OpenGovernment.org blog post on VoxPopuLIIDecember 5, 2011 - by David Moore
Back in July, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the prolific info-sharer Rob Richards re: our work on OpenGovernment.org. It was remarkably gratifying to have our mission articulated by Rob, with his depth & breadth of #opengov knowledge — he intuitively understood our premises of walking site visitors up the “chain of engagement” and “transparency with teeth”. A quick peek at his micropublishing feed gives a sense of his sprawling intellectual capacity & e-participation library.
(Images at right & below: bill pages on OG, cleaner UI & libre data & open-source engagement tools. The latter image, SB11, is the Wisconsin freedom of association bill covered so prominently in the news this year.)
When Rob asked me last month to contribute a blog post on “OG” for VoxPopuLII, a legal research blog he co-edits with Judith Pratt, I was of course pleased to have another informed venue for encouraging use of our free & open-source public Web resources. I’m always looking for chances to shout-out our OpenGovernment data partners — thx OpenStates, NIMSP, PVS, and hopefully soon, MAPLight & LittleSis & Geoserver software & more. I rarely miss an opportunity to encourage open-source remixes of OG (developer hub) and point supporters of our mission (radical transparency at every level of government) to the many ways in which they can help us grow. Link to the whole post.
Last, I’m glad to have put together this bullet—point list of academic / expert-informed evidence driving home (or reinforcing, to level off the rhetoric a bit) the proposition that open data & deliberative democracy result in greater engagement w/ government and better policy outcomes:
To briefly run through more academic or data-driven research on the public benefits of #opengovdata and open-source Web tools for civic engagement (not intended to be comprehensive, of course, and with more caveats than I could fit here) :
- Tiago Peixoto of the World Bank — @participatory on micropublishing — lots of academic studies
- David Eaves, open data activist based in Canada — see also Open Gov Data camp (summary, official)
- “Open Data is Civic Capital: Best Practices for ‘Open Government Data’”, essay (rev. Jan. 2011) by Joshua Tauberer, our longtime data partner behind GovTrack and part of the new POPVOX team in the #gov20 startup landscape
- Wiki Government — book by Prof. Beth Noveck — and Open Government — book by O’Reilly Media, edited by Daniel Lathrop & Laurel Ruma.
- My #opengov curated list on Twitter (@ppolitics).
- Civic Software Index, crowdsourced spreadsheet coordinated by our terrific allies abroad, OKFN and MySociety (primarily UK — and PPF’s primary inspiration to create OpenCongress in the U.S.)
- Various allied non-profit organizations and data partners listed in the footer of PPF’s homepage, especially Sunlight in D.C. and CivicCommons (also based in NYC — with a deeply rich wiki of #opengov resources)
Thank you to Rob & Judith for the invitation & editing my drafts without hassle — I hope it’s interesting and useful to legal researchers & academics seeking to access bill & vote information in state legislatures. Drop me a line to let me know what you think of it, david at ppolitics orgg will work or on the update service:
ppolitics</a> & <a href="http://www.twitter.com/open_gov">open_gov. Especially eager to hear from any researchers who have used OG to find bill text or connect-the-dots between votes & campaign donations – we have big plans to make the site ever-more-powerful & meaningful & easy-to-use, all libre content for peer-to-peer watchdogging of elected officials. Don’t forget that if you live in one of the six states in this beta version (CA, LA, MD, MN, TX & WI) that you can find your state & federal legislators simply by entering your zipcode in the center of the OG homepage or our open API (still in development). If you’re in a position to support our open-source, public-interest work with a (tax-exempt) donation, or you’re in touch with a charitable foundation, please feel free to circulate our non-profit funding prospectus (.pdf). Background on “what we have & what we need” from March 2011 on the OG Blog.
Looking ahead to next year on OG, I’ll end with some metrics from my post: “With limited outreach and no paid advertising or commercial partnerships, OpenGovernment beta with its six states will have received over half a million pageviews in its first year of existence.” Read “Researching U.S. State Legislation” on VoxPopuLII.