Gov 2.0 Event Favs – Content, Style or Both: Part 1

At the inaugural O’Reilly Gov 2.0 Summit and Expo, there was something at the event for everyone.  I refer to it as an “event” in singular because although they were billed as two events, they functionally flowed as one event, since very little of the content across the three days was duplicated and a large number of the attendees went to all sessions.

As I reflected in a previous post, I felt the event was fairly Silicon Valley, dot-com coder heavy, which is perfectly ok – it leaves room for new, unexplored topics for others to cover (like the enterprise-class focus of nGenera’s Government 2.0 members programs) and for future O’Reilly Government 2.0 Summits and Expos.

That said, I (like everyone) had some favs from the event. And here are some of them, which I’ve categorized entirely arbitrarily by content, style, or both. I’ll cover my picks in this post and two subsequent ones.

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: (especially for any of the presenters themselves or their fans that may read this post) – just because I listed you as a “style” favorite doesn’t mean I don’t think you have great content as well. It’s just that something about your style left a stronger impression with me. Likewise, on “content” favorites.

Content

Schuyler Erle (Entropy Free LLC) – http://unicefinnovation.org/ – I loved Schuyler’s enthusiasm, especially in facing the deployment challenges he described, but I was most taken with the technology content of his presentation. The products he described were developed as a response to the communication challenges that young people and development professionals face.

The range of these products extends from writing software for mobile phones and the web to building physical hardware. The commonalities between the products is that they are specifically designed for low bandwidth situations, built in collaboration with others and meant to improve the way people work and communicate.  I was very impressed with their solutions and their dedication to mission.

Joe Pringle (Forum One) – http://www.datamasher.org/ – Compared with many others who had the stage, especially on Day One, Joe was a very polished, confident presenter, but it was really the elegance and potentiality of the solution his team created with Datamasher that really took the day for me.

Datamasher.org example

Datamasher.org example

In some ways, it’s the simplest of problems: what would you get if you took dataset “A” and compared/contrasted (via Boolean operator) with dataset “B”?  

But, doing this with a tool that opens up the possibility for exploration and discussion is very powerful. I endorse the selection of Datamasher as the Apps for America 2 competition winner. 

Try it for yourself…it’s totally cool to fiddle with the data that your tax dollars financed! 

[Although in my example (in the figure), I could never quite figure out what conclusion to draw from the mash I created, which shows total political contributions divided by the number of new AIDS cases reported in the most recent year.  Something about South Carolina coming in 51st, i.e., with the lowest political contributions per new AIDS case, and it being the home state of Joe Wilson must be trying to tell  us something?] 

Philip Ashlock (The Open Planning Project )- http://openplans.org/ – As explained in comments at the event and on their website, technology can be a powerful tool for helping people work together, sharing best practices and enabling communities.  TOPP builds software, new media outlets, and other tools that bring democracy closer to its potential.

As I began seeing, within the space of a single day, that certain web services implementations began to look eerily similar, it was crystal clear to me that the work of an outfit like TOPP was important in promoting best practices, strongest code, a spirit of leverage among approaches, and common, high-value problem domains and use cases to be tackled. I hope their work and that of similar parties gets traction so that all Gov 2.0 producers can benefit.

Next time:  Style

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