Archive for January, 2009

We must save Bletchley Park

With all the millions of lottery funding going on worthwhile causes, it amazes me that Bletchley Park should be reduced to making public appeals and government petitions to preserve its fascinating and hugely significant exhibitions of codebreaking and computing history, and the equally historic buildings in which they’re housed.

Much has been written about the history of Bletchley Park. Its major contribution to 20th Century British history is that during World War II it was the home of a group of people whose job it was to intercept and decode secret messages sent by the German army and navy. The operatives at Station X, as Bletchley was known, comprised the pick of the country’s mathemeticians and scientists – including the legendary Alan Turing. They developed and operated codebreaking machines which automated the decoding of messages encrypted by the infamous German Enigma machine.

Bletchley Park now houses a number of significant exhibitions. Turing’s orginal ‘Bombe’ Enigma decoding machine has been rebuilt, and is on display along with several examples of orignal Engima machines and other wartime crytpographic equipment, including the ‘Colossus’ machine, built to decode the later Lorenz codes.

The site also gives a home to the UK’s only hands-on Museum of Computing, with exhibits from all periods from early 1960s mainframes through home-built micros of the 1970s up to the modern day. There are several other wartime exhibits, and Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Society puts on regular demonstrations of the techniques used in wartime communications.

These exhibits could be housed anywhere. But the unique thing about Bletchley Park is that they can be visited in context – in the very buildings that were used during the war. This is simply unique and must be preserved, along with the Victorian main house which is full of atmosphere and history of its own – it is used mainly as an up-market conference and wedding venue which brings in much-needed funds.

Please, help save Bletchley Park. You can do this in several ways.

Your support is badly needed.

January 30, 2009 at 8:25 pm 3 comments

ROI – not always a matter of money

Read this today:

There is endless talk online and off-line of increased traffic to websites, comments galore, users joining your community, and community development. The question posed through all of this discussion is the concept of┬ámeasuring┬áROI in Social Media.Kyle Lacy, Social Media – Indianapolis, Jan 2009

Well, for some of us, measuring the ROI isn’t an option. In the Government sector, our success is to a great extent measured in terms of medium- and long-term policy objectives. A lot of our work at www.nhs.uk is about health promotion – the success of which can only be measured when a generation has passed.

Which leads me to a question – how on earth do we justify investment in social media in this context? I hope we can discuss this at the forthcoming UKGovCamp barcamp. And here, of course, if you care to.

January 17, 2009 at 7:48 pm 4 comments

Blimey, UKGovWeb09 is a sell-out!

Tickets for BarcampUKGovweb09 went on ‘sale’ at Eventbrite this afternoon – and as I type this, there’s only a handful left. I’m really looking forward to the day (31st January), which promises lively debate about a wide spectrum of topics relating to UK Government use of digital and social media. I’m sure I’ll get to spout on about some of my experiences at NHS Choices, as well as learning a whole lot about how other parts of Government address similar issues to the ones we face.

There’s a Google Group and a Ning network to discuss the event – before, during and after.

See you there?

January 14, 2009 at 9:46 pm Leave a comment


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