March 30, 2005
Press Release Out Too Early?
The Guardian must have got the press release too early. Channel 4 is launching a website based on factcheck.org, to provide "unbiased" fact checking of what politicians say in the run up to the election. Well, I guess we can hope that it is unbiased but I’m not overwhelmed by the prospects. For one, the site is not yet up and running. Second, the track record of the guy running it:
ITN has hired Jon Bernstein, the former editor-in-chief of the Directgov website, to lead the FactCheck team of researchers and political journalists.
This would be the project that swallows 4.4 million a year or so? The one that is outperformed by 26 minutes playing with Google?
The Government's lumbering attempts to go online never
seem to compete with those knocked up by altruistic geeks. It's easier,
for example, to get in touch with most MPs through www.faxyourmp.com
than through the Commons website, and to scrutinise their interests
through www.theyworkforyou.com than any official resource.
A friend involved in these projects, just before Christmas, tried - using publicly available search technology - to produce a rival to the DirectGov portal. "Our tests," he reports, "show that DirectionlessGov is much more effective at most common searches than DirectGov.
"While full cost data is not available for the first year of operation, the publicly funded DirectGov has been built from a group with an operating budget of £4.4 million and a team of 39. At the time of writing, total development time for DirectionlessGov is approaching 26 minutes, and is reported to be on schedule." Try it yourself at www.directionlessgov.com
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