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14 August 2020 #48

👋 Hello again, welcome.

We published our third book of essays, Signals, online earlier this week – this one centres around international development. The world was a very different place when these pieces were finalised in November last year, but many of them have even more resonance today. The collection begins here.

Expect the next paperback edition of Signals in the autumn. 


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Ways of working

✅ We published Public Digital’s positions last month and CEO Ben explained why in his post. Affiliate Giles’ post covers the process of how we wrote them and how you too can write corporate positions that *mean something*.

📣 Basecamp published a guide on internal communication. Lots of good stuff in here to keep in mind. This in particular: “If your words can be perceived in different ways, they'll be understood in the way which does the most harm.”

🍳 Our affiliate Dave Rogers’ post Culture eats technology for breakfast highlights how poor cultures can encourage neglect, poor decision making and prevent people from caring about what is important – ultimately reducing the quality of tech. Part of Dave’s Toxic Technology series. 

The results of Matt Jukes’ job survey are in and he’s summarised them here. TL;DR: include salary bands 😡 It is fair and transparent and shows respect for candidates’ times. Jukesie’s excellent job listing newsletter includes digital jobs in the public sector (mainly UK).

🇸🇬 How tech, data and international partnerships helped Singapore manage essential supplies during the pandemic.

State of technology

💭 Here’s Benedict Evans thinking out loud on the difficulties of regulating technology. “In the past, policy debates were national, but now we have global platforms versus national laws.” Here’s a Twitter thread summary and here’s an example: Egypt’s TikTok crackdown targets young female influencers – women abiding by the platform's community rules but being sentenced and fined for violating 'family values'. 

3️ long reads on big tech:

  1. The big tech hearing showed that anti-monopoly is a partisan issue. (Here’s a write up of the hearing).
  2. Would breaking up ‘big tech’ work? What would?
  3. What would happen to our data if /when big tech companies close or fail? 
🇮🇳 Whatsapp has been working with banks in India to explore ways to bring financial services to unbanked individuals. (Makes sense – India is Whatsapp’s biggest market). WhatsApp’s reach has helped ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra reach more than 3 million new users in the last year. Next up: how to bring pensions, insurance and credit to lower wage workers and rural areas.

📍 This piece asks why contact-tracing apps have gone from the spotlight. A nice, concise overview of the apps across the globe that have been available (or at least planned), as well as those that have flopped due to little traction, privacy worries, data restrictions and change in policy. Related: this more in-depth look at the UK’s failed contact tracing app documents the contortions of the UK’s Health Secretary. 

😄 This time capsule of the Dark Ages of the Web is super fun. Go ahead. Reminisce. 💖

📷 There’s a tool you can use to manipulate your digital images so that your selfies can’t be recognised by facial recognition systems. Interesting, especially in light of the BLM movement and the racial bias controversy. Aptly, it’s called ‘Fawkes’ – the unmistakable face of protest.  

Digital government

🇿🇦 South Africa is hoping tech will help more citizens take part in the 2021 census. A trial will start shortly to test online and telephonic data collection.

🇺🇸 In the US, the Budget Committee held a hearing to explore how the federal government can invest in new and more advanced IT systems and methods to better serve the American people and grow the economy. Background here. During this year’s Digital Services Convening, we repeatedly heard that this is the right time for digital teams around the world to ask for more funding – Claire’s post echoes this.

🇹🇼 Here’s a brilliant piece on Taiwan’s Digital Minister, Audrey Tang. Half profile interview, half about Taiwan’s response to the pandemic. 

🇸🇱 🇧🇩 🇹🇬 🇷🇼 Public Digital’s Claire Bedoui wrote about 4 ‘CovTech’ success stories you probably won’t know about for GovInsider. She gives Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Togo and Rwanda their due for some impressive pandemic responses.

🌍 The authors of Digital entrepreneurship in Africa show how entrepreneurs have creatively adapted digital technologies to local markets rather than aiming of global dominance.

🇺🇸 Old, but new to me: is an interesting way to highlight and feedback on US public services. What if more external organisations monitored/ reviewed, even held people to account for user experience in the public sector? Fintech company 11:FS have monetised a similar thing – Pulse, an analysis service that allows you to compare your competitors’ user journeys.

News from Public Digital

We can help
We have many years of experience helping teams and their wider orgs reorganise, innovate and deliver quickly so they can look forward with more confidence. Drop a line if you’d like some support.

On the PD blog

😊 My 4 takeaways from the 2020 Digital Services Convening, by Claire Bedoui

💡 How to write corporate positions that mean something, by Giles Turnbull

 📒 Signals 3: International Development is now online, by Emily Middleton

Hola, Spanish-speaking friends
🇪🇸 If you’d prefer to read this newsletter in Spanish, you can sign up here. 😊
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We’re Public Digital. We work for governments and large organisations around the world to help them adapt to the internet era. 

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