SNP march on Westminster may be good for UK IT

Following the SNP’s remarkable general election night, I have taken a close look at its manifesto for The Register. Although the SNP has ended up in opposition in Westminster, it looks likely that some of its proposals may well come about through further devolution to Scotland, particularly the fiscal ones on taxation, grants and the like. Continue reading “SNP march on Westminster may be good for UK IT”

For The Register: what the general election could mean for tech policy

Following my article earlier this week on the manifestos and implications for NHS professionals, I have looked at how they might combine to change tech policy, on issues including surveillance, business and IT, government IT, immigration and the EU (both of some interest to the tech industry), employment law and the whole ‘actually having a government’ issue.

My conclusion: Continue reading “For The Register: what the general election could mean for tech policy”

On cities and data for

I kicked off a new series, Supplier side, for last week with two pieces: one on what Ukip’s rise means for businesses (not good), the other on the insights you can gain from cities and data:

Cities are found at the extremes of all kinds of official datasets. National Statistics produces workplace-based gross value added figures, roughly equivalent to gross domestic product for an area’s workplaces, for 193 areas of the UK. The UK-wide figure for 2012 was £21,674. London’s was £37,232, and if you break it down further, inner London west (including the City and Westminster) totted up £127,127, nearly six times the national average.

Everyone knows London is rich, but the same pattern is visible on smaller scales. The second highest gross value added in the UK is the City of Edinburgh’s £35,614, 74 per cent higher than the Scottish average of £20,423. Leeds generates £24,770 a head, compared with £19,149 across all of West Yorkshire. Cities are the places where regions and counties go to work, as well as countries.

Continue reading “On cities and data for”

Review: The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser – how to burst these bubbles

I referred to filter bubbles a while ago, and thought I should get around to reading the book of that name by Eli Pariser. Written in 2011, and subtitled ‘What the internet is hiding from you’, it is an interesting review of web personalisation and its dangers, current and future. It takes as its starting point Google’s announcement in December 2009 that it would personalise every search result, so trapping web users in an ‘Adderall Society’, where like users of that drug they become more focused and less curious.

It’s an interesting read, and Mr Pariser – who among other things has been executive director of the online campaigning service and is now co-founder of viral-with-a-purpose social media firm Upworthy– has civic-minded concerns about people becoming ignorant of hard news, particularly from abroad, as the likes of Google and Facebook serve up only what someone is likely to click on.

However, while it’s good that The Filter Bubble includes a section headed ‘What individuals can do’, I think quite a lot remained unsaid. The section suggests you delete cookies regularly, and there’s a good comparison of Twitter and Facebook, the former with simple rules and lots of user control, the latter with complex, often-shifting ones which have been known to change a user’s semi-private data into public. Continue reading “Review: The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser – how to burst these bubbles”