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First we brainstormed best and worst experiences with Government data:

Frustrations with Open Government

  • IE4 required to use election website (2010)
  • Opaque development leading to preventable problems (e.g.
  • Owners/stakeholders hoarding or being secretive with information
  • Closed source voting software (Diebolt/Eagle machines)
  • Provided government data being provided online but nearly impossible to extract into a useful form.
  • Metadata being removed from online published information that existed in original documents.

Best experiences

  • Paying traffic fines (local)
  • GIS Website and Information
  • California Voter Guides
  • Oakland, See/Click/Fix to fix potholes
  • Immediate disclosure requests (24 hour response time, 10 days maximum)
  • Eviction mapping to show lack and losing of affordable housing
  • Public Transportation mapping
  • Information Disclosure Requests
  • Saflii
  • Larry Lessig
  • Sunlight Foundation

Ambivenlent experiences

  • Mapped crime data in Durham (drives property values, police coverage)
  • Shot Spotter: Targets gunshots city-wide. Provides security, but microphone privacy concerns.

Once these specific examples were defined. We abstracted them into concepts.

Abstractions of Bad experiences

  • Proprietary software
  • Organizational problems
  • Lack of tech savviness
  • Lack of actual information or research

Abstractions of Good experiences

  • Defined and well-known user stories (focus)
  • Simple/straightforward (don't get creative!)
  • Standardization
  • Education (Public information reduces violation)

Abstractions of Ambivalent experiences

  • Reflects existing inequalities

Reading recommendations

Recommendations for Background Reading on Open Government

  • "The Open Organization" by Red Hat
  • "San Fransisco Sunshine Ordinance" Ordinance Code 67 is the gold standard in information acts
  • Contact or interview Megan Smith (White House CTO), Jennifer Pahlka (Code for America)
  • Sunlight Foundation (what is left of it, shut down but transitioning)
  • The Internet Archive

Miscellaneous notes

  • Raw "weather data" published online by governments is great
    • Businesses then spring up around analyzing/delivering that information to the public
  • In South Africa, you can't ask for related "information" you can only ask for existing "documents".
  • In California, you have information requests, which includes raw data or records.