back to article Beijing demands government apps must shed their bureaucratic skins

Beijing's internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), has decided government digital services and apps need to become less bureaucratic and formal. In a Monday notice, the Administration proclaimed it would strengthen supervision and standardization of government digital services to cure a syndrome that …

  1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    App Popularity Contest?

    Wanting to "shut down" apps which are rarely-used implies all "real" apps are web-based or only work via Internet connection, which is false. Further, popularity != value. It's rare that I have to look up the specs of an old hard drive and download the hard drive's firmware-flasher, but when I do need to, there is no reliable [current and malware-free] alternative to the manufacturer's website. If the manufacturer purges the data and software pertaining to an old drive simply because "it's old and unpopular", the manufacturer is destroying value.

    In the context of government services, how many times a year does a person get married? Far less than once, on average. But that doesn't mean there isn't significant value in letting people apply for marriage certificates online, even if they have to pick them up in person.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: App Popularity Contest?

      how many times a year does a person get married?

      Or even less frequently, get divorced or change your name - but those don't need to be "apps" they could be just one function in a larger app or only available via a web interface but not via some convenient "government app" that only serves more common needs.

      1. Johannesburgel12

        Re: App Popularity Contest?

        > Or even less frequently, get divorced or change your name - but those don't need to be "apps" they could be just one function in a larger app or only available via a web interface but not via some convenient "government app" that only serves more common needs.

        This is the exact intent of the regulation. OP needs to calm down.

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Re: App Popularity Contest?

          @Johannesburgel12: I wasn't-and-am-not "excited." I didn't use any exclamation points.

    2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: App Popularity Contest?

      Interesting definition you seem to be using there. I would say that an app that gets used 10,000 times but only once for each person (using your arithmetic = 1) is more popular then one that gets used 100 times by the same person (your artimmetic = 100).

      ie the correct comment would have been "how many times a year do people get married"

  2. xyz Silver badge

    I might move!

    The hell of Spanish government websites (and apps) is a thing to behold. Ok, you have your digital cert to get you in, but you're then faced with a civil servant's idea of what should happen and it's baffling. And if you're not quick the bloody things time out and that's if they actually work in the first place. A couple of weeks ago I tried to go through the drone (DJI mini to do an aerial survey of my land) registration process and gave up after about 6 hours of borked sites, huge complex rules and bad links. I didn't even get to the part where I have to register as a data controller because the bloody drone had a camera. And as for the Social Security site... Welcome to fascism.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I might move!

      Fascism? Actual real fascism? Of the sort that was around until 1975? I somehow doubt that the social security website is that.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Beijing should check out Luxembourg

    The Luxembourg government portal Guichet.lu is exactly what Beijing is looking for, apparently. From getting my commercial authorization as a freelance, to handling my yearly income tax procedure, whatever I need administratively for Luxembourg, I go there to get it done.

    A good idea done right.

  4. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    This won't be easy

    To someone who knows a system from the inside, it looks simple. How would you not know that getting planning permission is development control, but making sure the house was built according to the plan is building control? Everyone knows that, right?

    That's the problem though, most people don't know. Every profession has its slang that's impenetrable to beginners* and it's really really hard to design things to dial that out.

    * my personal bete noire is "layover" from the airline industry, which doesn't mean what the word looks like it should

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This won't be easy

      The real issue is the fallacy that it would be "better" or "more efficient" if people could do "this" themselves.

      The public who have no experience, knowledge or training attempt to negotiate systems with many steps, which in computer/web world (vs paper forms) are sequentially hidden from view.

      In reality it is far faster and more efficient for specialist/experienced clerks, who know what they are doing, to process these things.

      The objective is simply to transfer labour cost off the organisation's balance sheet. Generally most of these systems take far more manual intervention to fix up the problems, than having clerks doing the job properly in the first place. To a large extent, computerisation is the unraveling of specialisation - the root of what Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

      It is actually making us poorer, and the collapse of productivity growth in the last 20 years shows this.

      Does anyone think that Ford would actually save money by shipping you a truck load of car parts to put together yourself, with helpline assistance? Does anyone think we would get a better car, quicker and cheaper?

      1. Giles C Silver badge

        Re: This won't be easy

        Does anyone think that Ford would actually save money by shipping you a truck load of car parts to put together yourself, with helpline assistance? Does anyone think we would get a better car, quicker and cheaper?

        No but having built a kit car myself and got it road legal. It isn’t faster or cheaper but it is a great experience and fun to do and drive after it is on the road,,,,

      2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: This won't be easy

        Don't forget the the just plain badly designed interface. I spent quite a while in Argos recently clicking (well touching) a "continue" button that did nothing. Modern Windows type design and colour so no way to tell it was disabled and waiting for me to select NO I DON'T WANT INSURANCE.

  5. Mike007 Bronze badge

    I think the UK tried this... A couple of times...

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