon-to-be available social network that is built around recording, measuring and amplifying acts of kindness. Grant McCracken authored this post, and used his home city of Boston, and its frosty culture, to call out the potential of this network. I have to admit that I’m having a bit of trouble getting traction on this idea, but I’m curious to know what you think about it. If you read the post. leave a comment on this thread and let me know what you think about it.

Today’s Note: More on Megaupload

Today’s Quick Note discusses Timothy Lee’s article, “Megaupload claims it is beyond the reach of US criminal law,” on ArsTechnica.com.

Lee writes that “Megaupload, a corporation whose file-sharing business was effectively destroyed by a January indictment, has asked a Virginia judge to dismiss the case against it. It argues that because it is not based in the United States and has no offices there, it is not subject to US criminal law.” [all italics added by me to denote quotes from the article] Moreover, Megaupload seems to be pressing the case that they can’t be brought to court because it’s effectively impossible for them to be served summons in the United States. They are asking for the case against the company to be dismissed. The payoff for this is considerable: “Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken tells Ars he believes that if the case against Megaupload is dismissed, all orders against the company—including those freezing the firm’s assets—would be vacated.

Lee goes on to discuss several other interesting elements of the legal case against the corporation. This article is well worth a quick read. Timothy Lee can be followed on twitter at @binarybits.

Today’s Note: A Cure for Allergies?

Today’s Quick Note refers to this Forbes Article, “Finnish Scientists Discover Vaccine To Eliminate Allergies,” which discusses a possible mechanism for nipping allergies in the bud. The article, by Forbes Author Jennifer Hicks,  who reviews the science employed by Finnish researchers to shut down allergies at the molecular level, where the immune response starts. According to Hicks, “Patients will hypothetically develop a natural immunity against each allergy they have been vaccinated for in the same manner immunity is created against infectious diseases with vaccinations.” [all italics are added by me]  Moreover, “The team, through the formation of a new bio-tech company called Desentum, hope to have the vaccine on the market within five to seven years.” In the meantime, you’ll have to keep buying tissues. Even so, it’s an interesting article and a neat concept. Give it a look.