Italy: Land of Saints and Pagans

In Italy they have two types of National Holidays, didn’t y’know?

Religious Festivals and Pagan Festivals.

Yep, either you’re destined for Sainthood, or you’re one of those ancient polytheistic heathens that hasn’t seen the light yet.

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Italia.it: Brief synthesis

Originally posted (in Italian) March 22

For the benefit of the “newbies”, a brief synthesis of the whole story:

On March 16, 2004 the then government, presided by Silvio Berlusconi, within the “Fund for financing of strategic projects in the IT sector”, passes the “Choose Italy” project.
The project proposes to relaunch the Italian tourism industry in the world and as a central issue of this action it requires the realization of a web portal on the Internet:
http://www.italia.it. Please note that tourism in our Country is a fundamental business and that it contributes for about 12% to our GDP.
The actual total cost of this operation is still a mystery: what is certain, though, is how on the whole, through several legislative measures, 45 + 9 million euros (more than 100.000 million old liras) have been in time set apart for this use.

The operational management of the project is delegated to a public company that answers to the Presidency of the Council, Innovazione Italia (Sviluppo Italia Group) that proclaims a European tender with a restricted procedure.
On 4th July 2005 the bidding is won by a temporary consortium of companies comprising IBM, ITS and Tiscover for 7.850.000 euros + VAT (about 18.000 million old liras).
Within three months the web portal should be on-line and offer a national booking platform and a first series of contents.

Further measures of the then Minister of Innovation and Technologies Lucio Stanca establish the management of the project involving, in various roles, ministers and Regions.

On 11th April 2006 the government changes (Prodi), but the web portal is still not on-line; the jurisdiction over tourism matters goes to Vice President and Minister Francesco Rutelli, the one over technological innovation to Minister Luigi Nicolais. Some changes in the management of the italia.it project take place and explicit authority is given in order to make the portal and the new logo iT presentable for the 22nd February 2007 BIT (Italian Tourism Exchange).

On 22nd February the web portal is put on-line and it causes a sensational wave of criticism and complaints from the whole web world: the reasons are different and, let’s say it, all well-grounded and undisputable.
Minister Rutelli asks for a further year’s time “to improve” and involve at last and effectively the Regions, which, according to our Constitution, have full competence in the tourism issue.

It’s a shame that in July 2007 the contract expires and the web portal is what it is. “the project has so far required about 6 million euros for its proof of concept project and its first online version, but 35 million euros are still available, partly destined to the Regions for the implementation of regional portals and for the organisation of the central and external editorial teams, partly destined to the activities of completion, promotion and commercialisation of the contents.”

This way we’ve been pilloried for a month in the eyes of the public!

It’s a total folly, a webmonster, an unacceptable waste of public money that just cries out for vengeance.

Elementary democracy check: why sign the open letter to Prodi to clear things up on italia.it

Originally posted (in Italian) March 22, 2007

That’s how it works.

Some Italian laws establish, besides a basic good civic sense, that citizens have the right to access their Public Administration Acts.

Why? Well, the reasons are so evident they shouldn’t even need explaining: citizens work hard all day long, their job is quantified in a salary and a good chunk of this salary goes into the community public fund.
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Austria takes possession of the Adriatic Sea

News Flash Venice!

The Austrians have taken over possession of the Adriatic, in a daring and unexpected political move.

Read the details: Read more »

Vive le France!

After looking through some of the original documents form the feasability studies, I thought, well if France is the target of what this portal might become someday when it grows up, why not take a look. And I was amazed. Amazed at how the designers and makers of italia.it couldn’t have looked at it themslves.

Italy manages to make do with Italian, German, Chinese, and one solid English site (solid like a brick falling on your foot – written with questionable English language skills) with an uneven mixture of British and American usage characteristics.

The French have such a waste of a site: they have something like 42 personalizations between language and national cultures. And looking rather quickly and summarily at some of the English language sites, they are all different, like they might have actually put some forthought into the fact that someone coming from South Africa will have different interests than someone from the UK. WOW, what a way to throw away good money on overkill. Don’t you think?

Maybe more another time… now I’m depressed.

No news is good news

And its corollary (?):

Any news is bad news, at least when its our faithful Italy.It editorial staff making the news:

This just in:
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History of an Ialian Scandal #3

WARNING: this is an open post, a post in progress. Any additional information provided by the readers and any correction provided by the mentioned companies is welcome and will be included.
Previous episodes: Storia di uno scandalo italiano #1: gli albori, Storia di uno scandalo italiano #2: bandi, appalti, leggi e prenotazioni

In the last episode we were in July 2005: Innovazione Italia Spa – the company controlled by the government to whom was committed the management of 20 million euro for the development of the italia.it platform – wins the competitive bidding promoted by itself some months before.
We remind our redears that the bidding included, besides other stuff, the realisation of a booking online platform in ASP (in other words, a national centralised system for tourism reservations) and it also stated that the global platform should have been online after three months (october 2005).

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5 W’s

Who What When Where Why

the 5 W’s of journalism, as they are taught to every 4th grade elementary school student before the field trip to the Newpaper offices to meet with a reporter and see tomorrow’s (advertisement section of the) newspaper printed before spending the last hour learning to make those funky upside down boat-hats that the printers don’t need anymore because all the presses are electronic and super-clean and run by technicians with EE degrees and not printers with permanently inkstained fingernails.

But do our beloved italia.it staffers have any clue about this? NO!

Let’s sample some recent inkstains slopped onto newsrag (or the electronic equivalent)…

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Ci dispiace (We’re sorry)

Curious error that they teach you about in “Web Design 101”, usually round-about “Lesson 3: using templates to simplify your work”.

“grumpy teacher in the front of the room says gravely”:
When you copy a page to use it as a  template, make sure you change all pertinent information about the new page; be certain you don’t leave a title like “new page” or “insert page title here” in the published page.

Too bad it doesn’t seem like the staff of italia.it got past lesson 2 in the three years they had to prepare things for us…

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AAA Wanted New(s) staff for Major Tourism Portal

Geography optional
Grammar skills not necessary
Pay: commensurate with experience, starting at €20mil. per year
Start: a few years from whenever you can sign the contract, as convenient to you…

Sounds like a joke, but looking back it really doesn’t seem out of line with what has happened in the past few years with the Italian National Tourism Portal italia.it.

How else can you explain “improvements” that don’t really improve anything?

We’ve already complained about the “news” which isn’t really anything new and the news which randomly disappears and the generalized inaccuracies of the mapping skills of the italia.it editorial staff, but it seems that they are getting worse instead of better as things go on…

Let’s start with the home page that displays the title “Cosa accade in Italia” – “What’s up in Italy”. The English section is still like we saw it in our previous rant, but the Italian side is being diligently worked on…let’s take a look:

Update 9 March, h.8.30 the Events map once inside the site is empty again (Italian section – the English hasn’t been “updated” yet)

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