Technology Shouldn’t Be Rocket Science

[ 0 ] July 2, 2014 |

The failure of Healthcare.gov showed how much improvement we need in technology at the federal level. Billions of dollars were poured into the project to build the health care website and even after all that money was spent, there were still a number of issues to be worked out. It was a very public debacle.

But the problem isn’t entirely technical and not realizing that is part of the reason why the government is still struggling.

WATCH as Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media and a supporter of the free software and open-source movements, talks about the role of technology and government, how they can be improved, and Code for America:

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healthcare.gov-crash-1“What’s interesting is when you imagine these Google engineers coming in to fix Healthcare.gov, you sort of imagine it was their deep technical expertise that was central to the rescue, but it wasn’t,” says O’Reilly. “They knew what needed to be done, to be sure … but they really were debugging the human side of what went wrong.”

For example, those Google experts looked at questions such as, why weren’t people talking to each other, or contractors were building things that didn’t work together, or put monitoring systems in place to determine where things were breaking?

Fixing those root human problems, and rebuilding the site with the user – not the government – at the center, is what the engineers did to make the site more user-friendly and effective.

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“One of the big problems with government technology is that you have a mandate which comes down from government, then it’s filtered through the structure of government,” O’Reilly explained, but citizens just want to get something done. So building something from the outside-in, springboarding off of the users’ wants, is more effective, and will give people things they actually will use.

Technology shouldn’t be rocket science, it should be human science, “O’Reilly adds. As long as the government keeps up with the revolution of technology, he says, “we’ll look back in ten years and say, ‘wow remember when government didn’t know how to do technology?'”

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Category: Aspen Ideas Festival 2014

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About Tim O'Reilly: Tim O'Reilly is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc., thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. Over the years, Tim has built a culture where sustainable innovation [...]
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