Digital Feedback

The EU has a digital agenda managed by the European Commission Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, who go by the name of DG Connect.

They have a lot on their agenda, but identified 7 areas of focus in 2012

  1. Create a new and stable broadband regulatory environment.
  2. New public digital service infrastructures through Connecting Europe Facility loans
  3. Launch Grand Coalition on Digital Skills and Jobs
  4. Propose EU cyber-security strategy and Directive
  5. Update EU’s Copyright Framework
  6. Accelerate cloud computing through public sector buying power
  7. Launch new electronics industrial strategy – an “Airbus of Chips”

Which all sound like good sensible initiatives that should help citizens of the EU work and live with digital, some of the initiatives may also help business.

And they’d like our input. At least I think that’s what this 1,300 word request is asking. But it’s not input on what they should do, or how they should do it, but on how it should be measured – “what we call internally our “metrics”.

So I tried. You must register with their system, apparently this is an EU rule. Which off-putting and pointless because I have not used my real identity to do so. I did it and then got to the first two questions

The first question, you also got the chance to comment.
The second question – not my real answers.

Part Two invites you to comment on the following subjects;

  • Components & Systems
  • Electronic Communications Networks & Services
  • Excellence in Science
  • Cooperation with European and international partners
  • NET Futures
  • Co-ordination of programmes and policies
  • Media & Data
  • Sustainable & Secure Society
  • Internal Support
  • Task Forces
  • Advisers

Each of which has a number of subsections for a total of 181 subjects. I haven’t read through every subject but the ones I have read are impenetrable, for example this is the vision for “Creativity: Encouraging Innovation”

While I understand each word in that sentence I cannot understand what it means; what outcome is meant, what role DG Connect should play. At the risk of sounding arrogant – if I can’t understand it there must be few who do.

If I wanted feedback on a wide ranging document such as this I would use a process that went where the experts are, and use the tools they use to collect the feedback. The process would look something like this;

1. Go where those people are.
In this case that would be Google+ and Twitter I suspect.

2. Form a group of “gurus”,
10-20 digital experts from around Europe and get them talking about the initiatives, they’ll blog and tweet about it and their audiences will engage… this shouldn’t be hard,  Social Media groups, tech seminars and digital conferences are thick on the ground.

3. Open source the document.
Create a framework/outline on which you want feedback, and put it up on googledocs – where everyone can comment/edit. Guy Kawasaki does this and thousands respond from all over the world.

4. Ask different questions.
Obviously you should measure  your company/team/organisations performance, and probably it’s good to get people’s input to do that in a way that is reasonable and helpful but it’s not in itself a very engaging question. The two big questions that should be crowdsourced are “what is the vision for a Digital Europe?” and “what is the role of the EU bureaucracy in that?” But I suspect they think the know the answer the first question and don’t want to hear that for most of us “not much” is the answer to the second.

I applaud the DG Connect crew for wanting input and feedback, but producing bureacratese and putting it in a walled garden are not the steps to get it from people with high digital knowledge. And the really depressing thing is that my taxes are (indirectly) paying for this – and I don’t get to vote in EU elections.