Think of the top three industries that seem cool to work in. I’d be surprised if you are my age and listed government as a top three coolest digital industry. But working on digital government projects seems to have become cool.
So cool, that last week Matt Cutts of Google fame announced that he will be leaving Google for the US Digital Service. Matt Cutts was the head of Google’s spam SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) team, and built up a large following across social media channels from webmasters around the world. There are forums set up to discuss every detail of his speeches and YouTube videos, to try to outsmart the chief enemy of SEO spam.
In the UK and US, working on government digital projects really has become trendy. I’ve followed the GDS (Government Digital Service) blog for a couple of years, visited their offices in Holborn, and their enthusiasm is as good as any start-up that I’ve seen.
As Matt Cutts says, “I’ve seen more and more people in technology trying to make government work better. They’re idealists who are also making a large impact.” I agree – the people I know at GDS have worked across lots of companies helping to make a difference, and now they want to do it on a massive national scale.
Ultimately, if new digital services are designed by young enthusiastic people, perhaps that can change government “from within”. For example, it’s 2016 and we still can’t vote digitally. I suspect if you asked an MP, even some of the younger ones, there would be a long list of excuses why we can’t use a mobile or desktop to vote.
Perhaps it’s reassuring that Matt Cutts and other idealists are joining government digital services, so that changes such as the voting system may come from the implementation team such as GDS rather than MPs?