Q & As


see to-do-lists for all the headings below
Steering Committee

The Steering Committee will need a small secretariat and an address (suggest a room at the Department for Education and Employment or at the Department for Culture?). Committee members would give their time pro bono but a small budget for operating costs will be necessary. Millie Mail is a public service and it is proper that these costs should be borne by central government.

Members are characterised below by role with indicative names - no one has been approached at this stage:

  • Chair. Role is to vouchsafe the independance and integrity of the service. government liaison (possibilities: Charles Clarke - minister for lifelong learning, David Puttnam, etc)
  • Citizenship overview. (possibilities: Fabian Society person, Roy Jenkins, etc)
  • Literacy overview: (possibilities: any children's writer)
  • Youth appeal: A TV star
  • ICT in learning overview: (Prof Stephen Heppell)
  • Transport overview: (possibility: Neil Kinnock (European Commissioner for Transport)
  • Curriculum and standards and overview: (possibility: Prof Michael Barber, Head of Schools Standards and Effectiveness Unit, DFEE)
  • Sponsor's overview: (possibility: any Oracle nominee)
  • Senior Administrator (a civil servant)

Local administration

In addition to the central Steering Committee there is a need for auditable model of identity allocation. In the Uk the two best records of children are the school Form 7 'on roll' register or the Family Allowance register. Some form of local administration needs to link these registers to the Millie Mail database. At this stage it is envisaged that this function will be performed by Post Office Counters with an initial allocation role and then a secondary role maintaining the register ("I've lost my password"). These secondary services could be paid for at a marginal cost rate agreed with the Post Office. Although the Post Office stands to gain considerably from this new role in cyberspace (so to speak) if they are not keen we can instead use the schools - advantages: probably no marginal costs would be charged, allocating teacher addresses would be straighforward, disadvantages: makes the system a school rather than a community / family system and not all children attend school.

Support materials

Millie Mail users will ideally carry a card (barcoded?) with their identity (but not password) encoded on it. This would enable them, for example, to register for additional mailed information as they visit museums or galleries. The cards are not essential but if we adopt them they have an associated costs which may be met by sponsorship?

Millie Mail will need

  • a printed paper welcome pack.
  • an extensive help area in the Millie Mail web site

it is debatable whether Millie Mail will need a physical call centre or help desk - the intention is not to offer service provision (which is a commercial market we do not want to interfere or compete with) and is is this "my modem won't connect" support that a call centre would mostly address. Some debate is needed here...

Some liaison with service providers will help them - for example in programming a Millie Mail pathway into their call centre response routes

Naming convention

initial debate over naming convention included that Millie Mail should include:

  • children's email identity should not include anything that will become outdated: the school name, the local education authority, whatever. These attributes will of course reside within the database so that a school might easily mail all its students but the principle is that children keep one identity and it does not change (just like their real names!)
  • there should be a notion of overlapping communities (school, project team, class, LEA, sports clubs, etc) with a clear way to build internal rules and practicies. Thus these community attributed should be identified but not be part of the name itself (any more than real names do).
  • to differentiate all the John Smiths and Gupta Patels we will need identifiers - maybe not in a way that could be "discovered" by an outsider seeking to guess a childs ID: thus name pair pair pair would work well and be easy to memorise for the user:
  • we do need to address the issue of alliasig from and to other mail addresses with some urgency. My own feeling is that we would accept mail blanket forwarded to millie mail but not allow blanket forwarding out from it.

Central Server provision

See features for software features but the important details are that Millie Mail is web based, accessed from any computer, with any IP savvy OS, with any browser software, anywhere.

The web browser offers web based mail but a number of other specific functions like a personal address book, interr-elationship with other members of your varous communities (school, sport, family etc).

Model of sponsorship

In the UK the service is sponsored by Oracle. Their name is directly and primarily associated with the service (as for example might be the case with Worthington and the League Cup in soccer). We would speak of Oracle Millie Mail. However the sponsors role is much more important in this case because they are also prime technology consultants.

In answer to "what is in it for Oracle" there are four declarations:

  • It raises Oracle's profile in a ubiquitous fashion
  • It clearly illustrates the benefits of a thin client model - certainly of the considerable value added by the server - in accordance with Oracle's mission statement
  • It demonstrates the power of Oracle's technology
  • and differentiates Oracle as a company that delivers on promises ("we can and do...")

Oracle would reserve their future ability to seek sponsorship from the service for those beyond full time education in a way that would make the service cash neutral in marginal cost terms after some fixed period of time. This is clearly not a business case for a revenue raising service, it remains a public service in design, regulation and intention.

Marketing, PR

There is work to be done in PR with:

  • all media: TV, education press, computing press, radio, etc.
  • service providers
  • interested parties like the National Association of Advisors for Computers in Education (NAACE)
  • families
  • the government (through No 10), individual departments and ministers (Departments for education and Employment, for Culture, for Trade and Industry etc. and interested or influential individual politicians

pre-release of embargoed information needs to be carefully managed in line with the project timing schedules.

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