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A quick look at the bigger picture

For those of us who spend our lunchtimes wandering around the internet, TED Talks are an excellent and often-inspiring diversion. In a February 2010 talk, David Cameron discussed the relationship between politics and behavioral economics, arguing that the technology-driven empowerment of citizens ultimately increases their well-being.

Whether or not you agree with Cameron’s political perspective, and whether or not you agree with his assessment of human nature, his description of the relationship between “people power,” and transparency, choice, and accountability is an interesting one. He points to the Missouri Accountability Portal as an excellent example of public access to technology resulting in public empowerment.

Incidentally, Cameron promised a site that would track all government spending over £25,000, and all government contracts. Public spending data is now available in the Combined Online Information System (COINS) database. The UK government portal,, links to some guidance on using COINS, which indicates that the pledge about publicizing spending should be fulfilled by November 2010. It also indicates that user-friendly access options for some data subsets will be in place by August 2010.

You can watch the video here, or view the video with subtitles and an interactive transcript on the TED Talks site.

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