Open government got a great spotlight at RailsConf this year, in Las Vegas. Dan Lathrop organized a panel on Government 2.0 there, and was kind enough to ask me to speak about Sunlight, and Wynn Netherland about his great work on TweetCongress. We had good turnout, and got plenty of questions. We even had a guy spontaneously write an IP address of an anonymous FTP server on a piece of paper, approach the podium to hand it to me, and promise us that there was raw legislative data on the other end.
Video of the panel has arrived online, thanks to Luigi Montanez, who was kind enough to record it on his Flip HD. Luigi also captured Wynn’s talk later during RailsConf about creating purpose-driven apps, entitled Build an App, Start a Movement.
Later that evening in the same room, we held a “hackathon”, but we got so many people (somewhere around 25) that it turned into more of a group brainstorming and discussion session, and at that we were very productive. Nearly everyone there, including many who had only just been exposed to the open government “scene” at the panel, had ideas to talk about. We couldn’t possibly have harnessed all that energy in the time we had, but some people stayed an extra hour and moved into an adjacent room so that we could keep talking. I eventually degenerated into a broken record that repeatedly requested people join the Labs mailing list and continue gathering momentum for their ideas there, and I hope that some of it bears fruit.
During the session, several people asked about how to best continue activity in their home city. I’ll post more about this soon, but a short answer is to simply look at the Open Government NYC Meetup group (and their active mailing list) to see a recent and exciting example.