Computer-Supported Policy Analysis and the Future of the Profession

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I am involved in organizing a symposium and publication project reflecting on the career of my long-time supervisor and mentor Dr. Rod Dobell.

I had originally meant to stay in the shadows, but I will now be presenting an original paper with the super-long title of “From Massive Mainframes to Massive Data, Databanks to #OpenData, ‘As We May Think’ to Thinking Machines: Computer-Supported Policy Analysis and the Future of Practice.” This will be delivered at the symposium on August 20 2011.

The draft paper is a high-level survey of the application of computer technology in support of the policy analysis function in western governments over the post-World War II period, and points to possible future implications for practicing policy analysts arising from continuing technological developments and as the consequence of three emerging phenomena: the massive data era, the open data movement (something I’ve written on recently) and anticipated advances in artificial intelligence.

It is a very rough working draft, but the basic ideas have been set out. If you’re interested, it can be found here. Comments are really appreciated.


BC HST Referendum Prediction Pool

Update: A winner has been announced: see

A fundraiser and prediction game


As many of you know, voting in the BC HST Referendum closed on Friday August 5, and results will be announced on August 25. You may also know that the pollsters are afraid to predict the outcome, and estimates of voter turnout vary widely.

Partly out of an interest in prediction markets, and partly because I come from a long line of degenerate gamblers who will wager on anything, I’ve created a Prediction Pool for the referendum results.Can you correctly predict the result, and predict what the voter turnout will be?

Half the wagered amount will be donated to the United Way of Greater Victoria. The other half is yours to win.

The perfect game for political nerds … and those who will bet on anything not nailed down (I seem to know a lot of both types).

Game rules are at

Vote early and vote often. It’s for charity. And tell your friends – they aren’t as smart as you, and they’ll increase your winnings.