Hard News by Russell Brown


Leaving the bunker

The e-government unit at the State Services Commission has been determined over the past few years to get to grips with the internet and social media and respond appropriately. Given that this usually involves exposing process and/or leaving the bunker, it's not without risks --and is all the more laudable for that.

The latest development is an actual e.govt blog, which has distinguished itself with a strikingly useful piece of content: its own staff contribution guidelines, which is published under a Creative Commons licence. The idea is that other state agencies and NGOs can adopt and adapt it for themselves.

I suspect the guidelines will also be worth a look for private companies considering going social. I touched on the "what should my company do about blogging?" question in two presentations I gave last week. It's somewhere that businesspeople appreciate guidance that goes beyond "Rule One: Don't be a doofus".(Although I should note that that rule is, and will always be, the veritable lodestone of all corporate blogging guidelines.)

Meanwhile, Colin Espiner blogs John Key's promise to hold public service staff numbers. On one hand, I suspect Key is right, and that there are indeed instances of bloat, empty strategising and Wellington log-rolling to be found. On the other, National's use of the perjorative epithet "bureaucrat" for anyone who's not a nurse, teacher or cop is fatuous and offensive.

Key seemed to be trying to use the b-word in every sentence when he talked to Havoc yesterday. As Victoria University's Bill Ryan pointed out in an interesting interview on bFM later in the day, Key also referred to "navel-gazers" and "paper-shufflers". Like Ryan, I'm not averse to scrutiny, especially of favoured ministries. I'd just prefer it to be conducted in grown-up language.

No Right Turn, Stephen Judd and Deborah have joined the trans-Tasman blog swarm over the appalling racism shown by an Alice Springs hotel, which evicted a group of aboriginal women and children on the grounds that they were "not suitable" to stay there, on account of being aboriginal. Me too.

Cam Pitches of the Campaign for Better Transport, which won the support of regional councillors this week for a rail extension to Auckland Airport, popped in to discuss Whaleoil's abusive post about him. What followed was a classic episode of pants-pooing and toy-throwing from the host. If that's not your thing, you might prefer to just proceed to the campaign's website.

I'm mindful of both the usefulness and the huge cost of Sydney's airport rail link, but we're talking about a very different project here. Thanks to the CBG's advocacy, the Onehunga branch line is already being refurbished and reopens next year and it's a (relatively) short stretch from there to the airport. Most of the talk about it seems to have been in terms of passenger traffic, but I would think the case for freight is at least as compelling. And anything that would get other vehicles off the southwestern motorway between 4.30 and 7pm would certainly be welcomed by frequent flyers and visitors alike.

Brilliant comment on Harry Hutton's blog regarding Joseph Stiglitz's costing of the Iraq war at US$3,000,000,000,000:

It a cruel and callous thing to think of the cost this heinous war in terms of dollars.

I mean, if you think of it in pounds or euros it doesn’t look nearly half as bad.

And, because it's Friday, a mash-up of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' that actually rivals the Nirvana-Destiny's Child classic 'Teen Booty': Party Ben's Daft Punk vs Nirvana, 'Smells Stronger'.

And my favourite cartoon of the year:

Duty Calls

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