Monday, October 25, 2010

"Shiny app syndrome" and Gov 2.0 - O'Reilly Radar

This was sent to me by a coworker--the entire article is really great but the person interviewed in this video makes some excellent points about the dangers of requiring specific devices to access services. This is bad from the standpoint of freedom and technology in general, vendor lock-in, etc., but is absolutely horrible when it comes to government services.

Unless they're developed by a third party completely independent of any particular government agency, citizens fund the development of the applications that make the promise of letting them interact more directly and more effectively with their government. By limiting access to a specific device, it's like simultaneously spitting in the face of the citizens that fund the development and handling Apple a check.

With the decreasing cost and increasing availability of technology the digital divide was supposed to get smaller, not bigger, but by requiring citizens to buy one of the most expensive phones on the market and sign up for an expensive data plan through one specific wireless carrier, we're making it far, far worse and the conspiracy theorist in me has to wonder if something nefarious is going on behind the scenes.

Thankfully there's a simple solution to this problem. First, follow the "just give us the data" mantra of Gov2.0 advocates, and second, build apps with standards that don't lock people into any one device. There is absolutely no reason any publicly developed application should only be available on one particular device, and if there aren't any rules in government that mandate cross-device compatibility as a requirement, there should be.

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