Govt web teams told to back off

Personalisation is one of those concepts which crops up every so often; and certainly in the new media field, it simply hasn’t realised its undoubted potential. As I’ve mused here before (somewhere), I’m personalising my own online experience through RSS aggregation, moreso than any single website’s personalisation function.

But ‘personalisation’ is the buzzword behind today’s ‘Building on progress: public services‘ paper by the Cabinet Office. And I’ve spotted a couple of web references in it. One’s really just an aside, quoting the example of a school which ‘has introduced a parents’ website where they can access up-to-the-minute details of their children’s progress, homework and achievements.’ More interesting is the statement in paragraph 5.20:

The Government should support the development of new and innovative services that provide tailored advice to specific groups (for example the website which provides a discussion and advice forum for mothers). These are outside government’s direct influence, but government has a role to play in supporting them – for example by ensuring that they are not undermined by government programmes or websites with similar objectives, and have easy access to publicly available information.

There have been pointers in this kind of direction before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it expressed in such stark terms, with emotive words like ‘undermine’. This is a clear statement to departments that other people are often in a better place to address their audience than they are… and you should go out of your way not to tread on their toes.