Tag Archives: EdenT

Bullet points from UK Govcamp 2012

I spent Friday and Saturday at UKGovCamp2012, a splendid unconference, in London, for people interested in the use of digital technologies in local and national government. Or “Glasto for Geeks” as it has famously been described. My friend and fellow attendee Dan Slee has suggested that we all blog a list of 20 thoughts we brought away from the event. I’m happy to oblige.

Steph Gray planning sessions at UKGovCamp 2012. Picture by David J Pearson; some rights reserved.

  1. Our national and London rail systems are overpriced, and the former’s ticketing is ridiculously over-complicated.
  2. It’s a good idea to walk (or cycle) through London, rather then getting the tube. You’ll see great architecture and public art, and get a better impression of how the various districts are laid out. But wear sensible shoes.
  3. Geeks do have great senses of humour. Especially those at our generous hosts and butt of jokes, Microsoft.
  4. There is still a lot of uncertainty about Open Data — what’s it for, what do we want, how should we use it. This is good, because — despite some valid concerns about the centralisation of innovation more generally — there is still room for us to innovate with Open Data.
  5. There are a lot of Brompton bikes in London. I’m determined to take mine on a future trip.
  6. We need better systems in place for using social media in responding to emergency situations. Expect some exciting news about a new project I and some fellow attendees are planning, soon.
  7. Anke Holst does not appear old enough to have a teenage child.
  8. When beta.gov.uk comes out of beta, and current .go.uk domains are “retired”, it’s really, really important that existing links to them, from external sites, still work. And by work, I mean go to relevant content, not a home page. As a very wise man once said, “Cool URIs don’t change“.
  9. It’s possible to spend one or two days at an event with good friends, and still fail to manage to say hello to them. Apologies if that’s you.
  10. Open Data and Freedom of Information are the two are opposite sides of the same coin. If an organisation has people responsible for Open Data and FoI and those people are not either the same, or closely linked, then that organisation has a problem.
  11. Terence Eden is not only (with ) a generous host, but also an impressively entertaining speaker. If his day job fails (it won’t) he has a viable alternative career in stand-up observational comedy. I went to his QR code session not only to learn, but to enjoy.
  12. If you ask them, people who share will kindly change their settings, so others can tag them.
  13. If you put three expert™ Wikipedia editors together in a room you will get at least four interpretations of the Conflict of Interest policy.
  14. Twitter still rocks. Its so ubiquitous (to us) that we forget that; and that some people still don’t get it.
  15. There are — contrary to popular perception — people working in Government who are keen to and do, make the images they produce available under open licences, so that others may reuse them. OpenAttribute may be useful to them.
  16. I want a Scottevest!
  17. People like having the #ukgc12 bookmarks curated on Pinboard.
  18. People recently turned, or thinking of becoming, freelance need more advice and help, and perhaps a support network.
  19. If our wonderful organisers Dave Briggs and Steph Gray are “the Lennon and McCartney of gov digital people”, who is going to be The Frog Chorus?
  20. Beer tastes even better when it’s free. Thank you, kind sponsors.

See you there next year!

The 9th and 10th QR Code commandents

My friend Terence Eden has written a great blog post including The Ten Commandments of using QR Codes, and cleverly (or lazily!) supplied eight of those commandments, inviting his readers to supply the final two. Mine would be:

9. Your QR code shall be displayed in clever places

We’re becoming used to seeing QR codes in print advertising, and on posters, but there are many other places they can be used, and not only the quirky ones like my neat QR Code cufflinks by .

For example, every public building, private office or shop should have a QR Code by their entrance, so that it is prominently seen when the building is closed. It should take the customer to a page with opening times, contact details (see below), further information and perhaps an on-line store.

Bus or tram stops should have QR Codes linking to (mobile-friendly, as per Terence’s third commandment) timetable and fare information. And why not directions for people who’ve just alighted, such as directions to local tourist attractions or the nearest shops?

There are dozens of other paces QR codes can be displayed: on pay-to-park machines; on vehicles; on lamp-posts (but only if you’re the owning authority; no fly-posting, please!); on beer-mats; on envelopes; on bookmarks; and even on cakes. Mmmmm, cake…

QR code cake

10. Your QR code shall lead to downloadable contact details

If you’re going to put QR Codes linking to your website on business cards or brochures, make sure the page you link to either has, or links to a page which has, a downloadable file. You can do this by marking up your contact details with the , and linking to a third-party conversion site, as I do on my contact page. If your customer is using a mobile device the last thing they want to have to do is tiresomely copy’n’paste, or retype, your contact details, when that device is capable of doing the job for them.

Making best use of QR Codes and microformats are among the services in the portfolio I’m offering as part of my new freelance career. How can I help you to use them?