A couple of days ago, I signed in to the Norwegian Government's citizens' portal Minside (myPage) for the first time. myPage gives me access to information about me, that is registered in some of the Government registers. I can also use simple governmental services relating to healthcare and student loans. This is a great start, I hope the scope of the services widens and made more relevant for me.
Santa was particularly kind this Christmas, he sent an XBox 360 down the chimney! Joining my kids in playing FIFA 2007, I was struck by the advanced user interface AND the deftness these children displayed in manipulating the software controls to configure the games, teams or players etc. (Besides being able to configure strengths and stamina of the players, one can even configure the way a player celebrates after scoring a goal!!). Anyway, I attempted to contrast the two user interfaces - FIFA 07 and the citizens' portal (minside). Even though they serve different purposes, I sensed this HUGE gap in expectations that citizens of the (not so distant) future will have to citizen (or consumer) portals.
That gamers hardly ever read manuals, nearly always skip through instructions (almost telepathically) and demonstrate an astonishing multi-tasking capability makes for some really interesting design challenges -- not just the user-interface but also the content and quality of the service.
The citizens' portal is a great start, but has a long way to go... for that matter consumer portals from service providers like my insurance company, or my bank or energy supplier have an equally long way to go. Or could this be a cue for the "new intermediary" -- a service broker that aggregates these services? And then when I have customised these services using tools provided by this "new intermediary", could my preferences serve as personalisation criteria for other services?.. and Amazon-like user experiences. Utopia? I hope not! Maybe businesses and government should take a closer look at the trends of online gaming, sharing of preferences and social bookmarking. We are probably just scratching the surface of something that can be very, very disruptive.... and exciting!