Tuesday 15 March 2016

@gdsteam & the search for doctrinal authority

Icon depicting the Emperor Constantine,
accompanied by the bishops of
the First Council of Nicaea (Sprint325),
holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed
of Sprint381.
The purpose of a creed is to provide a doctrinal statement of correct belief, or Orthodoxy. The creeds of Christianity have been drawn up at times of conflict about doctrine: acceptance or rejection of a creed served to distinguish believers and deniers of a particular doctrine or set of doctrines.
Twice we have recently drawn attention to the troubled creed of the Government Digital Service (GDS).

On 3 March 2016 we noted the article of faith in the primacy of user needs and how that is no match for the superior faith in digital-by-default, please see RIP IDA – users and their expressed, tacit and created needs for the truth.

In the same text, we recorded the inability of the assisted digital sect to get off the ground and suggested that the same fate may befall the interoperabilitarians.

Many creeds believe that they are uniquely open, even when they manifestly aren't. GDS are no exception.

Why have Verizon shut the church gates against new adherents for the past 10 days or so? To convert to "Framework 2", GDS intones. Not convincing. The other "identity providers", as they are cabalistically known, have all managed this transformation on the hoof ...

... all apart from the recalcitrant PayPal, of course, the GOV.UK Verify (RIP) serial apostates. Why have PayPal refused communion, not once, but twice? Silence on the conflict from GDS.

Many creeds deny plain facts, preferring instead the revealed truth. All "identity providers" are "certified companies" is part of the liturgy. But they're not, as any plain disciple can see. It must be confusing for them. It must test their faith severely.

Thus it ever was. Mystery is key to any religion. As is security, which is promised by GDS but renounced, at least on the internet, by Barclays and just about everyone else.

Mystery, security and miracle. Who can resist the miracle of GOV.UK Verify (RIP) and its invisible link to DWP's Universal Credit? Or the miracle of its link to DEFRA's non-existent computerised Basic Payment Scheme, which even the old can't remember ever witnessing.

We drew attention also to those who profess 90% penetration. Not just on 3 March, we returned to the question this morning, please see RIP IDA – reciting the creed. The commandment says 90% but penetration has actually fallen in the past six weeks from a heady 77% to 62%.

Disappointing, again, for the plain disciple but somehow 62, for the truly penitent, is the new 90 because iteration is the same as improvement.

GDS believe that GOV.UK Verify (RIP) will be a magical improvement on the way that the great unwashed accesses public services. They want you to donate all your personal information to the "identity providers", who will then share it out among the international clergy thereby bestowing redemption on us all.

How does this abide by the promise of privacy? It doesn't. DMossEsq has raised this question in secret convocation with the Privacy and Consumer Advisory Group. The decision passed down by the orthodox canon lawyers in their ecclesiastical court is that, in their judgement, actually, GOV.UK Verify (RIP) abides by all nine identity assurance principles. Even though it doesn't. So be it.

GDS have experimented with a number of icons for veneration in their Holborn temple ...

... so far without success.

May we proselytise therefore on behalf of St Agile de Rebais?

A bit later than Nicaea, admittedly, but a lot earlier than yesterday, the date of birth conventionally adopted by most GDS disciples, St Agile is thought to have lived from about 583 to 650 ACE.

Two key points in Agile's favour:
  • He was a doer, he got Rebais Abbey built: "Agile ... se rendit à Rebais où il fit continuer et achever les travaux. Une fois la dédicace de l'église abbatiale effectuée, les prélats, dans une assemblée tenue à Clichy, firent d'Agile le premier abbé de ce monastère, c'était en 636". As we all know, if you're agile, "you don’t have to go far to see digital teams doing the do".
  • He was a brave defender of (high-born) women's rights: "la reine Brunehilde, veuve de Sigebert II, se mit à persécuter Saint Colomban parce qu'il défendait l'entrée de son monastère aux femmes, fussent-elles de haut lignage ... Celle-ci, outragée, fit publier, par son petit-fils, Thierry un édit qui défendait aux moines de saint Colomban de sortir de l'enceinte de leur maison ... [Agile] se heurta aux soldats qui empêchaient quiconque de sortir du monastère. L'un d'eux voulut le frapper de son épée, et son bras retomba inanimé, jusqu'à ce qu'Agile ait eu prié longuement pour lui. Le soldat, voyant le miracle qui venait de s'accomplir, se convertit en rejoignit l'abbaye. Le roi, instruit de cet évènement, accueillit Agile les bras ouverts, et confirma la règle qui défendait l'accès du monastère aux femmes".
They've already got good hymns. Be consistent, not uniform. Don't procure, commission. The unforgettable Good services are verbs, bad services are nouns. Punctuation can slow people down. JFDI, by Agile people. That sort of thing. But somehow GDS still lack doctrinal authority ...

... the authority in Whitehall that St Agile of Rebais could confer on them.

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