Tag Archives: accountability

Using BHAG's to Change Organizations: A Management, Open Data & Government Mashup

I’m a big believer in the ancillary benefits of a single big goal. Set a goal that has one clear objective, but as a result a bunch of other things have to change as well.

So one of my favourite Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) for an organization is to go paperless. I like the goal for all sorts of reasons. Much like a true BHAG it is is clear, compelling, and has obvious “finish line.” And while hard, it is achievable.

It has the benefit of potentially making the organization more “green” but, what I really like about it is that it requires a bunch of other steps to take place that should position the organization to become more efficient, effective and faster.

This is because paper is dumb technology. Among many, many other things, information on paper can’t be tracked, changes can’t be noted, pageviews can’t be recorded, data can’t be linked. It is hard to run a lean business when you’re using paper.

Getting rid of it often means you have get a better handle on workflow and processes so they can be streamlined. It means rethinking the tools you use. It means getting rid of checks and into direct deposit, moving off letters and into email, getting your documents, agendas, meeting minutes, policies and god knows what else out of MS Word and onto wikis, shifting from printed product manuals to PDFs or better still, YouTube videos. These changes in turn require a rethinking of how your employees work together and the skills they require.

So what starts off as a simple goal – getting rid of paper – pretty soon requires some deep organizational change. Of course, the rallying cry of “more efficient processes!” or “better understanding our workflow” have pretty limited appeal and, can be hard for everyone to wrap their head around. However, “getting rid of paper”? It is simple, clear and, frankly, is something that everyone in the organization can probably contribute an idea towards achieving. And, it will achieve many of the less sexy but more important goals.

Turns out, maybe some governments may be thinking this way.

The State of Oklahoma has a nice website that talks about all their “green” initiatives. Of course, it just so happens that many of these initiatives – reducing travel, getting rid of paper, etc… also happen to reduce costs and improve service but are easier to measure. I haven’t spoken with anyone at the State of Oklahoma to see if this is the real goal, but the website seems to acknowledges that it is:

OK.gov was created to improve access to government, reduce service-processing costs and enable state agencies to provide a higher quality of service to their constituents.

So for Oklahoma, going paperless becomes a way to get at some larger transformations. Nice BHAG. Of course, as with any good BHAG, you can track these changes and share them with your shareholders, stakeholders or… citizens.

And behold! The Oklahoma go green website invites different state agencies to report data on how their online services reduce paper consumption and/or carbon emissions. Data that they in turn track and share with the public via the state’s Socrata data portal. This graph shows how much agencies have reduced their paper output over the past four years.

Notice how some departments have no data – if I were an Oklahoma taxpayer, I’m not too sure I’d be thrilled with them.But take a step back. This is a wonderful example of how transparency and open data can help drive a government initiative. Not only can that data make it easier for the public to understand what has happened (and so be more readily engaged) but it can help cultivating a culture of accountability as well as – and perhaps more importantly – promote a culture of metrics that I believe will be critical for the future of government.

I often say to governments “be strategic about how you use some of the data you make open.” Don’t just share a bunch of stuff, use what you share to achieve policy or organizational objectives. This is a great example. It’s also a potentially a great example at organizational change in a large and complex environment. Interesting stuff.

 

 

As Canada Searches for its Open Government Partnership Commitments: A Proposal

Just before its launch in New York on September 20th, the Canadian Government agreed to be a signatory of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Composed of over 40 countries the OGP signatories are required to create a list of commitments they promise to implement. Because Canada signed on just before the deadline it has not – to date – submitted its commitments. As a result, there is a fantastic window for the government to do something interesting with this opportunity.

So what should we do? Here are the top 5 suggestions I propose for Canada’s OGP Commitments:

Brief Background on Criteria:

Before diving in, it is worth letting readers know that there are some criteria for making commitments. Specifically, any commitment must tackle at least one of the five “core” challenges: improve public services, increase public integrity, more effectively manage public resources, create safer communities, and increase corporate accountability.

In addition, each recommendation should reflect at least one of the core OGP principles, which are: transparency, citizen participation, accountability, and technology and innovation.

The Top Ten

Having reviewed several other countries commitments and being familiar with both what Canada has already done and what it could do, attached are 10 commitments I would like to see our government make to the OGP.

1. Be open about developing the commitments

Obviously there are a number of commitments the government is going to make since they are actions or programs that government was going to launch anyways. In addition, there will be some that will be new ideas that public servants or politicians have been looking for an opportunity to champion and now have an excuse. This is all fine and part of the traditional way government works.

But wouldn’t it be nice if – as part of the open government partnership – we asked citizens what they thought the commitments should be? That would make the process nicely consistent with the principles and goals of the OGP.

Thus the government should launch a two week crowd sourced idea generator, much like it did during the Digital Economy consultations. This is not suggestion that the ideas submitted must become part of the commitments, but they should inform the choices. This would be a wonderful opportunity to hear what Canadians have to say. In addition, the government could add some of its own proposal into the mix and see what type of response they get from Canadians.

2. Redefine Public as Digital: Pass an Online Information Act

At this year’s open government data camp in Warsaw, the always excellent Tom Steinberg noted that creating a transparent government and putting in place the information foundations of a digital economy will be impossible unless access to government data is not a gift from government (that can be taken away) but a right every citizen has. At the same time Andrew Rasiej of Tech President advocated that we must redefine public as digital. A paper print out in a small office in the middle of nowhere, does not make for  “public disclosure” in the 21st century. It’s bad for democracy, it’s bad for transparency, and it is grossly inefficient for government.

Thus, the government should agree to pass a Online Information Act, perhaps modeled on that proposed in the US Senate, that

a) Any document it produces should be available digitally, in a machine readable format. The sham that the government can produce 3000-10,000 printed pages about Afghan detainees or the F-35 and claim it is publicly disclosing information must end.

b) Any data collected for legislative reasons must be made available – in machine readable formats – via a government open data portal.

c) Any information that is ATIPable must be made available in a digital format. And that any excess costs of generating that information can be born by the requester, up until a certain date (say 2015) at which point the excess costs will be born by the ministry responsible. There is no reason why, in a digital world, there should be any cost to extracting information – indeed, I fear a world where the government can’t cheaply locate and copy its own information for an ATIP request as it would suggest it can’t get that information for its own operations.

3. Sign the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

As a leader in the field of resource extraction it is critical that Canada push for the highest standards in a sector that all too often sees money that should be destined for the public good get diverted into the hands of a few well connected individuals. Canada’s reputation internationally has suffered as our extractive resource sector is seen as engaging in a number of problematic practices such as bribing public officials – this runs counter to the Prime Minister’s efforts to promote democracy.

As a result, Canada should sign, with out delay, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, much like the United States did in September. This can help signal our desire for a transparent extractive industry, one in which we play a significant role.

4. Sign on to the International Aid Transparency Initiative

Canada has already taken significant steps to publishing its aid data online, in machine readable formats. This should be applauded. The next step is to do so in a way that conforms with international standards so that this data can be assessed against the work of other donors.

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) offers an opportunity to increase transparency in foreign aid, better enable the public to understand its aid budget, compare the country’s effectiveness against others and identify duplication (and thus poorly used resources) among donors. Canada should agree to implement IATI immediately. In addition, it should request that the organizations it funds also disclose their work in ways that are compliant with IATI.

5. Use Open Data to drive efficiency in Government Services: Require the provinces to share health data – particularly hospital performance – as part of its next funding agreement within the Canada Health Act.

Comparing hospitals to one another is always a difficult task, and open data is not a panacea. However, more data about hospitals is rarely harmful and there are a number of issues on which it would be downright beneficial. The most obvious of these would be deaths caused by infection. The number of deaths that occur due to infections in Canadian hospitals is a growing problem (sigh, if only open data could help ban the antibacterial wipes that are helping propagate them). Having open data that allows for league tables to show the scope and location of the problem will likely cause many hospitals to rethink processes and, I suspect, save lives.

Open data can supply some of the competitive pressure that is often lacking in a public healthcare system. It could also better educate Canadians about their options within that system, as well as make them more aware of its benefits.

6. Reduce Fraud: Find Fraud by Creating a Death List

In an era where online identity is a problem it is surprising to me that I’m unable to locate a database of expired social insurance numbers. Being able to querry a list of social security numbers that belong to dead people might be a simple way to prevent fraud. Interestingly, the United States has just such a list available for free online. (Side fact: Known as the Social Security Death Index this database is also beloved by genealogist who use it to trace ancestry).

7. Save lives by publishing a API of recall data

The only time the public finds out about a product recall is after someone has died. This is a terribly tragic, not to mention grossly inefficient, outcome. Indeed, the current approach is a classic example of using 21st century technology to deliver a service in a 19th century manner. If the government is interested in using the OGP to improve government services it should stop just issuing recall press releases and also create an open data feed of recalled products. I expand on this idea here.

If the government were doubly smart it would work with major retailers – particularly in the food industry – to ensure that they regularly tap into this data. In an ideal world any time Save-on-Foods, Walmart, Safeway, or any other retailers scans product in their inventory it would immediately check it against the recall database, allowing bad food to be pulled out of production before it hits the shelves. In addition, customers who use loyalty cards could be called or emailed to be informed that they had bought a product that had been recalled. This would likely be much more effective than hoping the media picks the story up.

8. Open Budget and Actual Spending Data

For almost a year the UK government has published all spending data, month by month, for each government ministry (down to the £500 in some, £25,000 in others). More over, as an increasing number of local governments are required to share their spending data it has lead to savings, as government begin to learn what other ministries and governments are paying for similar services.

Another bonus is that it becomes possible to talk about the budget in new and interesting ways. This BEAUTIFUL graphic was published in the Guardian, while still complicated it is much easier to understand than any government document about the budget I have ever seen.

Public-spending-graphic-0051

9. Allow Government Scientists to speak directly to the media about their research.

It has become a reoccurring embarrassment. Scientists who work for Canada publish an internationally recognized ground break paper that provides some insight about the environment or geography of Canada and journalists must talk to government scientists from other countries in order to get the details. Why? Because the Canadian government blocks access. Canadians have a right to hear the perspectives of scientists their tax dollars paid for – and enjoy the opportunity to get as well informed as the government on these issues.

Thus, lift the ban that blocks government scientists from speaking with the media.

10. Create a steering group of leading Provincial and Municipal CIOs to create common schema for core data about the country.

While open data is good, open data organized the same way for different departments and provinces is even better. When data is organized the same way it makes it easier to citizens to compare one jurisdiction against another, and for software solutions and online services to emerge that use that data to enhance the lives of Canadians. The Federal Government should use its convening authority to bring together some of the countries leading government CIOs to establish common data schemas for things like crime, healthcare, procurement, and budget data. The list of what could be worked on is virtually endless, but those four areas all represent data sets that are frequently requested, so might make for a good starting point.

Shared IT Services across the Canadian Government – three opportunities

Earlier this week the Canadian Federal Government announced it will be creating Shared Services Canada which will absorb the resources and functions associated with the delivery of email, data centres and network services from 44 departments.

These types of shared services projects are always fraught with danger. While they sometimes are successful, they are often disasters. Highly disruptive with little to show for results (and eventually get unwound). However, I suspect there is a significant amount of savings that can be made and I remain optimistic. With luck the analogy here is the work outgoing US CIO Vivek Kundra accomplished as he has sought to close down and consolidate 800 data centres across the US which is yielding some serious savings.

So here’s what I’m hoping Shared Services Canada will mean:

1) A bigger opportunity for Open Source

What I’m still more hopeful about – although not overly optimistic – is the role that open source solutions could play in the solutions Shared Services Canada will implement. Over on the Drupal site, one contributor claims government officials have been told to hold off buying web content management systems as the government prepares to buy a single solution for across all departments.

If the government is serious about lowering its costs it absolutely must rethink its procurement models so that open source solutions can at least be made a viable option. If not this whole exercise will mean the government may save money, but it will be the we move from 5 expensive solutions to one expensive solution variety.

On the upside some of that work has clearly taken place. Already there are several federal government websites running on Drupal such as this Ministry of Public Works website, the NRCAN and DND intranet. Moreover, there are real efforts in the open source community to accommodate government. In the United States OpenPublic has fostered a version of Drupal designed for government’s needs.

Open source solutions have the added bonus of allowing you the option of using more local talent, which, if stimulus is part of the goal, would be wise. Also, any open source solutions fostered by the federal government could be picked up by the provinces, creating further savings to tax payers. As a bonus, you can also fire incompetent implementors, something that needs to happen a little more often in government IT.

2) More accountability

Ministers Ambrose and Clement are laser focused on finding savings – pretty much every ministry needs to find 5 or 10% savings across the board. I also know both speak passionately about managing tax payers dollars: “Canadians work hard for their money and expect our Government to manage taxpayers dollars responsibly, Shared Services Canada will have a mandate to streamline IT, save money, and end waste and duplication.”

Great. I agree. So one of Shared Service Canada’s first act should be to follow in the footsteps of another Vivek Kundra initiative and recreate his incredibly successful IT Dashboard. Indeed it was by using the dashboard Vivek was able to “cut the time in half to deliver meaningful [IT system] functionality and critical services, and reduced total budgeted [Federal government IT] costs by over $3 billion.” Now that some serious savings. It’s a great example of how transparency can drive effective organizational change.

And here’s the kicker. The White House open sourced the IT Dashboard (the code can be downloaded here). So while it will require some work adapting it, the software is there and a lot of the heavy work has been done. Again, if we are serious about this, the path forward is straightforward.

3) More open data

Speaking of transparency… one place shared services could really come in handy is creating some data warehouses for hosting critical government data sets (ideally in the cloud). I suspect there are a number of important datasets that are used by public servants across ministries, and so getting them on a robust platform that is accessible would make a lot of sense. This of course, would also be an ideal opportunity to engage in a massive open data project. It might be easier to create policy for making the data managed by Shared Service Canada “open.” Indeed, this blog post covers some of the reasons why now is the time to think about that issue.

So congratulations on the big move everyone and I hope these suggestions are helpful. Certainly we’ll be watching with interest – we can’t have a 21st century government unless we have 21st century infrastructure, and you’re now the group responsible for it.

The Open Data Debate Arrives in Ottawa

The Liberals are promising to create an open data portal – opendata.gc.ca – much like President Obama has done in the United States and both Gordon Brown and David Cameron have done in the United Kingdom.

It’s a savvy move.

In May 2010 when it launched a public consultation on the Digital Economy, the government invited the public to submit proposals and vote on them. Two of the top three most voted ideas involved asking the government to open up access to government collected data. Three months after the submissions have closed it appears the opposition has decided to act on Canadians wishes and release a 21st century open government strategy that reflects these popular demands.

Today, at 1pm EST, I’ve discovered the Liberals will announce that, if elected, they will adopt a government-wide directive in which “the default position for all departments and agencies will be for the release of information to the public, both proactively and responsively, after privacy and other legal requirements are met.”

There is much that both ordinary citizens and advocates of greater government transparency will like in the proposal. Not only have the Liberals mirrored the most aggressive parts of President Obama’s transparency initiatives they are also promising some specific and aggressive policies of their own. In addition to promising to launching opendata.gc.ca to share government data the document proposes the creation of accesstoinformation.gc.ca where citizens could search past and current access to information requests as well as see response times. A third website, entitled accountablespending.gc.ca is also proposed. It would allow government grants, contributions and contracts to be searched.

The announcement brings to the Canadian political debate an exciting issue that first gained broad notoriety in early 2009 when Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, called on the world’s governments to share their data. By May of that year the United States launched data.gov and in September of 2009 the British Government launched data.gov.uk both of which garnered significant domestic attention. In addition, dozens of cities around the world – including Vancouver, Edmonton and, most recently, Ottawa – have launched websites where they shared information that local charities, non-profits, businesses and ordinary citizens might find useful.

Today, citizens in these jurisdictions enjoy improved access to government information about the economy, government spending, access to information requests, and statistical data. In the United States developers have created websites that empower citizens by enabling them to analyze government data or see what government data exists about their community while a British program alerts citizens to restaurant’s health inspections scores.  The benefit however, not limited to improved transparency and accountability. An independent British estimated that open data could contribute as much as £6 billion to British economy. Canada’s computer developers, journalists and entrepreneurs have been left wondering, when will their government give them access to the data their tax dollars paid to collect?

One obvious intent of the Liberals is to reposition themselves at the forefront of a debate around government transparency and accountability. This is ground that has traditionally been Conservative, but with the cancellation of the long form census, the single source jet fighter contract and, more recently, allegations that construction contracts were awarded to conservative party donors, is once again contestable.

What will be interesting to see is the Conservative response. It’s been rumored the government has explored an open data portal but to date there has been no announcement. Open data is one area where, often, support exists across the political spectrum. In the United Kingdom Gordon Brown’s Labour government launched data.gov.uk but David Cameron’s Conservative government has pursued the project more aggressively still, forcing the release of additional and higher value data to the public. A failure to adopt open data would be tragedy – it would cause Canada to lag in an important space that is beginning to reshape how governments work together and how they serve and interact with citizens. But perhaps most obviously, open data and open government shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

World Bank Discussion on Open Data – lessons for developers, governments and others

Yesterday the World Bank formally launched its Apps For Development competition and Google announced that in addition to integrating the World Bank’s (large and growing) data catalog into searches, it will now do it in 34 languages.

What is fascinating about this announcement and the recent changes at the bank is it appears to be very serious about open data and even more serious about open development. The repercussions of this shift, especially if the bank starts demanding that its national partners also disclose data, could be significant.

This of course, means there is lots to talk about. So, as part of the overall launch of the competition and in an effort to open up the workings of the World Bank, the organization hosted its first Open Forum in which a panel of guests talked about open development and open data. The bank was kind enough to invite me and so I ducted out of GTEC a pinch early and flew down to DC to meet some of the amazing people behind the world bank’s changes and discuss the future of open data and what it means for open development.

Embedded below is the video of the event.

As a little backgrounder here are some links to the bios of the different panelists and people who cycled through the event.

Our host: Molly Wood of CNET.

Andrew McLaughlin, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, The White House (formerly head of Global Public Policy and Government Affairs for Google) (twitter feed)

Stuart Gill, World Bank expert, Disaster Mitigation and Response for LAC

David Eaves, Open Government Writer and Activist

Rakesh Rajani, Founder, Twaweza, an initiative focused on transparency and accountability in East Africa (twitter)

Aleem Walji, Manager, Innovation Practice, World Bank Institute (twitter)

Rethinking Freedom of Information Requests: from Bugzilla to AccessZilla

Last week I gave a talk at the Conference for Parliamentarians hosted by the Information Commission as part of Right to Know Week.

During the panel I noted that, if we are interested in improving response times for Freedom of Information (FOI) requests (or, in Canada, Access to Information (ATIP) requests) why doesn’t the Office of the Information Commissioner use a bugzilla type software to track requests?

Such a system would have a number of serious advantages, including:

  1. Requests would be public (although the identity of the requester could remain anonymous), this means if numerous people request the same document they could bandwagon onto a single request
  2. Requests would be searchable – this would make it easier to find documents already released and requests already completed
  3. You could track performance in real time – you could see how quickly different ministries, individuals, groups, etc… respond to FOI/ATIP requests, you could even sort performance by keywords, requester or time of the year
  4. You could see who specifically is holding up a request

In short such a system would bring a lot of transparency to the process itself and, I suspect, would provide a powerful incentive for ministries and individuals to improve their performance in responding to requests.

For those unfamiliar with Bugzilla it is an open source software application used by a number of projects to track “bugs” and feature requests in the software. So, for example, if you notice the software has a bug, you register it in Bugzilla, and then, if you are lucky and/or if the bug is really important, so intrepid developer will come along and develop a patch for it. Posted below, for example, is a bug I submitted for Thunderbird, an email client developed by Mozilla. It’s not as intuitive as it could be but you can get the general sense of things: when I submitted the bug (2010-01-09), who developed the patch (David Bienvenu), it’s current status (Fixed), etc…

ATIPPER

Interestingly, an FOI or ATIP request really isn’t that different than a “bug” in a software program. In many ways, bugzilla is just a complex and collaborative “to do” list manager. I could imagine it wouldn’t be that hard to reskin it so that it could be used to manage and monitor access to information requests. Indeed, I suspect there might even be a community of volunteers who would be willing to work with the Office of the Information Commissioner to help make it happen.

Below I’ve done a mock up of what I think revamped Bugzilla, (renamed AccessZilla) might look like. I’m put numbers next to some of the features so that I can explain in detail about them below.

ATIPPER-OIC1

So what are some of the features I’ve included?

1. Status: Now an ATIP request can be marked with a status, these might be as simple as submitted, in process, under review, fixed and verified fixed (meaning the submitter has confirmed they’ve received it). This alone would allow the Information Commissioner, the submitter, and the public to track how long an individual request (or an aggregate of requests) stay in each part of the process.

2.Keywords: Wouldn’t it be nice to search of other FOR/ATIP requests with similar keywords? Perhaps someone has submitted a request for a document that is similar to your own, but not something you knew existed or had thought of… Keywords could be a powerful way to find government documents.

3. Individual accountability: Now you can see who is monitoring the request on behalf of the Office of the information commissioner and who is the ATIP officer within the Ministry. If the rules permitted then potential the public servants involved in the document might have their names attached here as well (or maybe this option will only be available to those who log on as ATIP officers.

4. Logs: You would be able to see the last time the request was modified. This might include getting the documents ready, expressing concern about privacy or confidentiality, or simply asking for clarification about the request.

5. Related requests: Like keywords, but more sophisticated. Why not have the software look at the words and people involved in the request and suggest other, completed requests, that it thinks might similar in type and therefor of interest to the user. Seems obvious.

6. Simple and reusable resolution: Once the ATIP officer has the documentation, they can simply upload it as an attachment to the request. This way not only can the original user quickly download the document, but anyone subsequent user who stumbles upon the request during a search could download the documents. Better still any public servant who has unclassified documents that might relate to the request can simply upload them directly as well.

7. Search: This feels pretty obvious… it would certainly make citizens life much easier and be the basic ante for any government that claims to be interested in transparency and accountability.

8. Visualizing it (not shown): The nice thing about all of these features is that the data coming out of them could be visualized. We could generate realt time charts showing average response time by ministry, list of respondees by speed from slowest to fastest, even something as mundane as most searched keywords. The point being that with visualizations is that a governments performance around transparency and accountability becomes more accessible to the general public.

It may be that there is much better software out there for doing this (like JIRA), I’m definitely open do suggestions. What I like about bugzilla is that it can be hosted, it’s free and its open source. Mostly however, software like this creates an opportunity for the Office of the Information Commissioner in Canada, and access to information managers around the world, to alter the incentives for governments to complete FOI/ATIP requests as well as make it easier for citizens to find out information about their government. It could be a fascinating project to reskin bugzilla (or some other software platform) to do this. Maybe even a Information Commissioners from around the world could pool their funds to sponsor such a reskinning of bugzilla…

The Web and the End of Forgetting: the upside of down

A reader recently pointed me to a fantastic article in the New York Times entitled The Web and the End of Forgetting which talks about the downside of a world where one’s history is permanently recorded on the web. It paints of the dangers of a world where one can never escape one’s past – where mistakes from college rear their head in interviews and where bad choices constrain the ability to start anew.

It is, frankly, a terrifying view of the world.

I also think it is both overblown and, imagines a world where the technology changes, but our social condition does not. Indeed, the reader sent me the piece because it reminded him of a talk and subsequent blog post I wrote exactly a year ago on the same topic.

But let’s take the worse case scenario at face value. While the ability to start anew is important, at times I look forward to a world where there is a little more history. A world where choices and arguments can be traced. A world of personal accountability.

Broadcast media fostered a world where one could argue one position and then, a few months later, take the exact opposite stand. Without easily accessible indexes and archives discerning these patterns was difficult, if not impossible. With digitization, that has all changed.

The Daily Show remains the archetype example of this. The entire show is predicated on having a rich archival history of all the major network and cable news broadcasts and having the capacity, on a nightly basis, to put the raw hypocrisy of pundits and politicians on display.

The danger of course, is if this is brought to the personal level. The NYT article identifies and focuses on them. But what of the upsides? In a world where reputation matters, people may become more thoughtful. It will be interesting to witness a world where grandparents have to explain to their grandchildren why they were climate change deniers on their Facebook page. Or why you did, or didn’t join a given political campaign, or protest against a certain cause.

Ultimately, I think all this remembering leads to a more forgiving society, at least in personal and familial relationships, but the world of pundits and bloggers and politicans may become tougher. Those who found themselves very much on the wrong side of history, may have a hard time living it down. The next version of the daily show may await us all. But not saying anything may not be a safe strategy either. Those who have no history, who never said anything at anytime, may not be seen relevant, or worse, could be seen as having no convictions or beliefs.

I loved the New York Times article, but it looked at society as a place where social values will remain unchanged, where we won’t adapt to our technology and place greater emphasis on new values. I can imagine a world where our children may say – how did you have friends with so little personal history? It may not be our ideal world, but then, our grandparents world wasn’t one I would have wanted to live in either.