Mash the State: Lewisham

Sorely-missed Lewisham blogger Andrew Brown got in touch recently to tell us about a campaign to encourage Councils to embrace RSS feeds on their website to make it easier for residents to keep track of everything that's happening in their borough.

While it's a laudable enough aim, it's not top of the list of things we'd like to see the Council spend time doing. However, details of the campaign are below for people who love the technology. On the other hand, this is also a good opportunity to heap praise on Lewisham Council for its Twitter service.

When we first started blogging about Brockley, getting information from Lewisham Council press office was like squeezing blood from a stone. Today, the service is unrecognisable - they're proactive, responsive and helpful.

It helps, of course, that Brockley Central is more established than it was when we started troubling them, but its indicative of a broader culture shift and now, one of the best ways to follow the work of the Council and commune with the press office is to follow them on Twitter. While you're about it, follow us too please.

The architect of "Mash the State" says:

Last week I launched Mash the State, a national campaign to get government data to the people. It’s not a new idea but our method is. We’ll be setting up a series of challenges to the public sector, asking one group of public bodies at a time to release one specific set of data. Our first challenge asks all local councils to serve up an RSS news feed by Christmas. I wouldn’t have bet good money in 2003 that by 2009 370 councils would still be without RSS, but here we are. I’ve thrown the gauntlet down and I’m pleased to see that a couple of hundred people have signed up to our website or followed us on Twitter to help make this happen. The councils have got over eight months to do what in most cases will not be more than half a day’s work to serve RSS from their websites. Others less fortunate will have to persuade their content management system suppliers to enable this feature for them. All have got plenty of time to perform this technically trivial task in time to give the public a small but highly symbolic Christmas present that shows that government in this country is prepared to trust its citizens with their own data.

You can sign up to the Lewisham page here: