Inbox: YouTube surveillance, skills gap, Naked speak

"It is up to citizens to use them, and not just moan in comments to"

"It is up to citizens to use them, and not just moan in comments to"

The weekly Inbox column collects the best and most thought-provoking of the reader comments receives each week.

Inundating's inbox this week have been comments surrounding the "sous-veillance" techniques being employed allowing citizens to turn the spotlight on government. Another story which has had readers reaching for their keyboards revolves around the much-talked about 'skills gap'. And lastly,'s resident Naked CIO has been ruffling some feathers again this week, with readers having some mixed reactions…

Don't forget to post your own response to any of these stories or comments by clicking here.

Citizens use YouTube to keep gov't in check
Citizens are used to CCTV surveillance but a parliamentary group says that cameras are being turned on governments to keep them in line.

Speak up!
'Sous-veillance' gives the citizen, at last, another way to answer back. In fact, thanks largely to the work of Tom Steinberg's and other websites calling MPs, Downing Street and councils to account, these tools have been there for some time.

It is up to citizens to use them, and not just moan in comments to

Got an opinion on any of these stories? Get it off your chest

Post a comment below

Incidentally, the Parliamentarians who sat in on the EURIM hearings were a roll call of the MPs and Peers who care about IT. Have a go at them, and stop saying that nobody in Parliament cares.
Richard Sarson, Wimbledon

'Power to the people'
Reverse surveillance - what a great idea. It's time the gov't servants, we, the public, have hired, are made accountable for their actions just like the private sector. More power to the people ...
Go Leez, San Jose, CA

Name and shame
It works both ways. Naming and shaming public and private sector industry into doing what they get paid to do, and using the technology to highlight "grot spots" or public nuisance areas. The technology only isolates the vulnerable if technology is used to replace face to face services instead of enhancing the service.
George A Smith, North West England

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Skills gap plugged by latest IT degree?
A foundation degree course will launch at colleges in England this autumn aimed at boosting sought-after tech skills and addressing the nation's IT skills gap.

Still not enough
It's encouraging to see organisations addressing the growing IT skills gap in this country, but much more needs to be done if we are to tackle this problem once and for all.

Only by universities and industry working together will established skills and experience, such as COBOL, be passed onto future generations, finally closing the skills gap and ensuring the future of UK organisations.
Arunn Ramadoss, Newbury

If courses don't match up, scrap 'em
Yes it will help; any combined course between universities and firms has to be good. But what is really needed is for someone to take a hard look at all university "computer science" courses, and see whether they:

  • Are suitable for enhancing the existing skills of today's YouTube/Bebo generation
  • Equip students for the next mobile and web technologies to come over the horizon
  • Give them a grounding in business, government, media on which to hang their technical skills
  • Encourage creativity

If today's university courses do not match up to these criteria, they should be scrapped and replaced by ones that do.
Richard Sarson, Wimbledon

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The Naked CIO: Tech's weasel words
To improve our credibility we could all start by rooting out the waffle, the weasel words and the technical jargon. And a little more honesty wouldn't go amiss either...

Truth not an option
Sadly telling the truth is not an option. No CEO will tolerate being told his idea is at best suspect, no HR director will tolerate being told his pay policy is divisive. In fact you really cannot tell anyone the truth if you want to survive, which is why we have always hidden behind technical jargon.

And it is not a new phenomenon - way back in the mid 1960s when I started in IT we used to use strange phrases deliberately to inform ourselves whilst protecting ourselves. Keep your head down, CIO - or join the scrap heap of those with more experience than you can shake a fist at (and probably have) but who find it impossible in this climate to get a job!
Anonymous, Surrey

It makes them feel 'big' and 'smart'
"It's people casually bandying about words and phrases to conceal complex ideas".

Actually - I've always seen it as the exact opposite.

People use complex words and phrases to conceal simple ideas. I presume that it makes them feel 'big' and 'smart'. It's a nice idea to be able to speak plainly but you have a Titanic problem on the table, where a large portion of the interface co-ordination communication is further compounded, when taking into account the preliminary qualification limit.
Simon Allen, Hertfordshire

Why complicate things?
Many of these words, the ones you have identified as being misused, also have the power of explaining well known structures and situations in simple phrases.

For example, when we say 'the business' we all know what is meant by that. How else do you say what you want to say without writing a whole new paragraph explaining what you are wanting to explain all because you have decided to remove a list of words from your vocabulary?
Dan Perrin, London

Falling at the last hurdle
Great article that unfortunately ends with an ultimately clichéd paragraph: "To gain credibility we also need to be more honest and work as part of a comprehensive strategy that produces tangible and transparent results."

As a writer for an IT marketing agency I've seen that last phrase in particular a thousand times. It would be right at home in any vendor's C-level-focused product brochures.
Anonymous, UK

Taking issue
The Naked CIO uses a weasel word himself, "Issue". When people talk about "technical and organisational issues", they really mean "the software is buggy, and the CIO is an "****hole". Why not say so?
Anonymous, UK

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