Episode Two Hundred and Two: The Humane Calendar; Government 3.0; Digital Public Space 

by danhon

0.0 Sitrep

9:32pm on Thursday, 5 March 2015. No episode yesterday – no time to write and, bluntly: I was just very tired at the end of a long day that ended late.

1.0 The Humane Calendar

“It looks like you have eight back-to-back hour long meetings today. Would you like help to improve your work-life balance?” is something that no office assistant anywhere in any electronic calendaring system has ever asked me, and yet I still do it, every single time. I did it again today: back-to-back meetings from 9am through to 6pm, only this time around I’m smart enough to set a recurring one for 60 minutes of “lunch”. I still maintain that something like Google Calendar is only a “less shit Exchange” in that it’s a) less expensive, b) supports professional/business calendaring and c) talks Exchange. It’s not like it’s an objectively good calendaring system or, in the language of Silicon Valley, “fundamentally rethinks the calendar from the ground up”, which I guess is what Sunrise was trying to do and stuff like Donna but Sunrise at least, when I tried it, just still felt… well, calendar-y: ie it does calendaring things.

Things a humane calendar would do:

– not stuff like remind me to drink water, or stand up, or stretch
– not let me, or other people, book back-to-back meetings
– limit the amount of time that I spend in “meetings” with other people
– track how I’m spending my time by magical text and network analysis
– be smart about knowing how many browser windows it’s open in and not popping up a model alert in *every* *single* *open* *tab* *of* *google* *calendar* *across* *each* *computer* Jesus Christ do you know how annoying that is, Google
– make it easier to have no/fewer-interruption days

So, you know. Someone please make that and I will totally buy your app for nearly $10.

2. Government 3.0

Everything that you need Government to do for you, available wherever you go. That’s Government: simpler, clearer and faster.

Government 3.0 is a major new release that we have been working on for a while, and we’re super proud to bring it to you. Government is now built using a user-centered, data-driven, iterative approach that means you should be seeing regular improvements to all the services offered by Government. You can get updates for Government automatically by going to your Settings and turning on Updates.

New in this release of Government:

– All Government services can now be accessed online, from replacing your driving licence to
– Starting a family is now a Government supported activity in all areas where Government is used. Tab over to the “Family” section to find out
– Healthcare is now a free service available to all Government users
– Your internet service provider can’t interfere with your internet connection
– You can now set your Privacy Settings and let Government know how much information it should collect about you. We also have rewritten our Privacy Policy to be clearer

Fixes in this release of Government:

– Fixes a compatibility issue with Patriarchy where female users could not properly interact with Government or Society
– Fixes an issue where Government would become unstable over time when used with Capitalism 2.0
– Fixes an issue where corporations were being incorrectly treated as people
– Fixes an issue where some users were invisible to Government
– Fixes an issue where Government was incompatible with Uber and other ride-sharing apps in some areas
– Fixes an issue where some female users were unexpectedly finding Government in their reproductive systems. Female users should now not find Government in their reproductive systems
– Fixes an issue where in some areas Government would shut down unexpectedly
– Fixes an issue where the delivery of Government services was dependent upon a user’s skin color

3.0 Digital Public Space

Only some brief thoughts about what’s been happening in the UK with the latest interminable conversation about what the BBC is, what it should do about the internet, and whether we can reasonably expect it to be able to do the things we think it ought to be able to do to properly take advantage of digital, mainly because it’s late, and also because anyone who’s lived in the UK since the late 1990s and been interested in a) the BBC (and proud of it), and b) the internet (and what the potential it has) has already had this conversation a gazillion times.

Suffice to say: Tony Hall is doubling down[1] on the BBC being a broadcaster and delivering broadcast programming. Not in a linear way, sure, but finding better ways to deliver broadcast programming. The BBC that he envisages is one that still, by a clear and unassailable margin, is focussed on television and radio programming. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: the BBC is good at it.

But at the same time, the UK also deserves a digital public space[2] of the vein envisaged by Tony Ageh. The only problem is is that whilst there’s a great argument that the BBC should be the vehicle for this and such a vision for a digital public space is the best articulation yet as to why and how the BBC could justify the renewal of the licence fee (and if you’re not persuaded, Ageh’s recent speech pretty much delivers a solid argument to that end[3]), it’s not clear that the BBC’s current leadership in Hall is either politically up to the task or competent in driving such a change. It is not as if the government is going to ask Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho what she thinks we should do with such a national cultural institution and get another stonking letter out of her that results in either kicking the BBC into gear (and thus making it clear that no, making great telly and radio isn’t *all* the BBC is doing anymore), or allows us to finally move on and accept that what the BBC is going to do, and remain doing for the foreseeable future, is *just* make great telly and radio (and news, I suppose), and we can all just deal with the fact that someone else is going to have to do the job. Or we just won’t get that valuable public space.

(And yes – you have to read Ageh’s speech to understand what he really means by ‘digital public space’ – it’s potentially a misnomer and at worst distracting, but I wouldn’t know what else to call it: it means that it’s hard to understand that of course a “digital public space” isn’t a ghettoised Britannia flag-waving area of the internet, but instead a defined area that has great ways of interacting with and enriching the rest of the internet, and all of our lives. Of course there’s tremendous cultural value being built up all over the internet right now. A lot of it has unfortunately already been destroyed and lost, never to be brought back. We don’t have to make that mistake again.

[1] Tony Hall’s vision for the BBC – six things we learned | Media | The Guardian
[2] A digital public space is Britain’s missing national institution | Technology | The Guardian
[3] The BBC, the licence fee and the digital public space | openDemocracy

10:41pm and I’m grumpy now. See? Grumpy.