Friday, July 04, 2008


WHEN: The competition will close at the end of September and the winner will be announced in the second week of October.

WHAT: From their site. This is a competition about information, about communication and above all about making government information more useful.

The government produces masses of information on what is happening around the UK. Infomation on crime, on health, on education. However, this information is often hidden away in obscure publications or odd corners of websites. Data tucked away like this isn't of use to the ultimate owner of that information YOU.

The Power of Information Taskforce want to hear your ideas on how to reuse, represent, mashup or combine the information the government holds to make it useful.The next best thing is to point you at the explanation in the Guardian, where I found it first.
WHAT... MORE?: Check the site.
HOW MUCH: Looks free. With a £20k prize!
COMMENTS: If you have some use for data, and the measn to put it to good use, as does, might be worth a punt! Mind you, this story - launches data mash-up competition - from the Register, spins it another way.

Addendum: Had a quick scope and have a few first thought:


However, I am a little concerned about IP/idea protection.

Yes there is the potential of a £20k prize, but if it's a goodie then surely the idea will be worth/generate a lot more?

The FAQ on the site clearly outlines the first, and most major danger in this regard, namely (and unlike a patent or trademark) an 'idea' a lot trickier to protect.

It's one thing to be viewed by a limited number of judges (though in the case of some gov/quango efforts I have been part of, possibly even worse), but here your concept is laid out raw and ready to rip.

And I'm hard pressed to think how many decent notions involving the use and/or manipulation of data won't be essentially web-based ideas and rather open to... 'homage'.

The trick would seem to be to tempt in the submission enough to generate a bite, but without giving away too much.

'It must be good; we spent millions on it'

I am grateful to Dave of Solarventi for this link to one the greater 'Well, d'uh's' of the year:

Government ads for climate change need a new approach

And just how much has been blown on massive green-related comms efforts to date, until just now coming to the realisation that 'The 3 'E's' (entertainment, engagement and end-benefit) are more likely to work than nanny, nag, guilt, fine or fear?

Any nitwit can do a 'we're all doomed/look how awful things are' ad and stick a 'well don't do it' finger wag and URL in the final 5 seconds to log a box tick for 'awareness'.

To effect change, the tricky bit is actually motivating folk to turn from screen and act differently... whilst not minding at all. That ain't so easy, and takes a bit of thought... but it can be done.

As almost no one currently blowing vast budgets trying seems to have managed, maybe we need new bloods commissioning, creating and approving beyond the current crop of unaccountable Gov depts, open-chequebook quangos and their generous SoHo post-strategy dining hosts... and production/media budget beneficiaries (with doubtless some truly spectacular offsetting at work here as well come invoicing time)?

Just one teensy-weensy question ......

.... are all the prospective guests traveling there by sailboat?

I can't help asking this. Starting eco-friendly holiday resorts seems to be becoming all the rage at the moment, as this from the Sydney Morning Herald exemplifies. It just seems rather incongruous that the only way of reaching Branson's proposed resort on Mosquito Island will be to fly there.

Perhaps they will only be using Virgin aircraft powered solely on bio-fuel?