Issue 11 abstracts....

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Tangled webs of intrigue

President Clinton and "Commander Data" Al Gore have been trounced. There can be no other word for it. The most connected and sophisticated IT government in the world has been told in no uncertain terms by its employers to "go away".

But such is the imperfect presidential system that mid-term elections in the USA that the government is now effectively deadlocked, with vetos in the hands of opposing factions.

The promises made by Slick Willy Clinton in his presidential campaign have been proven largely unattainable (he blames the Republican blocking tactics, of course) yet the fact of the matter is that this is yet another example of the impossibility of attempting to run government on principles founded in the days when it took Paul Revere on horseback several hours to bring news that the British were coming.

With information from the remotest part of the globe now only milliseconds away from anyone anywhere, there is no scope for the most minuscule of skeletons in any politicianís closet.

Whilst Hillary Clintonís almost Amazonian style had already alienated a good many people, these many enemies were able to use modern IT (coupled, no doubt, to old fashioned journalistic prurience) to dredge up sleaze to order in the Whitewater affair.

The US is particularly ungovernable because of the huge cost of being elected. And as we all suspect, most rich people didnít get rich by playing the game entirely by the rule book: legal or ethical. Tomorrowís politicians must be bred in clean rooms, away from the faintest hint or opportunity for scandal. Or ITís inevitable intrusions must be curtailed ...what other options exist...?

Click here to browse at the Whitehouse http://www.whitehouse.gov/


HMG gets wired

The need to escape the attention of the press that presently hounds the UK government is painfully obvious. It is largely due to the same problem of "over accessibility" of information that has undermined President Clinton in the USA. And before him, widespread IT certainly helped scupper communism in East Europe. Too much information, too easily available. If such a thing is possible.

We all know that slightly nefarious stuff goes on amongst consulting adults and politicians, donít we? And itís been going on for years. The only difference is that it wasnít thrust on us by a rabid media at every opportunity.

But who is to say where the "offence" escalates from simply pinching the office paper clips, sexual impropriety, and making a few personal calls on the office phone to something more worthy of our condemnation and approbation?

The supreme irony, as the appropriately titled Guardian reminded us with the so-called "cod fax", is that the journalists themselves are widely perceived to be amongst the most amoral of professionals anyway!

But the rest of us are equally victims of a hopelessly unworkable parliamentary institution that was founded in the days when it took Dick Turpin 3 days to ride from London to York.

Times have changed, and with the news of the Treasury going on-line in this issue, we are delighted to see that the institutions are starting to get a grip with the IT issues for themselves.

The liberal availability of IT has been a bane for government for long enough: itís high time they turned IT to mutual advantage. But like the US administration before them, HMG will discover a flood of email reaction from the online community eager to share its views and opinions in ways that no politician can possibly deal with individually. Maybe the next step is to take a leaf from Noel Edmundsí book, and explore IT assisted referenda.

"So, do you want 5p on income tax and the possibility of better health services: or would you prefer to spend the money in your own way on your own health schemes?

Or should we just gunge the Chancellor? Dial 0898 1234456. Calls cost 48p...."

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