Wednesday, 26 May 2010

UK government Con-Dem-Nation of Web Science

it has been decided to go for quick and easy cuts, the civil servants are keen to please neir new masters, and the new masters (for it is such, there are so few women) are much minded to make propoganda gains at every opportunity

how does it go

first we have a treasury announcement that there will be a "cut of £18 million by stopping low priority projects like the Semantic web ",
At this stage you have to admire their ambition, in thinking that they can cut the semantic web, but hey, that's another story...

some time later the same day, the announcemnt is modified to read

£18 million including funding for the Institute of Web Science, a proposal which is still under development, and low priority projects like the SME Adjudicator.

Sir Tim and Professor Nigel make an announcement (see footnote for full text)
Yesterday, as part of its £6 billion spending cuts, the new Government announced that it was unable to offer funding to the proposed Institute for Web Science.

Now either this had been the result of some hard bargaining from the lib part of the condemnation team, or maybe the zealous civil servants were not apprised of the benefits of such initiatives which only a few weeks early the Tories had trumpeted in their technology manifesto, where linked data was seen as a key to cutting wasteful spending, and creating additional wealth

in particular

our plans to open up government data and spending information will .. help us to cut wasteful spending, ... it will also create an estimated £6 billion in additional value for the UK

this was surely then a rash cut? don't we think?

the words mysterious and ways leap to mind....

Footnote the following statement on the cut of proposed funding for the Institute for Web Science

The Institute for Web Science: Statement by Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee & Professor Nigel Shadbolt

Issued 17.30, Tuesday 25 May 2010

Yesterday, as part of its £6 billion spending cuts, the new Government announced that it was unable to offer funding to the proposed Institute for Web Science.

The following statement has been issued by Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton:


"We are obviously disappointed at the announcement. However, we do understand that immediate decisions had to be made about what not to start, pending a wider review of priorities in the Spending Review.

Today, the web site of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills notes that the Institute for Web Science remains a proposal still under development.

Naturally, many people have been asking what this means for Web Science and we wanted to provide an assurance that the future remains bright.[1]

Many people have also been asking about the future of the open linked data initiative in the UK after the change of government.

It is clear from the new government's Big Society declaration [2], the Coalition Partnership [3] and speeches such as David Cameron's to TED [4] before the election that open government data is a high priority. Our understanding is that the portal will in fact grow significantly in the months to come.

Linked data and the new technologies supporting it will, in the near future, enable better public services to be delivered for less, and promote new business opportunities.

The government is maintaining its commitment to the linked data it has already published and to the very large amount which remains to be published.

Recall that the process of opening up UK government data is really in its early stages, and while much has been accomplished there is very much more yet to be done.

Also remember that this work, while essential for the UK’s good governance, prosperity and competitiveness as a place to do business, is part of a wider global movement.

The UK over the last 12 months has played a leading role in this movement. Recently we have seen a re-launch of the USA's portal, [5], with a large easily accessed trove [6] of linked open data from US government, and many applications.

There is more being added to all the time, whether it is the NaPTAN data, a GB national system for uniquely identifying all the points of access to public transport, or the eagerly anticipated COINS database detailing Treasury spending [7].

As we enter a phase of cutting back on many things, the linked open data movement is a crucial tool, for government, public and industry to get the most value from the important resources being opened up. During times of austerity, transparency is essential, and open data will play a crucial role."

Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt








Posted by Joyce Lewis on 25 May 2010.

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