Thursday, September 3, 2009

2009 Best Practices Exchange, day two

Morning session, Best Practices Exchange, 3 September 2009.

Although today was a lot less hectic than yesterday, at least for me, my head is still so full of ideas that I really can't blog at length about everything that transpired. As a result, I'm just going to pass on a couple of intriguing points made by this morning's speaker, Theresa Pardo of the Center for Technology in Government:
  • There is a growing need for people who have both information technology/computer science skills and domain knowledge (e.g., knowledge of the financial market), but universities are just starting to meet it.
  • People like to solve problems, but sometimes this approach isn't appropriate. For example, it's pretty easy to get funding for mobile devices that will enable child protection workers to intervene before a child is killed, but it's a lot harder to get funding for a data system that could identify troubling family developments before they reach crisis proportions. What we really need to do is manage child abuse and other tangled problems -- those problems that are poorly structured, resource- and information-intensive, involve multiple stakeholders, and are characterized by social and political complexity -- not as problems to be solved but as dilemmas that must be managed collaboratively.

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