Tom Kitt, Info society minister, rejects ‘obsessive’ bloggers

Speaking the morning at the Irish Management Institute the government’s Minister for Information Society in the Department of the Taoiseach, Tom Kitt TD said that government cannot be swayed by obsessive bloggers but must give equal voice to people who don’t have time to have narrowly focussed opinions. Info supplied by a pair of incredulous blogger ears in the room by SMS, so direct quote not guaranteed.

A couple of questions occur to me in response to the ideas sewn into this statement.

Firstly, the possibility that the government considered whether to be swayed by bloggers and then consciously decided against it is pleasing.

Secondly, it is confirmation that the government didn’t really know what an information society would look like when they created a (Junior) Ministry to promote it. Now that it is taking its first, skeletal, form- informed citizens demanding more detailed answers than generalist journalists ever could- they know they don’t like it.

Other than upping the chances of John Waters’ appointment as Government Press Secretary, what other inferences might we draw from Mr. Kitt’s statement of intent?

UPDATE: Also at today’s IMI do, the Assistant Director of the Local Government Computer Services Board takes the chance to grumble about the carefree nature of bloggers- “if all the bloggers in the country tell me I should go with industry standard x and I go with it, will the bloggers stand with me if it goes wrong”. Those pesky bloggers with their opinions!

Is this bee in the bonnet of Government about bloggers new? Perhaps there’s nothing like 400 people getting together in a room- uncontrolled people- to make something move from harmless hobby to dangerous subversion.

UPDATE 2: The text of the Minister’s comment is now posted on the Department of Taoiseach’s website.

Indeed, this also holds for the democratic processes themselves where simply facilitating those who want to be heard is not good enough where we need to ensure that we are not overly swayed by obsessive bloggers where we have to make sure that those who do not have the time or the inclination to voice their views and opinions in public, can still get continued democratic representation.

No great change from the reported comments above there. With thanks to Daragh O’Brien, who pointed the speech out in the comments below.

24 Comments

  • Justin Mason says:

    Incredible. I hope they realise that the “bloggers” they refer to are simply the kind of interested amateurs that are core to the political process…

  • Someone should FOI how much the LGCSB spent on their content publishing system that was passed off as some kind of blogging system. Is he pissy because it was crap and expensive and was told it was crap?

    Kitt’s statement should be on some Govt website, should it not?

  • Des Walsh says:

    Congratulations! You’re getting their attention. From my experience of government and in terms of achieving change, that’s a whole lot better than them not noticing the bloggers or just ignoring them. Us.

  • You need to examine the PR team behind the govt ministers before giving the ministers full credit for slamming the Fifth Estate.

  • Celtictigger says:

    On one hand they have a point. If you work on projects and are trying to effect change in civil service processes then having bloggers bitch about the standards of your software and/or the processes and practices that you implement then you’ll doubtless feel aggrieved.

    the quotes, filtered as they were through caffiene deprived ears might not be perfect reflections of the sentiments. Perhaps our info society minister might engage with the information society and clarify his comments.

    finally i suspect that ‘blogger’ might have been used as a political shorthand for open source communtities and their proponents…who tend to communicate with their market via blogs.

    of course that just evidences a waters-level of over generalisation.

  • Obviously it was a mishearing. They were having a go at BOGGERS. An even easier target.

  • Mark Waters says:

    To paraphrase:

    “We’re all for an Information Society, we’re just not too interested in the Information you’re giving to us or the Society that you represent.”

  • Mark Waters says:

    To paraphrase:

    “We’re all for an Information Society, we’re just not too interested in the Information that you’re giving to us or the Society that you represent.”

  • Green Ink says:

    When Kitt mentioned 60% of the internet being pornography, the rubber mask was ripped away to reveal John Waters, who said “And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you pesky bloggers.”

  • […] using a feedreader or email. Thanks for visiting – Damien.The Government and Bitter Civil Servants railed against bloggers at a conference yesterday. We’re ruining all their fun it […]

  • NIall Kitson says:

    People who don’t have time to have opinions? Like industry ‘consultants’?

  • […] over at Tuppenceworth shared his thoughts yesterday on comments by our Minister for the Information Society and another Pu… at a conference that had nothing to do with blogging (’twas about Software Quality and […]

  • Dan Sullivan says:

    I think many folks in government are still smarting from the balls up that was the e-Voting contract and the fact that people came forward who worked in the tech industry and said that this particular system is a bad deal. They didn’t listen then and the lesson they’ve learned is to denounce in advance.

  • steve white says:

    tom kitt just threatened damien mulley , fight fight!

  • Someone in the LGCSB reads my site every morning. Maybe I should be worried.

  • Simon McGarr says:

    Bock: Yes, you should, but only for what it might say about your site.

    Steve: Thanks for that.

    Dan: I’d say you’re right. But its mostly going to be a resistance by traditional wielders of power to any new source of challenge.

    Niall: Thanks for the Comment. PC Live! Blog might (and I only say might) look nicer with a novel template.

    Green Ink: You’ve outed yourself as my source, with your insider information on what happened next.

    Mark: Nail. Head.

    Celtictigger: While the LGCSB guy might have made that generaliation, the same doesn’t fit into the context of a Minister’s speech. He really was rejecting active citizens in favour of passive ones.

    Bernie: Can you tell us who that PR firm is, in this case?

    Des: Quite right.

    Damien: tell us more of this wasteful system. For whom was it built?

    Justin: Unhappily, elected officials would prefer to have a disengaged, and therefore predictable, electorate than an engaged one.

  • Went looking for text of Tom Kitt’s speech on the Dept of the Taoiseach website. Apparently he’s not said a thing worth owning up to since January.

    In any event I suspect that the comment was a throw away remark not in the prepared text. Even if it was, it will doubtless not be there when the speech is finally published – plausible deniability and all that.

  • Mark Waters says:

    Damien: tell us more of this wasteful system. For whom was it built?

    He’s probably referring to Mobhaile. Boiling the ocean was my first thought when I saw it.

  • Unfortunately, Tom Kitt didn’t target boggers… text of his speech is on the dept of Taoiseach website…
    http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/index.asp?locID=454&docID=3803

    Scroll down to the bit about innovation (near the end) and see what his precise comments were.

  • EWI says:

    Heh. “Obsessed” = “people who cause us awkwardness by having opinions other than those we tell them to have.”

    p.s. the assistant Director of that operation was a blogger ‘imself, not so long ago:

    http://blogs.mobhaile.ie/twilloughby/
    http://national.mobhaile.ie/Default.aspx?alias=national.mobhaile.ie/tim

    p.p.s. don’t get me started on the LGCSB and their idea of “standards”. Ugh.

  • Interesting.. Tim Willoughby was the guy from the LGCSB at the event. Perhaps his experience of using mobhaile put him off blogging?

    Simon – you might want to edit the post to clarify the ‘Assistant Director’ bit.

  • […] The Irish blawgosphere is on the small side. Still, what we lack in quantity we try to make up in quality. Some particularly good pieces from the last week come from barrister Fergus O’Rourke (not a blogger or blawger) on insurance advice, Edward McGarr on discovery and, keeping it in the family, Simon McGarr (at tuppenceworth.ie) on the government Minister with responsibility for the ‘information society’ not liking bloggers all that much. […]

  • […] Kitt TD had a go recently at “Obsessive Bloggers??? who were getting all annoying by knowing things and by caring […]

  • Daragh: Not following you there, I’m afraid. What would it say about my site?

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