Thursday, 31 August 2017

In praise of friction

With the acceleration due to gravity standing at 9.81 ms-2, if there were no friction, you could never walk uphill. The only way would be down. Not good.

In Part 3 of his series of blog posts on the vision for the Digital Marketplace Warren Smith says that the Government Digital Service (GDS) are "enabling end-to-end buying that's as frictionless for users as possible". That can be bad for people who make a purchase in haste and then regret it. That's why we have cooling-off periods.

Again, "frictionless" doesn't always mean good.

GOV.UK is the public face of the UK administration on-line. GDS's vision for GOV.UK is like their vision for the Digital Marketplace: "Simpler, clearer, faster access to government services and information ... That means providing a single place for people to interact with government that's as frictionless as possible, and which continuously improves. And it means providing a platform that helps government understand and meet users' needs".

Open data is like a box of chocolates: "... He stressed the importance of open data as a means to 'unlock facts and evidence held in different silos, so that better local services can be realised.' This is about delivering real change for people in a frictionless way ...". Maybe silos aren't all bad.

In his blog post on what it is to be a "data-confident" government Paul Maltby regrets that "the type of frictionless internal data system we saw in Silicon Valley, even for non-sensitive data, seems a long way off". He may be wrong to regret it.

That may be a mistake.