Gone But Not Forgotten

Hello, you've landed on DATA eh? - Open Data Toronto's original blog space for data discussions. This is not an active blog at the moment but legacy posts are still here. Have a read ... you can still provide comments.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Going for Gold at the web Olympics

NOTE: This is content from the web re:Brand posts going back to November 2010. We have kept the re:Brand posts as a legacy archive but, on a go forward basis as of October, 2011, the new DATA eh? content takes over this space.

OK, so I can't resist writing about the Olympics and making an analogy between the event and what we are trying to do with the web re:Brand of toronto.ca.

You might think I'm going to say we're going for gold and we want to "own the podium". But that's not exactly where I'm headed in this post.

But first, let me say 'way to go Canada!' I can only imagine the rush the athletes are getting.  Clearly, victory is sweet.  Aren't you absolutely lovin' the interviews with our Gold medalists? That being said, medal winner or non-medal winner, it must be pretty cool to just be there.  And, considering how much effort it took to get there, congratulations just for doing that.

The re:Brand isn't the "athlete"
At first I thought you could make an analogy between the Olympic athletes and the web re:Brand but, the more I thought about it, the analogy isn't with the athlete winning Gold as it is with the infrastructure surrounding the competition. The "website" is the facilities part of the concept - providing the course (site) for the skier (user) to run.  So actually you're the person who's got to win the medal not us.

If we take this further, the infrastructure for the games wasn't complete when Vancouver got the winning bid - the City took several years to get everything ready for show time.

So, the building process is appropriate to the analogy too and toronto.ca is in the building process now. With time and enough input we should be ready to present a world ready place where you can do your thing.

Ongoing Beta
I'm not saying it's going to take us 7 years to finish the place but there is a line of thought that says a web site is never done anyway.  Users can always contribute reactions and needs will ebb and flow.  So the idea of a big finish just isn't a good one.

Joshua Errett wrote in NOW Magazine last summer that Toronto - not just us the municipal government but the city as a whole - is in a "perpetual state of beta" or "stuck in "version 1.0". The article is interesting and though I have some disagreement with "perpetual beta" being a bad thing, I do think Errett's piece challenges everyone to do better.  Challenge, too, is in the spirit of Olympic competition.

And, when it comes to doing anything (including the web), you will always have a certain amount of obstacles in the way.  Insert your own analogy here for the equivalent of bad ice or no snow.  Yet you do have to run the race at some point. Right now, we're asking users to run a race with some rather poor conditions. We do want to change that.

All this just further defines my sense of urgency to hear from anyone landing here (YOU) about toronto.ca experiences.  Absent of more concrete examples of user issues, we won't have any alternative but to go on assumptions of user issues. And that isn't what we want to do.

So I'm putting some pressure on you to take five more minutes (maybe less) and let me know what you find easy or hard about toronto.ca.  Just comment here.

Bullet points are cool as is a full scale diatribe. Either way, and no matter how long or short you write, it won't be nearly as hard as having to jump off a mountain with a couple of ski poles in your hands and have a whole bunch of people chase after you to the finish line.  But I wish you good luck and a good finish all the same.

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