I had the pleasure this morning of speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for a panel on Innovative Advocacy (cohosted by Adfero).
While much of the discussion centered on best practices and ideas around (what seemed to me to be) more traditional advocacy, I tried to add some of my thoughts on what might make for more effective non-traditional advocacy and outreach. Speaking in public is always useful exercise for me, and, as is often the case, my thoughts are better organized after speaking than before.
The following is an update of what I've been up to recently, in several different areas...Continue reading
Google has been working with federal agencies to help them ensure that their data are accessible through search engines. Many government databases providing critical information or statistics have existed for much longer than the current standards for public Internet accessibility, so the disconnect between search engines and public databases is understandable. There is a clear public benefit, however, when search terms like "Colorado census 1990", "federal childhood immunology standards", "Pennsylvania superfund sites", or "Congressional Record 1930 Stock Market" result in the information the searcher is obviously interested in--government information. (More after the break.)Continue reading
(From the Open House Project)
Broad access to fundamental data leads to compelling analysis. Here's a TED talk from Hans Rosling, where he gives a tour of the recent history of countries becoming industrialized, using visualizations built on data from the UN.
The history of representative democracy and government is waiting to be similarly told; here's a broad collection of data indexed on a world map, representing data sets about freedom and government (by Zachary Johnson). When these visualizations are easier to create, and free to those with an Internet connection, our collective ability to visualize societal trends and expressive freedom should continue to develop. What role will this play in shaping the continuing development of industrialized countries? Will a digital view of what we're up to lead to better policy?Continue reading
(from the Open House Project)
I'm hoping that we can demonstrate some enthusiasm for what happens in committee hearings, since they're so essential to the legislative process, literally determining the content of our laws and the extent of Congress's oversight. To that end, I've also prepared a brief pledge via pledgebank, where one can pledge to look to committees for legislative information, but only if Congress will meet us halfway and provide access to its proceedings.
You can sign the pledge by visiting pledgebank, or you can also be a signatory to the letter by leaving a comment here.Continue reading
This video speaks also to that cultural shift, discussing exponential growth of digital culture.Continue reading
One theme running through what we're doing here, in my mind at least, is to blur the line between the explicit and the implicit, or, put differently, to make evident those things which were only implied. Effective data availability is certainly a case of this. Every time there is government information that is publicized in that satisfying-due-diligence, html, doing-as-we're-told, this-is-the-full-extent-of-our-authorization, only available in a reading room at 2:30 PM on Wednesday sort of way, well, that's an example of the implied. That data is only public by implication, since there is a significant barrier to it's effective use, reuse, access, or timely updating.
I'm loving the conversation about debate transcripts that Josh just posted about, because it's a great example of information becoming increasingly public, even though it was in plain sight all along. All public televised debates are, by their nature, quite public. The transcript or video/audio, however, has been less available, so much that the battle over their fair use continues even now. Despite this struggle, innovative presentations of this most hotly contested, most scrutinized of public appearances are popping up with increasing frequency. Josh's post took the speaking time from the NYT and calculated the statistical correlation between candidates' time speaking and their poll ranking. I just came across this tool (application?) that allows for all sorts of user-defined analysis of the debate transcript. You can see, explicitly, how many times the candidates said a term of your choice, and the text from the transcript is available right along with it. This is the sort of thing that we're lucky enough to witness developing, as long as the data that drives this sort of innovative presentation stays open and available. (more after the jump.)
I recently learned that the House is actively considering a redesign/upgrade of their public vote posting procedures, in terms of the format and functionality of the Clerk's House floor votes area.
I'd like to hear what sort of ideas and priorities everyone has about how one can interact with votes data. This is important from two perspectives, the data perspective and the citizen perspective.
The following video is a TED talk by Nokia researcher Jan Chipchase, whose blog I read regularly. He discusses mobile phone research and design in a broader context of international culture. While he doesn't explicitly discuss politics, the ideas he introduces about the rapid evolution in the ways in which we experience technology have big implications for the ways in which we'll experience information and government.Continue reading
Via the always great info aesthetics, Michael Wesch, a Kansas State professor, has created a new video. He waxes inspirational about such familiar topics as reference structure, ontology, freeform categorization, tagging, crowd sourcing, Digg, and netvibes. This video introduces the concepts behind the new ways in which the Internet is becoming useful, using the forms in which information is presented in order to present information (making for a productive combination of form and content, much like the phenomena he describes).Continue reading