On Friday I gave a talk on Benefits of the Social Web at the Association of Independent Museum’s (AIM) annual conference. In the subsequent workshop sessions the issue of the sustainability of the services provided by companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr was raised. In response I asked “Which do you think is likely to be more sustainable – Gordon Brown or Google?” And that was a question I asked before I heard Friday’s announcement that DIUS (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) was no more, being replaced by DBIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills).
Now the question of the sustainability of instiuional services is something I’ve raised previously, ever since the Guardian had a front page article on the Secret List of Universities Facing Collapse, which I described in a post entitled “Universities, Not Facebook, May Be Facing Collapse“.
But this news item (which the Guardian subsequently admitted was inacurate) was concerned with higher educational institutions which were in financial difficulties. The demise of DIUS made lead us to the situation in which well-regarded bodies and initiatives cease to be funded due to political manouvering in Westminster, Matt Jukes, whilst admitting that he is “no expert on the comings and goings in Westminster” goes on to add that “I really don’t see how this can be anything but bad news for FE and HE“. I would agree with this – as, it would seem, would many people I know on Twitter who sharing similar misgivings since the announcement on Friday. Indeed Andy Powell created a Wordle map of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skill press release which formed the basis of discussion on the lack of any mention of learning and the emphasis on skills and the economy.
And such concerns shoudn’t be restricted to the higher education sector. I suspect we’ll see other significant changes which affect public sector organisations such as libraries, museums and archives, either before or after the election.
Shouldn’t we now be including the dangers that our funding bodies and government quangos won’t be around for very much longer in our risk assessments and scenario planning exercises? And just as IBM has lived through the rise and fall of several generations of governments and government policies, might not Google provide a level of stability amid the current uncertainies in the government?