X-bykes and eGovernment

In an effort to stay only about a week or two behind Boing Boing, a few days behind Wired, and probably about 6 months behind at least one disdainful and bizarrely embittered sounding commenter beneath virtually every Wired story I’ve ever read online, I often read The Guardian’s Technology supplement. One regular feature is Newsbytes, a collection of links to disparate techie stuff that didn’t really merit a proper story but about which optimistic companies and PR people must have nonetheless sent press releases that week (what industry am I in again?). This is the usual kind of thing:

Power-assisted X-byke

Powabyke’s latest battery-powered X-byke has a compact Lithium Lite 36v battery disguised as a water bottle.
bit.ly/xbyke>>’

In other words, of limited interest and often baffling – I mean, for one thing, if the battery’s disguised as a water bottle where are you supposed to put your actual water bottle? Or are you expected to ride around looking twice as thirsty as other cyclists, despite only doing half the pedalling? Worse, what if you get the two bottles confused? Imagine licking a 9v battery, only four times tinglier – it’s a badly-named traffic accident waiting to happen.

And then you click on the link:

‘Today more than ever, people are thinking of ways to reduce their carbon footprint’

With an electric bike? Can you imagine that ideas session?

“Yeah, well, OK, we want to, like, create a greener mode of transport, right? So, I know, yeah, why don’t we, like, take, one of the most carbon-friendly modes of transport, yeah, and, like, make it electric? Cuz that’ll be, like, waaaay less polluting than petrol… Oh, and lets lob an X in there somewhere.”

“Yeah, an X! Perfect!!!”

And somehow this made it into production…

Also: X-byke? What was it before?

Anyway, that wasn’t the best Newsbyte. This next one, I can only think to describe as the technology news equivalent of a haiku (if you think of haiku writing as being the art of expressing an awful lot in a minimum of words):

Government guide

MyGuide is now providing online tuition in how to use government (including local council) websites.
www.myguide.gov.uk>>’

UK government websites are so badly designed and written that a website now exists to teach you how to use them… That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? If anything has received more damning criticism than that, I’d really love to see it.

Or actually possibly not, come to think of it.


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