Open Government: State of the Confederation

Posted on March 26, 2015

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Richard Pietro gives us a rundown of Canada’s Open Government & Open Data movements. Since he considers himself a Fanboy of Open Gov, he’s using a classic movie, and a classic writing tool, to deliver his perspective…The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Check Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

State of the Confederation


By: Richard Pietro – Twitter

In my humble option, I’ve noticed three issues that are beginning to dominate the conversation within the Open Gov/Data community.
1. Adolescence
Although Open Gov/Data is nowhere near reaching critical mass, there are certainly more players involved than ever before. Academia, Government, Engaged Citizens, Industry, and the Media are now learning to work with each other in this space, and it’s creating tension.
puberty strikesI like to think that the Open Government and Open Data movements are going through the awkward stage of puberty. We’re kind of gangly with our bodies and we may be coming off as too arrogant or confrontational with our peers. There are things happening that we don’t really understand and we’re trying to find our place in the World.
…it’s a classic example of “Can’t see the forest for the trees”
Open Gov/Data are about collaboration, yet there are still some massive egos and turf wars hanging around. And I hope we can “grow out of it.”
2. The Old School
old memeWe haven’t really found the right way to communicate to the “Old School” about Open Gov/Data; That their way of doing things isn’t the way kids do it anymore. Whenever you talk about Open Gov/Data to the old school, you can almost hear an old man in the background saying “Those darn kids and their music!”
But, the old school is still ruling, and we are still living in their house. Sometimes they give us leeway, other times they send us to bed without supper.
3. Capacity building
I get this feeling that public servants a few years ago presented Open Data as a kind of panacea to solve all the World’s problems. A kind of “if you build it, they will come.” Problem is, I don’t think people are chanting the Open Gov/Data fight song as quickly as was expected, and now those public servants are forced to answer questions as to why that is.
NOTE: This is where I kindly remind the reader that I am not a public servant and only sharing my perspective (which could very well be wrong).
That’s why so many Canadian jurisdictions are holding Open Data Hackathon Contests. Luring potential developers with a reward. But, I don’t think that’s sustainable. Plus, as an Open Gov/Data purist, I think the results of these contests only represents just a small percentage of the potential of Open Gov/Data. I think the best way to build capacity is by integrating Open Gov/Data into the educational system. Not just from a technology perspective, but from a policy making perspective.

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