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Speaker: Properly Public: It's our information

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  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to nzlemming,

    How are you finding Mendeley? I tried it once and couldn't get my head around it at the time (probably because what I wanted was something that would parse a document and auto-create an abstract more than just do bib work).

    I love it. My primary uses for that sort of PDF handler are 1) searching and sorting (folders, tags, multiple search avenues, etc.) 2) building bibliographies and 3) marking up papers for the key info I'll want to refer back to. It does all of those things very well, in my experience.

    The one big hole is that it handles image-to-PDF PDFs dubiously, which is a problem for anything older than about 1995 and also the journal Archives of Microbiology, for some reason, but if you're largely working with papers from the past two decades - which is true enough most of the time - it's fine.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Elisa Lavelle,

    Hi Mark - would you (or anyone else) know if there has been a BIM for the ACC Minister? I haven't come across one and have been interested in the shifts in this portfolio. Kind regards Elisa.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Sacha,

    Compulsory training of all public servants producing material for publication would help more than most current wet-bus-ticketing about standards.

    Good organisations have documentation dept’s with people expressly there for formatting and publishing said docs whilst content providers worry about producing content not .pdf’s…also content providers don’t need to train in typography and various awful-wares that produce orphan extensions. I prefer my source content as agnostic as possible, notepad is good ;-) And don't start me on crimes committed in the name of powerpoint, let alone msword, and mspaint.
    IBM were good at providing a full documentation and publishing facility for all staff. Auckland Council were shockers.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Elisa Lavelle,

    Found this section of the Department of Labour's BIM. Given its impending privatisation, I wouldn't be surprised if this govt is refusing to release much else about ACC.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16755 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Elisa Lavelle,

    Hi Mark – would you (or anyone else) know if there has been a BIM for the ACC Minister? I haven’t come across one and have been interested in the shifts in this portfolio. Kind regards Elisa.

    Well prompted ;-) I've just started looking for the ones I think should be there on the Beehive list. The ACC report is buried in the Accountability Documents section of their site. Reasonably accessible but more than a few withheld sections.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2158 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to merc,

    Good organisations have documentation dept’s with people expressly there for formatting and publishing said docs whilst content providers worry about producing content not

    I sort of agree, but getting simple semantic templates for document preparation and using styles instead of visually altering headings and the like would go a long way to producing accessible documents. If you need DTP resource for a special purpose, hire it in as required. The reason most government agencies don't have these people any more is that they don't have a full-time need. And those people, when we had them, were more about design than accessibility. We've been seduced by style over substance.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2158 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    The one big hole is that it handles image-to-PDF PDFs dubiously, which is a problem for anything older than about 1995 and also the journal Archives of Microbiology, for some reason, but if you’re largely working with papers from the past two decades – which is true enough most of the time – it’s fine.

    Take John's approach from the previous page and put them up to Google Docs to be OCRed. Doesn't do too bad a job, actually.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2158 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to merc,

    Good organisations have documentation dept’s

    Not so much any more, as raised upthread. Those skills need to be distributed along with the responsibiliites.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16755 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    Totally. We've inherited an old print publishing mindset where the content and presentation were completely separated rather than linked together in ways that affect accessibility. As you say, just using styled Headings in Word makes a huge difference.

    Most people have never been told why that is, and knowing such things is simply not valued. Organisations have ways of telling their people what to put energy into and where lipservice will be tacitly approved. Genuine commitment and leadership looks rather different than what's on offer now.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16755 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to nzlemming,

    I sort of agree, but getting simple semantic templates for document preparation and using styles instead of visually altering headings and the like would go a long way to producing accessible documents.

    The entire culture of document management and standards like this really have to be sponsored from the top to get any traction. Otherwise the publications, document and (today) website staff are constantly fighting managers and staff who don't see it as a primary responsibility that they were hired for. You can produce all the templates you like and provide standard filing mechanisms to keep the info in good order (very important for OIA responsibilities), but then it's necessary to convince people and managers, throughout an entire organisation, to use them instead of taking shortcuts that might make immediate tasks easier for themselves, and to file them properly. I think the lack of interest at the top in a few departments is what hinders some of this.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 429 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to izogi,

    I think the lack of interest at the top in a few departments is what hinders some of this.

    Yup, yup, yup. Totally agree. Back in the E-government days, we had notional agreement at the CE level that these things were important, but it never seemed to filter down. I also suspect that much of the "consensus" in the CE's Forum was about not putting your head above the parapet, and was immediately forgotten when the meeting was over.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2158 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    Enforceable KPIs in CEO employment agreements would be useful..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16755 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    That's what I asked for when we put the Guidelines to Cabinet, but SSC weren't prepared to go that far.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2158 posts Report Reply

  • slarty, in reply to nzlemming,

    Except that draft documents are OIA-able, as are hand-written meeting notes, audio recordings, photographs, even making officials reconstruct discussions and thought processes. Not a lot of people realise that.

    Exactly. And in the agency I'm thinking of, this was the way information was gathered for OIA's:

    1. Receive and interpret request
    2. email request to line managers who you think may have something relevent in their purview
    3. Line manager forwards on to relevent staff
    4. Staff and manager have received no guidance beyond "if it has draft on it etc. you don't have to 'fess up" so they ignore all those and respond in the negative
    5. Formal response issued that says "nothing to see here"
    6. Person who made the request throws hands in air and generally gives up because it's all too hard

    I witnessed this with a local agency - I saw the document, handed it back, made the request then was told it didn't exist...

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    How did they justify that refusal to act?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16755 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    I don't remember that they did. I think I was told not to be so silly and they were guidelines, not standards, so SSC weren't prepared to alter the contracts with CE's. It certainly was not included in the paper that went to Cabinet.

    We were in the mode of "persuading" rather than "enforcing" which rather made much of e-government a disappointing experience.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2158 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to slarty,

    I witnessed this with a local agency – I saw the document, handed it back, made the request then was told it didn’t exist…

    Quite believe it. I worked in one agency where my manager said "right, we read the question carefully and only answer exactly what we have to and no more" which, to my mind, is not in accordance with the spirit of the act. Mind you, the whole Public Service was getting regular fishing trips from Rodney Hide at the time (late 90's) so some people may have been getting a bit jaundiced about the OIA thing.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2158 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    We were in the mode of "persuading" rather than "enforcing" which rather made much of e-government a disappointing experience.

    That fundamental limp-wristedness makes most disability policy a disappointing experience. I'd prefer agencies and their masters were honest about not really giving a toss.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16755 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to nzlemming,

    Take John’s approach from the previous page and put them up to Google Docs to be OCRed. Doesn’t do too bad a job, actually.

    I'm definitely going to try it out. Could save quite a lot of time - although you lose the amusement factor of seeing Mendeley list your document as being authored by Dioxide, C., and Coli, E..

    And don’t start me on crimes committed in the name of powerpoint, let alone msword, and mspaint.

    My PhD supervisor doesn't understand why I make incoherent angry noises every time he advises me to make (A0-size) posters in Powerpoint. Or do image manipulation in Powerpoint. Or - anyway, I die a little inside every time.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Sacha,

    limp-wristedness […] a disappointing experience […]
    not really giving a toss

    – but then, isn’t that just what you’d expect with a limp wrist?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 916 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to linger,

    I am impressed that it's taken 45 comments to reach the gutter. Is this a PAS record? ;-)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2158 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to nzlemming,

    Mind you, the whole Public Service was getting regular fishing trips from Rodney Hide at the time (late 90’s) so some people may have been getting a bit jaundiced about the OIA thing.

    Yeah, I can appreciate the sentiment. Public servants are people too and they can feel annoyed and prevented from doing their actual job like everyone else, especially if it becomes clear that many of the requests they’re receiving are just massive fishing expeditions from journalists taking a stab that 1% of what they ask about might stumble on something interesting at the taxpayer’s expense of gathering the rest… which has good justifiable reasons from the other side of the fence, but if you’re busy trying to get your regular work done and already working late or under stress to try and meet other deadlines, it can also become very annoying.

    The agency I worked at now has a team of Research Analysts whose main role is to specialise in the OIA and Ministerial stuff, and understand the different parts of the rest of the organisation to be able to take some of the parallel OIA workload away from staff who frequently and repeatedly get hit by OIA requests as a consequence of working on things of significant public interest.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 429 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    Probably brought that one on myself (I'm sure there's a word for that).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16755 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to nzlemming,

    going through channels...

    ...45 comments to reach the gutter. Is this a PAS record? ;-)

    kerbing our enthusiasms, perhaps?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5046 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    MSI BIM was disappointing. A LOT of black ink plastered over and even the date of the expected completion of items was deleted so you have no way to tell when things happen so that one can then surmise what the black is or was.

    Shame "we" :-) probably caused the impressive increase in security of the documents a few years ago. We found a MoRST BIM had just had the type turned white rather than deleted. Heh. Copying and changing the font colour worked a treat. Sigh... I miss those times when secretaries or some poor minion didn't know any better.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1497 posts Report Reply

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