Why is the Grateful Dead like USSOUTHCOM when it comes to open government?

Despite contemporary wisdom that traditional journalism is in decline, the 150+ year-old publication known as The Atlantic hasn’t lost its edge for writing substantive and thoughtful news commentary. I love this month’s article, Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead, where Joshua Green argues that the Grateful Dead pioneered Internet business models before there was an Internet.

If you are interested in understanding how open and collaborative communities form across distances, look to the legions of Deadheads who connected, followed and enabled one of the most culturally and financially successful bands in history. The Grateful Dead gave their music away for free and it elevated demand, innovation and participation.

This same phenomenon is what the Obama Administration is striving for with open government – give the data away freely and allow innovation and participation to follow.

Introducing Sunlight Live

As the Open Government Directive was announced in a live webcast back in December, Sunlight tried something a little different by covering the event live in a variety of formats at once.

As is a norm around here, we basically just got a lot of people in a room, tried a bunch of stuff and paid attention to what seemed to work. At the end of the announcement we simultaneously had a tweet stream from across the open government community going, a live blog, and a Google Wave. We threw the obligatory word cloud at it, sent email blasts, and followed up with blog posts about the Directive’s many components.

It was fun and seemed to be pretty effective. And it also got us thinking …

A Peace Corps for Programmers

The federal government should fire me. Like the thousands of other contractors who develop software for government agencies, I am slow, overpaid, and out of touch with the needs of my customers. And I’m keeping the government from innovating.

In recent years, the government has become almost completely dependent upon contractors for information technology (IT). So deep is this dependency that the government has found itself in a position that may shock those in the tech industry: it has no programmers of its own; code is almost entirely outsourced. Government leaders clearly consider IT an ancillary function that can be offloaded for someone else to worry about.

Should government outsource long-term or crisis-related social media?

Just noticed this contract solicitation submitted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a ‘professional media services company with experience and reliability in the deployment and delivery of professional broadcast transmission equipment and crews to various locations … used during pre- and post-declared federal disasters to support the OEA in its mission to prepare and disseminate information to the public.’

Having an outside contractor be heavily responsible for this role detaches the agency from its mission-critical work. I can understand services related to training and establishing processes that can then be left for agency employees to execute, but on-call assistance? Long-term or crisis-related social media and outreach should be the agency’s core focus.

What do you think?

An emblem for open government

As we’ve written about quite a lot so far in 2010, we are launching a national campaign to make government more open, transparent, and ultimately: accountable.

Today, we’re excited to put out one of the most important parts of building this campaign: the “mark” that will be emblematic of what we as an open government community stand for.

Gov 2.0 guide to cloud computing

Cloud computing is a computing model that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. It enables convenient, on-demand access to a shared pool of computing resources, which may include networks, servers, storage or software applications.

GovRx: Prescription for immigrant healthcare

Regardless of nationality, people from all over the world are treated in American hospitals. You don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to purchase private health insurance in the U.S. nor do you have to be a citizen to pay to see a doctor. The U.S. has a private healthcare system that is open to everybody, who pays.

Software isn’t a skycraper

Michael Daconta at Government Computer News has posted a brief call to arms for the software industry. Here’s the gist:

Although I am a believer in free markets and the benefits of competition, industry has a responsibility to work together on the foundational layers to build security, quality and reliability from the ground up to advance the professionalism of the field. In essence, the information technology industry must emulate other engineering disciplines, or technological disasters and cybersecurity holes will worsen.

7 ideas to get more open government ideas

Someone secure the ideas.gov domain before a squatter does, because Uncle Sam is open for suggestions. While there are great ideas and engagement, there no doubt could be more activity. Whether it’s the White House or a major media firm wanting to do good, a solid PR effort would go a long way in getting more citizen interaction.

Here’s some ideas to get more open government ideas.

Minds in the Cloud: Government gets its head right

FedScoop has launched Minds in the Cloud, a new cloud computing video series featuring ‘technologists from the government, non-profit, and private sectors discussing their views on the importance of the cloud.’ Initial interviews include U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra and NASA CIO Linda Cureton. The series will run once a week for 25 weeks and is sponsored by Intel and Microsoft.

Gov 2.0 Expo: Game on, baby

Gov 2.0 game on, baby.

Gov 2.0 Expo registration is officially open, and I’m feeling much better since my last post. With all this Open Government Directive stuff flying around, Feds are scrambling and no one here at the White House cares who tweets where anymore. This morning I saw a Secret Service guy on his smoke break DMing Willie Nelson (@willienelson) from the White House roof. Gigglegate really got things going, but Gov 2.0 Expo will …

Bring.

Down.

The.

(White) House.

NASCAR.gov: Should corporate logos be on government sites?

While visiting many government Web sites since working on GovFresh, I occasionally see a vendor’s corporate logo. I can understand usage when embedding widgets, especially free ones, or incorporating social media icons to communicate to the public how they can connect with them. What’s not clear to me is the usage related to taxpayer-funded vendor services.

Are there other examples of vendor logos on government sites? Are there regulations around this? Is this appropriate? If so, in what circumstances?

The 3 phases of citizen idea platforms

The open government movement has spurred lots of interest in agencies becoming more transparent to citizens. As a result, most federal agencies have launched “open” pages that allow anyone to submit ideas for their agencies.

While we laud these efforts as a good first step, there is more that needs to be done in order for these initiatives to reach their full potential.

Crossing the Gov 2.0 Chasm

Geoffrey Moore’s classic Crossing the Chasm is Silicon Valley’s manual for getting a tech product to market. Its straightforward subtitle, ‘Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers,’ should compel every Gov 2.0 enthusiast to read it. The movement would be well-served to understand how to better pitch the effort, because it’s the only way the great work being done will resonate with average citizens.

How open was Obama’s YouTube interview?

Earlier this week, President Obama took questions from YouTube via CitizenTube. The event was part of an effort to crowdsource citizen questions to the president after his State of the Union speech. According to YouTube, 772,350 votes were cast on 14,456 questions from 64,969 people.

5 government sites using Drupal effectively for open government initiatives

By now, most people in the Gov 2.0 community have heard of Drupal, the popular open source social publishing system powering close to 500,000 websites ranging from big government to Britney Spears. Drupal has seen steady growth from its inception as a Belgian grad student’s experiment in 2001 to one of the most heavily used open source content management systems in the world, downloaded by a quarter million people per month. A growing trend the Drupal community is following closely this year is government interest in the platform to further open government initiatives and broaden adoption across government.

Does gaming have a place in government?

Part of our research focus at Manor Labs is to discover new ways of communicating and engaging the public. The following two concepts came out of that research.

The new form of social network-based online gaming has become all the rage on popular social networking sites. From a government standpoint, we have determined that these platforms are distractions and subsequently block them from use by our employees. However, let’s propose a new thought; what if we used these tools to educate and engage our public?