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Saturday, June 13

Gongs, Sir TBL and speeding up freeing up the data

LONDON - FEBRUARY 12:  Queen Elizabeth II meet...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The gongs have been handed out for the Queen's Birthday and, scanning through, I couldn't see one for a webbie or a tekkie. This seemed particularly odd looking at the ones locally for Cambridge - home of the 'Silicon Fen' - and the business related ones didn't include any webbies or tekkies, neither did the academic ones.

So I was wondering about all that in the context of the announcement that one webbie who actually has a gong, Sir Tim Berners Lee (TBL), was appointed to drive the freeing up of government data in the wake of Gordon Brown's near-demise, a week which also saw a large number of the unelected enter his cabinet and him appoint Sir Alan Sugar, of TV fame, to a government post.

So the first thing which struck me was 'this is another celebrity appointment'. Then it struck me that at least TBL is a webbie who is part of the establishment. Then it also struck me that with the exit of Minister Tom Watson, who is also a webbie, perhaps we do need someone with establishment clout to knock heads together at the top table.

What we don't know if whether TBL will have the skills to be effective. To actually be able to move Whitehall and the rest of government.

But the consensus from those close in is that - chaneling Princess Leia - he's our best hope.

Simon Dickson:
But what he will be able to do is intimidate persuade those people who always seem to block the initiatives which have already gone before. He may have more success saying the exact same things many of us have already been saying for some time, because of who he is.
Emma Mulqueeny:
It just makes sense – and the fact that data sets are in such a muddle in most organisations where I work, is almost testament in itself that nothing organised will come out of such chaos without serious intervention and dedication.
However Rory Cellan-Jones asked TBL himself and came away unconvinced:
But will the cry "raw data now" resound through the civil service, with Sir Tim leading a chanting crowd of bureaucrats through Whitehall? "We'll see - listen carefully!" was the web creator's advice. But I fear he may be in for a bruising few months, as he tries to convince Sir Humphrey et al to let it all hang out.
I can think of a few other people with no media profile whatsoever who would know how to do that - Tom Steinberg seems to know his political shit-stirring stuff - and with the loss of Tom Watson it's going to be seriously needed.

I won't judge Sir TBL until he's done something - but it did come off as another of GBrown's headline-lead, showbizisation bad ideas like Sir Alan.


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