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Tag Archive: Government

Unveiling Sunlight Open Gov Events

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If you have been to any of our TransparencyCamp unconferences, the popular Labs Open House or happy hour then you know that we organize great events. And just as much as you support our events, we equally enjoy supporting other events -- especially when they involve bringing together a bunch of geeks like us who love cracking open code and making our government more transparent and open.

In that light, we are casting the net further by reviving our events platform to get you talking about your own event and assist you with sponsorship needs. For an idea about the kind of events that we are looking to engage in, here are a few that we have been a part of, so far:

Types of events we consider for sponsorship:

  • Hackathons
  • Tech Meetups
  • Tech Bar Camps
  • Datafests
  • CityCamps
  • Small tech conferences
  • Tech Happy hours
DSC_0058 DSC00811 Top Idea

Photos credit: Paul Schreiber, Howard Dy, dtraleigh.

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Government: Do You Really Need An API?

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As the term "API" has become more widely recognized through its ubiquity in social media and other web services, its coolness factor has grown considerably, and has become something frequently called for from government.

But does government really need to rush around and make APIs for all of their stuff? Peter Krantz argues that offering direct downloads to bulk data is a much more scalable, simple, and sane solution in most cases.

You should go read his article, rather than just our summary. But specifically...

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You Gotta Speak the Language

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A long time ago, my grandmother-- born and raised in Albany, Georgia-- went to Germany for my brother's wedding. She'd never been outside the country before and was excited about the trip, and of course, her grandson's wedding. While she was there though, she had a bit of a problem communicating-- see, she didn't speak German. Her solution to the problem was instinctive but not logical-- just speak English loudly and slowly. Increase volume until there's understanding. One person she encountered over there responded to her by speaking German loudly and slowly.

Her response:

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Is Government a Data Wholesaler or Retailer?

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Imagine if Costco announced that they were going to take the Costco experience to Manhattan, and open up convenience stores across the the island. Further, imagine shopping at these new CostCo bodegas, all of 500 square feet, with your giant cart, selecting from what the CostCo bodega has to offer in this limited amount of space! At your local CostCo bodega you have to choose from either 400 rolls of toilet paper, 70 lbs of dehydrated mashed potatoes, or a 6 pack of giant boxes of cereal. That's pretty much all they could store in inventory at the CostCo bodega because they wouldn't have room in 500 square feet for anything else. And good luck carrying all that home!

Sounds absurd, doesn't it?

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Where are the Government Web Developers?

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Where are the web developers in Government?

Are you a web developer who works for a non-defense related federal agency? Not a contractor, but actually employed by the Executive Branch of Government? If so, I'd like to meet you. Because I'm beginning to think you don't exist. USAJobs tends to agree with me, too. From what I'm able to gather, the entire federal government is hiring a total of 6 "IT Support Specialists," which look like cleverly disguised network administration jobs and "off the shelf software management" jobs.

To be specific, what I'm looking for is:

  1. A web developer (Someone who knows Python, ASP.NET, PHP, Django, Ruby on Rails, alongside HTML and CSS)
  2. Who doesn't work for a contracting firm, but is instead employed directly as a full time employee by a federal agency who
  3. Builds user facing federal websites, and
  4. Does not work for defense related agencies.

I've met strategists, managers, new media directors, bloggers, even "architects," but not a single developer. I've met lots of government contractors who work as developers as virtual FTEs for the Government. And granted, I don't have much contact with the Department of Defense-- I'm sure deep within that organization there are developers building software for the government that keeps us safe. But outside of defense, are there any? Do they exist? I've asked around, and nobody can seem to point me in the right direction.

If you know of any, point me in the right direction, and let me know why they seem so rare in the comments.

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Redesigning the Government: Data.gov

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One thing we’ve been most excited about here at the Sunlight Foundation is the concept of Data.gov. Due later this year, new federal CIO Vivek Kundra will release a new central repository for government data and research. And while in this series we traditionally re-design federal websites, we thought we’d actually take the opportunity to design data.gov right off the bat to show you all what we’d like to see happen.

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