If you’re reading this, you’re likely familiar with the terms open government, open data and open source. You probably understand how civic engagement is being radically transformed through these movements.
Therein lies the challenge: How can we reach everyone else, those who haven’t heard these terms and have little interest in civic engagement? Here’s what I think: Civic engagement is a bad brand. If we’re to capture the attention of more people, we need to change its brand for the better.
When most people think of civic engagement, they might imagine people in a community meeting somewhere yelling at each other. Or, maybe they picture a snooze-inducing municipal planning and development consultation. Who has time to fit that in with everything else going on in their lives? Will their voice even be heard? I think most people would prefer to invest their spare time on something they’re passionate about, not sitting in a stuffy meeting. (Though, if stuffy meetings are your passion, that’s cool too!)
That’s why I’ve adopted a different perspective: civic engagement as art. This was motivated by Seth Godin’s book, “Linchpin,” where he suggests that art shouldn’t only be thought of as fine art. Rather, he argues that art is a product of passion, and it is about creating something. And that’s what civic engagement is all about – creating something in your community that comes from passion.
I’m hoping that “Open” will introduce open government, open data and open source to new people simply because it is being done in a new way. My intention is to begin changing the civic engagement brand by having fun with it.
For example, I call myself an open government fanboy, so “Open” uses as many pop culture references as we could squeeze in. As a matter of fact, I call the film a “spoofy adaptation” of “The Matrix” – instead of the “real world” and the “Matrix,” we’ve adapted it to the “open world” versus the “closed world.” We also included nods to Office Space, The Simpsons, Monty Python and Star Trek. As a bonus, I’m hoping that these familiar themes and references will make it easier for newcomers to understand the opengov movement.
So, without further Apu (Simpsons fans will get it), I give you “Open” – the world’s first short film on open government, open data and open source. Enjoy!
The team behind “Open”
Writer/Director/Producer: Richard Pietro
Screenplay: Richard Pietro and Rick Weiss
Executive Producers: Keith Loo and Bruce Chau
Directors of Photography: Gord Poon and Mike Donis
Technical Lead: Brian Wong
Composer and Sound Engineer: GARU
Actors: Mish Tam and Julian Friday.
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