Comment: Livia Labate (Dec 1, 2005)
The other day I saw a presentation from the person responsible for firstgov.gov. The presentation was about the future of the Internet and I came in very suspecious about what the "government" had to say "officially" about this topic.
I was absolutely and most positively impressed and overwhelmed with predictions of what the Web will be like in 5-10 years, and more so with firstgov.gov's plans to design and coordinate governemnt websites to serve the public through good design.
They even presented a prototype of what a public service portal trully tailored to the public would be like. Hopefuly this will gain more attention soon.
So, don't lose hope Lou ;)
Comment: helge (Dec 1, 2005)
excuse my biased european perspective but quality of life doesn't seem to be on the agenda of US governments while it's the main issue for most european administrations.
Comment: Lou (Dec 1, 2005)
Livia, I'm not too hopeful. I realize that at least some people inside government agencies are trying their best to make headway. Although I've seen firsthand what a difficult, thankless task this is.
But I really believe that there needs to be at least some senior-level support. And that the first political party to figure this out is going to make some hay.
Comment: Nico Macdonald (Dec 5, 2005)
Not everyone thinks that government manipulation of design is an unalloyed good to be taken at face value. Note some of the commentators in my articleon design and social policy.
Better by Design (http://www.rsa.org.uk/journal/article.asp?articleID=575 ), Nico Macdonald, RSA Journal, August 2005, Volume CLII, No 5518, pp26-31. Design used to be associated purely with aesthetics. Today it has been embraced by business leaders and is advocated for social policy development. Nico Macdonald investigates these claims. [Documented, with Acrobat facsimile of the article, on my journal including facility for responding (http://www.spy.co.uk/Articles/RSA_Journal/FutureDesign/ ).]
Comment: Sally (Dec 10, 2005)
Great ideas. So what office are YOU going to run for:)?
Comment: Paul Nattress (Dec 13, 2005)
I'm from the North East of England (where this scheme is being started) and the fundamental problem is that this area of the country is badly in need of development in industry.
Traditionally, the North East of England (Newcastle upon Tyne and Northumberland) are coal mining regions. When the mines closed, a lot of jobs were lost. Also, Tyneside was a great shipbuilding region and this industry is suffering.
Rather than fund a resurrection of industry here, the government instead is pouring money into the arts. We now have the Sage Gateshead (a world class music centre) and the Baltic Art Centre situated in Gateshead (the town that border Newcastle on the south of the River Tyne). Gateshead is a deprived neighbourhood, badly in need of good housing and jobs - not international arts and music centres.
Let's hope that the people of the North East (known as "Geordies") will vote for jobs and better neighbourhoods, not designer buildings, arts centres, or anything that does little for the people living in the poor parts of the region.
Comment: Andrea Gallagher (Dec 14, 2005)
Nico is FAR better placed to comment on the UK design efforts, but I do have perspective as an American formerly living in London.
The *average* experience quality of places and services in the UK is lower than in the US. Many of the small and gradual experience improvements we see implemented company by company in the US just haven't made it to the UK yet.
Basically, I bet that the US economy as a whole spends more on experience design than the UK economy, it's just spent by the private sector in a way we can't measure.
Comment: Lou (Dec 14, 2005)
Drea, that may be the case, but there is something to be said for a national government taking an active role in improving design for its citizens. It can't all come from the private sector, because we don't interact exclusively with the private sector.
Sometimes this stuff comes up in the most banal settings. For example, consider how much better life becomes for urban commuters when the various mass transit and toll agencies standardize on a single method of payment. That's design, and it's design that requires some level of enlightenment and participation from government.
Comment spam has forced me to close comment functionality for older entries. However, if you have something vital to add concerning this entry (or its associated comments), please email your sage insights to me (lou [at] louisrosenfeld dot com). I'll make sure your comments are added to the conversation. Sorry for the inconvenience.