Wednesday 5 December 2012

Ooh, wow! GDS and The Interpretation of Tweets (Die Tweetdeutung)

What an awful job IDAP is.
No wonder the subject wishes he were somewhere –
or someone –

Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams (Die Tramdeutung) in 1900 and laid bare for all to see the precise workings of the psyche.

What would Freud have made of tweets? If only he had written it, what secrets of public administration would have been revealed by Die Tweetdeutung?

No need to guess, here are the answers.

The cleaning lady tells me that this tweet indicates that the subject prefers not to engage with anyone who disagrees with him. I cannot believe this.

The subject is chief executive of the Government Digital Service (GDS) and senior responsible officer owner for the UK government's Identity Assurance Programme (IDAP). He is a dedicated public servant who is clearly intent on forging a strong and pure national cultural identity.

And they say that just anyone could practise psychoanalysis, even a cleaning lady – ha!.

No. The clue lies in the food. What do trolls eat? Where do they buy it? How much of it do they need? More research needed. It is perfectly clear that the subject wishes to conserve supplies of this resource for the greater good of the nation.

One minute (19 July) the subject is the severe public servant conserving national resources (troll food).

Next minute (17 November) he is the exuberant champion of all that is modern and best (multi-coloured interactive graphics) for his parishioners (including context-sensitive advertisements for flats and houses to rent and buy).

The coltish excitement of that "Wow!" – truly a man of 140 characters!

Mapumental is an application that displays the geographical area from which it is possible to travel to a specified destination, by public transport, in a specified time. Monumental!

But will the subject's enthusiasm be reciprocated by an ungrateful public? No. When I click on the Hire us button, I find: "Mapumental's main funder was the – sadly now defunct – 4iP project, from Channel 4".

Strangely, this tweet, which was not even created by the subject, and which was merely re-tweeted by him, has given me the most pause for thought. The link takes the browser to 18 photographs of the opening ceremony of the Estonian consulate in Liverpool, mainly a lot of public officials in suits standing round a table with the statue of a bull on it.

It is always sad to see someone who feels out of place and wishes he were somewhere else. It is rare for that other place to be Estonia. (No disrespect to that no doubt fine country.)

Here we are, back again with the exuberant subject, "Ooh" look, another multi-coloured must-have?


This is altogether darker than the 17 November "Wow!" tweet.

The subject has once again been attracted by a colourful icon. But this time he is luring his readers into signing up with AccountChooser, a service which invites you to log on to all of your suppliers and each time stores the log-on details in one "convenient" place so that you can effortlessly choose who you want to be on any given occasion.

Inadvisable. GDS's "identity providers" should be avoided. I may be only a psychoanalyst but it seems to me that on the web and in Estonia, and even in real life here on terror firmer, handing over the keys to your identity, to parties unknown, is imprudent. Beware.

And the subject? He's just doing his IDAP job when he recommends that people relinquish control of their own identity. His super-ego must be in overdrive, manufacturing guilt in industrial quantities. What an awful job IDAP is. No wonder the subject wishes he were somewhere – or someone – else.

S Freud (translated)


Updated 14 December 2013:
'Remember, our forefathers came on foot. A very long journey, a hard one over the mountains, and taking a very long time. But, as we all know, it was worth it. It gave them all time to reflect and organize. But, above all, it gave them time to cleanse themselves of Yakawow.'

He was using a shorthand, derisive term, which encapsulated for us all the empty hedonism of the Others: even at the time of the Exodus, they had reduced their reactions to whatever they encountered to either a simple reflex negative or positive response: 'Yuck' or 'Wow' – Yakawow.
That's Susan Greenfield in 2121: A Tale From the Next Century (1 July 2013, not recommended) pursuing her idea that the excessive use of computers stops the large networks of neurons which characterise the adult brain from forming. The derivation of "Yakawow" and its early history are interesting, to a certain sort of mind at least ...

... just as maps appeal to a certain sort of mind, see Mapumental above. See also Tim Harford on maps in the second series of his Pop-Up Ideas on BBC Radio 4.

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