By WILL WILES
New York Times, November 29, 2012
The No. 10 Dashboard taps into the same desire to master available information — a desire that has only grown as the amount of information in circulation has increased. Where Cybersyn needed dedicated national infrastructure and rooms full of equipment, the app runs on a hand-held device. And yet, the dashboard is actually less sophisticated.
It is not truly cybernetic because it lacks a mechanism to translate all that data into action. It can display information; it cannot consult and control. Less a driver’s dashboard, it is more a window out of which a passenger can observe the national scenery speeding past. Government might be given the illusion of hand-held, one-stop manageability, but no actual managing is going on.
The app could thus be an apt metaphor for politicians reduced to spectators by the surges and shocks of the globalized world. Mr. Cameron should remember that there’s at least one other instance of government-by-app: the team that worked on restructuring Greece’s debt used iPads too, equipped with an app purpose-built for the job.
However that turns out, we can at least say this: in terms of distractions, these apps are marginally more useful than Fruit Ninja.
Phi Beta Iota: Below are immediately pertinent references. Technology is not a substitute for strategy or thinking. As Paul Strassman has so famously noted, “Information Technology makes bag management worse.”