Getting real improving government — an update

I was at the Personal democracy Forum (PdF), where I heard a lot of people talk about serious progress in online grassroots democracy and fixing government, particularly in Washington. (Check for some reports.)

A lot's happening that the mainstream media never covers, so here's something big from PdF, a few things from Aneesh Chopra, the chief technology officer for America.

He points out that over the last year or so, we're seeing the emergence of serious efforts to provide better customer service to citizens and to save money for higher priorities.


Another lesson from BP

What does the oil spill tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico teach us about the privacy dilemma of the 21st century?

The ocean is being spoiled, along with the birds and the fish and the people, the nature all around, by BP’s avoidable accident. The powerful United States government is stymied because it relied on the wrongdoer to correct its wrongdoing. Oil drilling technology is so complicated that the government relied on BP’s technology to cure its accident. By the time it does — if it ever does — the immense damages already incurred will grow exponentially.


Real eGovernment from CrisisCommons re: oil spill

Oilreporter The folks at are a global network of grassroots volunteers who are passionate about and effective at using open tech to really help people in times and places of crisis. They're the real deal.

They just launched, which is a way for people and responder groups to use the new tech to figure out what's going on in the big Gulf of Mexico oil spill, maybe help with cleanup.

Here's more, in their own words:

Oil Reporter was launched by CrisisCommons as an open data initiative to encourage response organizations to use mobile technology, geolocation and open data for greater information sharing and situational awareness during the Gulf Coast oil spill response and recovery. This initiative provides response organizations with an opportunity to create their own Oil Reporter mobile app, track their own data submitted by volunteers, add data elements to the open API and tap technical assistance from San Diego State University help aggregate and visualize data into useful products and tools.


Will 2010 be the new 1517?

I've been looking for lessons from history regarding social media, and found a nerd/policy wonk partnership that was enormously successful.

Turns out, we had this nerd Johannes Gutenberg, who invented mass media, via the printing press, but it really didn't go anywhere for a long while. That's much like the Internet, which was around decades before it really took off.


Stepping up: Silicon Valley Partnership: The Innovators Fund

OK, the deal is that our country is about helping others out in a culture of trust and generosity. I'm thinking like the Marshall Plan of 60 years ago, a great expression of shared values that also prevented a lot of extremism and built markets.

Me personally, I feel that we should be that "shining city on the hill."

Here's a new first step in that direction, with some very minor involvement from me. I'm guessing my focus will be on the evolution of large-scale grassroots involvement via social media.


Veterans Affairs Open Government Initiative

OPENGOV_VA_412  Okay, a general theme of the Open Government thing is that people in the private and public sectors can work together, sometimes using some new tech. That way, taxpayers get more effective service from the government, better customer service, ultimately getting what we pay for.

That's a really big deal for all Americans, particularly when it comes to helping out troops who risked everything for us, often taking a bullet for us.