Government digital chief joins Aaron Swartz tributes

17 Jan 2013


The death of 26-year-old internet activist and co-creator of Reddit, Aaron Swartz, has unleashed an outpouring of sympathy and tributes online. But none of the eulogies are perhaps as surprising as the one written yesterday by Mike Bracken.

While Bracken's comments – praising Swartz's “unbridled eagerness to apply the toolkit of the internet age in the service of civil society,” – were in keeping with many of the sentiments expressed online, what made them unusual is Bracken's job, and the place he published the comments.

For those that weren't immediately aware, Bracken is the executive director of Digital at the Cabinet Office. The comments were published on the Government Digital Service blog.

Prior to his death, Swartz had been pursued by the legal authorities in the US, for his involvement in the unauthorised downloading of academic papers. 

While his prosecution has been widely condemned by internet activists, it is highly unusual to have government officials pay tribute to those suspected of breaking the law.

"We are shocked and saddened by the death of Aaron Swartz. Some of us at GDS were fortunate to have met him; others were involved in the many projects he worked on; all of us are in some way indebted to his legacy," he wrote.

In a footnote, Bracken explains his thinking behind making, what he recognised might be a controversial post.

"I understand this may seem the wrong place for these sentiments but we also believe in openness and we think that government departments should behave as though there are humans in them," he said.

"This is from our human side. I apologise in advance if anyone thinks I made the wrong call. That decision was all mine."

At V3, we welcome Bracken's comments. If he can keep such principles in tact in the delivery of digital services in the UK, we're all likely to be the better for it.

Open Compute Summit IV in pictures

17 Jan 2013

This year's Open Compute Summit IV saw the event's largest turnout yet. The conference is a gathering of technology companies and open source enthusiasts looking to see the latest in datacentre hardware. Originally set up by a group of Facebook engineers, the event has continued to grow over the past two years.

Here is some of the highlights from this years show:

This year's show came with the announcement of new partners for the Open Compute Platform (OCP). Firm's like ARM, Sandisk, and EMC announced their introduction to the group during the show. They joined companies like Intel and Wiwynn as members of OCP.

ocp-banner-mainstageThe main ballroom for this years show hosted such technology big wigs as Intel's chief technology officer, Justin Rattner, founder of O'Reilly Media founder, Tim O'Reilly, and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Andy Bechtolsheim.


On the vendor floor, tech firms like Wiwynn showed off their latest cloud storage system the SV 7110. The technology is powered by Intel's Atom processor.


Wiwynn and Intel were not the only company to show their support at the OCS. Dell also showed up on the vendor's floor to show off a slew of appliances. The technology heavyweight's support goes just behind the vendor floor as Dell is also a partner of the OCP. 


Nimbus Data also showed up on the vendor floor this year. The flash storage firm showed off its latest in sustainable storage. Nimbus preached that its products would offer future-proof flash memory for a consumers datacentre.


This year's OCS was bigger than every before and the OCP expects it to keep growing. What started out as a group of Facebook engineers calling for corporation has quickly become a growing industry movement.


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