Government

By Mike Gifford on 11/06/2013
Buckminster Fuller was a real visionary, but he died in 1983 and the backbone of the Internet TCP/IP was only standardized in 1982, so it would be hard to imagine how he would have been able foresee either the World Wide Web, let alone the re-thinking of intellectual property that has come about with the growth of Free Software (or Open Source Software). He definitely thought out of the box as he strove to "make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation."
One of his main critiques of our economic system was that capitalism forces value...
on 31/05/2013
As the newest member of the Open Concept team, I wasted no time trying to learn as much as I could about various initiatives using Drupal as its main platform. This mainly entailed watching numerous videos from DrupalCon, starting with Ottawa’s own DrupalCamp in March (organized in part by Open Concept), and now I’m slowly getting through all the new material coming out of DrupalCon Portland.
 
Although some of the code-heavy videos targeted towards developers tend to elude me, I do find myself interested in the ones discussing open government. This probably has to do with my background in...
By Mike Gifford on 13/02/2013
Ontario government home page

We were happy to see that at the end of 2012, the main website for the Government of Ontario(GoO) moved to Drupal 7.  Their new site demonstrates that it is possible to have a visually interesting site that meets the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act(AODA).  Many folks reading this blog post will know that the AODA requires a wide range of organizations within Ontario to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 AA). WCAG is an International standard organized by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), they are responsible for a number of standards for the Internet...
By Mike Gifford on 11/06/2012
Following our work on analyzing federal sites with Ben Balter's Site Investor script, we surveyed over 111 Ontario Government domains using this tool and found some more interesting findings. The Government of Ontario isn't as large as the Federal government, but it is the most comparable level of government in Canada and also is the province where OpenConcept is based. Our collective tax dollars have paid for these sites and I believe that they need to be built to be accessible to its citizens. Because Ontario doesn't yet have an Open Data portal, where I could simply download a list of...
By Mike Gifford on 30/05/2012
I ran into Ben Balter's article Analysis of Federal Executive .Govs and really liked the simple but effective analysis that he did on the US government. Not that the technology behind it is simple, his Site Inspector and WordPress Domain Inventory plugin module are great. It does a pretty good job at tracking the site status, support for non-WWW and IPv6, use of Content Delivery Network (CDN), choice of Content Management System, Cloud Provider, Analytics, JavaScript Libraries, and HTTPs support. I do hope that I have some time to add some enhancements to this project, but first I was...
By Mike Gifford on 13/05/2012
We were happy to have supported 10 Years from GOSLING to GOOSE event earlier this month. We've been coming on/off for a long while now and have always found the conversations encouraging.  It's been a long, long struggle to get the right individuals in government thinking about how the public sector values of participation, cooperation & standards can be reflected in software.
Government has evolved a risk averse culture and so it is much easier to adopt new ideas when others inside government have tried (and succeeded), than to feel like you are breaking new ground. Having a network of...
By Mike Gifford on 30/03/2011
I've actively encouraged NGOs to use Google Docs for real-time collaborative editing. They have a really great suite of tools which really should make emailing Word Documents between editors a thing of the past.  There have been a limited number of tools that allowed for this type of process, however we've been experimenting with a great open source tool called Etherpad which will make this process much more common, especially within government agencies. 
We've been using this interface at iEtherpad now and have been quite impressed by it's ease of use.  It's simpler than Google Docs, but has...
By Mike Gifford on 01/04/2010
This is a reprint of the post I wrote for GovFresh. It's mostly a re-write of the earlier blog post I wrote specifically for the Canadian government.
Most western governments have in the last decade developed an accessibility strategy for their websites, often based on WCAG 1.0. At the end of 2008, the WC3 announced the final version of WCAG 2.0 and the public sector is now struggling to keep up. In Canada there was a recent announcement about a revised Common Look and Feel (CLF). In the USA the Section 508 is in its first of six revisions, part of which will be to adapt to the new approach...
By Mike Gifford on 22/03/2010
Very recently Canada's Treasury Board announced that the Common Look and Feel (CLF) for the Internet 2.0 Standard is being updated. Now, for those folks who don't spend a lot of time on Government of Canada websites it's not something that you are likely to notice. However for both people with disabilities & the Canadian tax payer at large it could be a very big deal.
Improved Design
I want to first point out some of the good work done rethinking the CLF. Thomas Bradley's Proposal for CLF3.0 predated the public announcement for the update and presents a neat vision. More recently...

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