I speculate that there's a gap to be filled with ways of working with data that aren't happening at the moment as far as I'm aware .
Isn't it exciting when you notice that ideas have taken on a life of their own? Not my ideas, to be clear.
Those moments when you catch a hint that similar conversations are happening somewhere else and you're hearing part of an underground transmission. Like a story being passed around from person to person before anybody actually writes the book.
Legacy IT is still a major problem that the GDS movement hasn’t really addressed. The data layer is still unreformed. It remains an unanswered question if the UK’s ‘service-layer down’ approach, the ‘registry-layer up’ approach of Estonia, or some totally different model will ultimately prove to be the best route to a transformed government.
Both legacy and data lack a place in the new orthodoxy, and in user centred design more broadly. That’s probably because they are difficult and require political capital. It’s hard to justify investment in digital infrastructure when the benefits come in the next electoral cycle or to another department’s budget.
There's a scene in 'Velvet Goldmine' where Christian Bale's character (a young, awkward glam rock devotee at that point in the film) points at his hero on the television and says to his parents "that's me! that's me that is!". I think the data layer is still unreformed! I think data lacks a place in the new orthodoxy and in user centred design more broadly! 
A new new orthodoxy?
I met with Leigh from the Open Data Institute this week. We spoke about this broad topic, and the conversation helped me on with my thoughts. Claire joined us, and suggested that 'data' is a decade behind 'digital' in terms of developing and embedding a multidisciplinary working practice. This resonated with me, and I've heard others suggest similar things in recent months (the underground transmission!).
I swear there's something here. Something distinct from 'digital', but complimentary and with porous boundaries.
Technology is about computers. 'Digital' isn't about computers but lots of people still think it is. Most people think 'data' is 100% all about computers but actually it's even less about computers than 'Digital'.
In this multidisciplinary data practice I imagine being good with computers is a secondary skill - a means to an end. The engineering piece for services can be done collaboratively with others, and I'd expect increasingly over time it will become less bespoke . If data lacks a place in that new orthodoxy maybe it's time to revisit some unfashionable roles, define new ones, and hire some librarians. Where I work we've got a couple of libraries. I'm a big fan of librarians.
So, maybe a practice featuring the full spectrum of data related roles, from the structural to the analytical.
A sort of infrastructure
In my second post I described the data I am most interested in, recognising that 'data' is a broad term which would benefit from more detailed definition:
- Reference data
- Master data
Accurate representations of my organisations' most complex entities and rules
that are derived through collaborative work with subject-matter
experts, appropriately maintained, and reflected in the small number of
systems we have that are necessarily specialist 
- Controlled metadata that enables discovery, aggregation, and re-use
- Any externally recognised structures or standards that increase the utility of my organisations' data on the web