Showing posts from November, 2009

Article on Public Servant Bashing

I enjoyed this article in this weekend's Sunday Tribune about media bashing of public servants. snippet: DNA tests on a nurse from Enfield recently discovered she is a direct descendant of a family of cruel kitten killers from the 1890s. Investigations into the background of a teacher in Kilkenny revealed that wealthy ancestors on his mother's side used to stand outside the homes of starving people during the famine, munching potato salad sandwiches and feeding the leftovers to the local bird population. What else would he do with that kind of history but look for a job in the public service?

Courts Service Online

I went this morning to the website of the Courts Service in the hope of downloading a PDF of the forms needed to make a Small Claims application. My fabulous German kitchen is still unfinished, and the company that was installing it seems to have ceased trading. I was amazed to discover that I didn't need to fill out the form because I was able to complete the entire process, including paying entirely online. The Small Claims Court is designed to be cheap and easy, and the application was certainly that. That's what online government should be like. Hats off to the Courts Service.

Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, and Charts

The recent Irish Government report Delivering the Smart Economy provided me with a number of great examples for a class I like to give sometimes about how poorly (often deliberately) designed charts and graphs can be misleading without actually lying. Now I can replace some of my contrived examples with real life ones. The first example Business Expenditure on R&D is unusual. It shows business expenditure on R&D by indigenous and foreign companies over the years. Bizarrely the graph codes the information with bars of three rather colours than two. The far too subtle drop shadow above the bars is meant to point out that the bars are overlaid on top of each other. At a glance it would appear as though the foreign investment is not significantly greater than the indigenous because the total areas of of their respective colours is comparable. A more honest designer would simply have used two colours and stacked them one atop the other. This (the designer might retort) would make