I'm just back in DC after a terrific meeting we co-hosted with the Mitchell Kapor Foundation in San Francisco which was dubbed ODOG – Open Data, Open Government. It was a discussion with many of Sunlight's data-oriented grantees and our friends in the high tech community on how open data and open government can help citizens recreate trust in their elected officials through the magic of the Internet and the new technologies which make information easily understandable and accessible.
The idea for this meeting began many months ago around the time of Sunlight's launch. The initial thought was to bring together the leading providers of public-interest data from Washington and around the country (Center for Responsive Politics, National Institute on State Money and Politics, OMB Watch, among others) with the leading providers of new services, tools and practices that are transforming the web for an introductory session. We thought that collaboration between these two communities could yield huge results in ways to greater transparency in user-accessible ways. We hoped to see the light bulbs turn on in both the communities.
But the progress in the last few months has been so dramatic that the meeting became one of, not just introductions or convincing one side or the other of the huge potential to spread information and engage citizens, but a meeting of brainstorming and networking. As we look back on what we've catalyzed and initiated since we opened our doors in January, we are encouraged by how fast things can happen. The potential of the new initiatives that resulted from the meeting last Friday could dramatically increase citizen engagement (read "power") and open government.
We're still digesting the over-rich day of speed-geeking, new ideas, human spectrographs and new possible new efforts for Sunlight. We know we'll get a listserv started pretty quickly which will be available to all who are interested. Check back after the Thanksgiving holiday for details.