What does Open Government Mean to You?


Open Government

Open Data to Open Government
Open Government is not new. The Magna Carta was created in England in 1215 as a Charter to check the power of the monarchy. That the French translation less than 5 years later from Latin to vernacular speech might arguably be hailed as one of the first acts of "open government" in Western Civilization.

One may argue that this desire for plurality and dialog that was codified into English law and tradition is actually of Anglo Saxon origin and therefore the descendant of an earlier tradition. One might also tongue-in-cheek say that the Magna Carta was not in machine readable format therefore not "open data".

These terms underscore my point. "open data" is not "open government" any more then a street is public transportation. One makes the other possible but it is only a necessary and not sufficient condition.

Open Government when it works is the shift in the paradigm of how government interacts with it's citizens. Our governmental processes were developed in the era of pencils and paper. The immediacy of a reaction on the part of the government to a situation was local and not timely. Government processes have changed little since the Industrial Revolution. This is not to say that government should be criticized. In the West, most of our institutions and places of work are built around the factory paradigms of the 18th and 19th century manufacturing economies of the United States and England.

We can see the gradual shift in the work paradigm from 9-5 desk jobs toward a more fluid "just-in-time" work model of connectivity from anywhere to anywhere. Education is also breaking the model and evolving into a distributed real time environment albeit slowly.

Open Source and Open Government This is my response to a question posted by Jason Hibbets on OpenSource.com (December 5, 2012). Several open data and open government pundits responded to his question and there were some interesting responses: http://opensource.com/government/12/11/defining-open-government#comment-11032

My response was this:

"I just returned yesterday from the USAID Development Data Jam in Washington DC. Several federal and private sector pundits on open government, open data and big data gave their visions of what is possible with open government. I took several lessons away from that meeting. "Open" in Raleigh is about changing the model of interaction between our citizens and our government. The manufacturing-industrial model of policy making wherein the constituent had little influence on the policy maker(s) is being transformed into a rapid, agile, iterative collaboration. This is more than open data and more than big data. This is about adapting to the way humans interact with each other today versus 100 years ago."
I plan on publishing my notes from the USAID Data Jam in the next few days. I was pleased to see Jason ask the question and the thoughtful answers from the folks that answered.


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