Open Government via the iPhone – What if My Cell Phone’s Dumb?

From the Washington Post‘s technology blog comes word of the Real Time Congress app for iPhone (and there’s a version for Android).  Here are the features:

  • Live Floor Updates – Updates from the House and Senate floor as they happen.
  • Key Documents – See critical reports and memos as they are published online by the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Service, Office of Management and Budget, party policy committees and more!
  • Whip Notices – Daily and weekly notices from the House Majority and Minority Whips.
  • Hearing Schedules – Schedule of upcoming committee hearings from House and Senate.

Sounds great, and the snapshots of the features suggest this will be a good source of information for those that follow Congress closely.  It’s not the only U.S. government app of its kind (and the U.K. Parliament is getting in on the app trend, though aimed at those too young to vote).

Here’s my concern – do I have to get a smart phone to take advantage of these government-oriented apps?  I hope not.  Otherwise we might be looking at a new digital divide – those who have smart phones and those who don’t.  Please make versions for non-phone platforms.  The app fee isn’t the issue, the ridiculous contracts and high phone prices are.


Tory Universities Secretary Promises to Delay UK Researcher Career Suicide

Times Higher Education reports that David Willetts, the Conservative Party’s Shadow Minister for Universities, promised that the Tories will propose delaying the 2013 Research Excellence Framework assessment by two years (H/T ScienceInsider).  The pending career suicide I noticed last week has a temporary reprieve.

This delay would be done specifically to allow a more thorough of including impact in the assessment.  A key point in the article:

“If there is a measure that is methodologically robust and widely accepted by the academic community, we would adopt that.”

He added that the Conservatives “do not believe that the current proposals pass those two tests. Unless the review is able to establish a measure that does, we would not include impact in the REF.”

The Conservatives are considered likely to take the reins in the Parliamentary elections taking place sometime this year.  The rest of the article suggests, in a rare (at least to me) example of wisdom on this issue, that the delay would most likely lead to a refinement of how impact would be measured, and at what levels.  Those seeking an outright ban on including impact in the REF (or on proposals) will be disappointed, it will just take a couple more years.

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