Tom Burton: time for a radical view of government


borges-world-map

Large internet platforms are challenging governments to radically rethink their core role and organisational structure.

The internet is now rapidly moving into its third and possibly most radical phase, where we are seeing massive platforms emerge, define and drive the architecture and strategic direction of the digital revolution.

Examples include Amazon’s ginormous server farm which powers many of the world’s biggest sites, Google search platform which sorts and navigates the web and Facebook which hosts the world’s biggest community.

Simplistically the first phase of the Internet, was basic web publishing. The second was what many call Web 2.0, smarter interactive applications, most notably social media. The third phase is the arrival of large scale digital systems. These platforms are profoundly changing the very heart of our economies and societies. 

At last week’s ANZSOG — Australia and New Zealand School of Government — conference, Boston Consulting Group’s Managing Director, Philip Evans, painted out the implications of this new stacked architecture of the web.

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  • Mark Duffett

    The BoM example strikes me as a poor one. Organisations like the US NOAA are never going to do the fine scale modelling that drives improved local forecasting – and if you have the code and expertise to do fine scale modelling, might as well extend it to do the regional stuff as well.

  • simon fj

    Tom,
    Can I pull you up on one basic misconception. You say “Simplistically the first phase of the Internet, was basic web publishing”. You just jumble “the internet” and “the web”. It’s so simplistic, and so common, a mistake to interchange the terms that we end up with meaningless talk. http://www.computerhistory.org/revolution/networking/19/314

    The first “main” use of internet (IP) technology was to transport voice across the telcos’ networks, using packets rather than individual circuits for each call. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circuit_switching

    Yes we can say that the web, as a broad comparison, has moved from brochureware to interactive media. So far as the average joe is concerned, the internet doesn’t get looked at. They don’t look under the bonnet. All they understand is that “we’re all connected”, which we are definitely not. We just use the web, as a useful app, to look inside lots of (IP) networks.

    Not raving here. Good article. But we don’t seem to get any perspective from the (agency’s/departmental) network manager’s perspective. This ain’t politics. It’s about (network) engineering. It’s also about a citizen’s ID and account (including storage), and how it may be used, by a citizen, to access and keep their stuff from a bunch of networks, run by three tiers of gov.

    With all the talk about “user-centric” we never seem to get the point where govs.au can think from a Google user’s perspective. Realme.nz seem to get it. And Colin does say “agencies have to begin … to see themselves as a system of services”. Perhaps we could change the language to “agencies must see themselves as a Citizen-centric network of networks”.