Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
Communications Government United States News Technology

How To Build a Web 2.0 Government? 249

UltraAyla writes "With the announcement that President-Elect Obama will record his weekly address as a YouTube video to be posted at Change.gov, questions arise as to how an Internet-fueled candidacy based in part on a platform of government openness can begin to use technology to make government transparent. Aside from popular Slashdot policies, such as Net Neutrality, how do you think government (either in the United States or elsewhere) can best utilize technology to engage the public and make government more transparent and accessible?" Reader Rick Zeman points out a related New York Times story about how Obama will have to give up some of his communications gadgets because of the Presidential Records Act. Despite that, he apparently hopes to be the first US president to have a laptop on his desk in the Oval Office.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How To Build a Web 2.0 Government?

Comments Filter:
  • Web 2 government?

    Hot air, buzz words, no substance ...

    I fail to see any substantive difference from what is going on now. Besides, since it looks like convicted felon Ted Stevens might actually lose the election (good work Alaskans - now we're one for 4), the tubes are right out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by biryokumaru ( 822262 ) *

      Psh, if you want to quibble over semantics, why not just say: If Obama puts his laptop on his desk, does it become a desktop, or is it still a laptop?

      (Or is that just what Web 2.0 is? Everyone uses crappy laptops instead of desktops now?)

      • There shouldn't be a government of a few people telling the rest what to do and subjecting people to bad legislation from corruption and incompetence. Think of what could get accomplished if there were none of the three branches, simply a majority vote for what the people want the government to do in each region. Then there could be many advisory parties that are well educated in their field in order to suggest the best way to accomplish those desires. If a state government is implemented well enough, there

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Darundal ( 891860 )
          If the majority vote was the sole decider on every issue, with "advisers" giving people suggestions as to how they should vote, you will end up with heavily bribed advisers (moreso than congresscritters and other government drones), a constant barrage of campaigns with similar content to John McCains "Obama wants to give kindergartners comprehensive sex education" ad or the funny face net neutrality ad, and people voting for issues because they don't like to leave blanks on ballots. Or, in short, the curren
          • by Hojima ( 1228978 )

            For one, there would be too many advisers to bribe considering that it would be many organizations for each discipline, and then there would be many parties for the debates that each discipline has, and then there would be the plethora of people who would be certified advisers, as it could be a simple thing to obtain (simply getting a degree and then license for the discipline should be good enough). Then each party of each discipline can choose someone who is prominent in the field to be a representative t

      • The main differences between a laptop and a desktop are the mobility and the integrated battery powered UPS.

        Oh, right, and the desktop can contain water-cooled blazingly fast graphic cards, which you need for high-power gaming, but not much else. I haven't used a desktop in five years now, neither at home nor at work.

    • comm theory (Score:3, Insightful)

      to add a little comm theory to your point...

      technology doesn't fundamentally change communication (whether it be words, pictures, video, or audio). It may change the style and method of delivery (the 'channel' and 'code') but the content of what is being communicated does not change.

      'web 2.0' is a nothing term. some try to pin it down with a technical definition that is usually along the lines of 'web pages that automatically refresh' or somesuch, but the fact is, its usage is so broad that any effort to

      • Re:comm theory (Score:5, Interesting)

        by omeomi ( 675045 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @02:04PM (#25778611) Homepage
        unless your theory happens to be that of Marshall McLuhan, in which case the technology (medium) defines (is) the communication (the message)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The original definition of Web 2.0 in my view was just asynchronous data transfer - so you don't need to reload the whole page to get more information.
      • Re:comm theory (Score:5, Insightful)

        by daigu ( 111684 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @02:20PM (#25778709) Journal

        I'm sorry, but the medium fundamentally changes the message. One example among legions: a hand written thank you note on a good card that you took the time to mail after a job interview sends a completely different message than an email - even if the words used in both are identical.

        Spend some time thinking about the last time complex emotions were conveyed using television. Try listening to this interview [bobedwardsradio.com] with Neil Gaiman that has a brief discussion about A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where something works over radio that doesn't work over television or in a movie.

        Style and method of delivery are part of the content.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ScentCone ( 795499 )
        Obama's administration is going to re-open the channels of communication between the exec. branch and the populace.

        You're confusing "communication between" with "communication at."

        Do you really want a chief executive who has to wade through millions of messages sent to him? Or want, as a taxpayer, to pay for a staff of thousands who will sit there all day and distill down what they think are messages he should see or surf to? Come now. Saying that he'll use different mechanisms to broadcast his though
        • Do you really want a chief executive who has to wade through millions of messages sent to him? Or want, as a taxpayer, to pay for a staff of thousands who will sit there all day and distill down what they think are messages he should see or surf to? Come now. Saying that he'll use different mechanisms to broadcast his thoughts is a lot different than saying that he'll somehow be more communicated to than his predecessors. He's hired to be an executive, not an open-door representative. Executives who misunderstand that tend to be terrible leaders.

          You do realize that we would have had a much more effective government for the last 2 terms, right? It's inherently problematic when the legislature willfully works against the wishes and desires of the majority because they don't believe in doing so. In cases like that the people would probably be better off having the congress in gridlock. Same goes for the Presidency, the federal government is supposed to at least attempt to act in the people's interest.

      • technology doesn't fundamentally change communication (whether it be words, pictures, video, or audio). It may change the style and method of delivery (the 'channel' and 'code') but the content of what is being communicated does not change.

        Yeah, right.

        Just like the development of aluminum technology wasn't a fundamental change in transportation, since the purpose of a Boeing 747 and an iron horse steam locomotive are basically the same. It all comes down to just moving people and things over long distances, eh?

        Wake up! Communications has changed in a fundamental way. The Internet has now grown into actually being a World Wide Web, and that is very different from just being a supersized telephone exchange. It now has these very real charac

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @12:46PM (#25778001)
    The problem with accessible government is that no-one's interested. Even where there are dedicated TV channels (e.g. in the UK) hardly anyone watches them. Why's that? Because the work of government is almost 100% pure tedium. No-one wants to watch what happens in committee meeting - even if that's where the laws are actually made, nor do are they prepared to sit through hours of televised debate.

    If by accessible, you mean dumbing down the work of government to cartoon-form, with nothing more than a series of 5-second sound-bites, then good luck. But that's not government in action, it's a soap-opera.

    • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @12:57PM (#25778101) Journal

      Because the work of government is almost 100% pure tedium. No-one wants to watch what happens in committee meeting - even if that's where the laws are actually made, nor do are they prepared to sit through hours of televised debate.

      But the laws aren't actually made there, either, except in a few rare cases. The laws are written by lobbyists and decided upon in behind the scenes deals; the committee meetings usually just ratify the deals already made. And in those rare cases, the committee meets in closed session.

    • by caramelcarrot ( 778148 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @12:58PM (#25778111)
      I think the point is more that the tedium can still be documented on a medium that is ideal for large abouts of tedious stuff - the internet - and then the interesting bits can be found and talked about. See what the UK group OpenSociety has done with www.theyworkforyou.com , like the processing of The Hansard into accessable form http://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?pid=10068&pop=1#n4 [theyworkforyou.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Meccanica ( 980734 )

      dumbing down the work of government to cartoon-form, with nothing more than a series of 5-second sound-bites, then good luck. But that's not government in action, it's a soap-opera.

      I've always heard it called 'television news'.

    • How about we include people under the CTO office that are specialized in data visualization. Very dry, tedious data can be made both more accessible and more interesting if we had a few people in the government who knew how to make useful graphics. For example, a graphic illustrating the size of "earmarks" in government vs. the size of the 850 billion dollar bailout we just passed, the Iraq war, or just about any other pick-your-favorite-wasteful-spending demon, would have very quickly ended discussion ab

      • by xant ( 99438 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @01:55PM (#25778563) Homepage

        Actually, I just thought of another one: how about a visualization of the ways Congress and the President are spending their time. Group the time spent in various ways ("Bookkeeping", "military issues", "energy policy", "inappropriately texting interns"...) and allow us input on how the group as a whole spends its time. They work for us, goddammit, and we should get a say in what they focus on. I'm a boss at work, and when I think one of my engineers is spending too much time on a particular trivial task, I'll let them know what I think they should work on instead.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by roguetrick ( 1147853 )

        Graphics are actually one very heavily used thing in congress. Nearly every senator puts one up when they're talking about something and the reps like to put one up and hoot in front of it while throwing shit at each other. One of these days I hope a representative decides to put up a picture of Goatse.

        Anyway, I went off on a tangent. Point is, folks use graphs to prove their point all the time in government. Doesn't change the fact that nobody cares.

    • by omeomi ( 675045 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @02:08PM (#25778635) Homepage
      nobody is interested because 99% of it is BS anyway. Do you think listening to Bush's radio address will actually make you more informed about facts or about inane talking points that'll be repeated by news shows as "news" anyway? Give the public actual information and I think you'll find them more interested
    • by Eil ( 82413 )

      If by accessible, you mean dumbing down the work of government to cartoon-form, with nothing more than a series of 5-second sound-bites, then good luck. But that's not government in action, it's CNN.

      Fixed that for ya.

    • by BlueCodeWarrior ( 638065 ) <steevk@gmail.com> on Sunday November 16, 2008 @02:55PM (#25778965) Homepage

      Think of it like source code. Have I personally read the kernel code? Nope. Have other people? Yes. Did I gain a benefit from that? Yes.

      Not everyone has to be able to sit through every committee meeting. But all it takes is one person pointing out the interesting point for everyone to tune in to.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Roxton ( 73137 )

        Absolutely. The beauty of the community model is that there is always a small number of people willing to digest, integrate, and increase the availability of valuable information. Like Wikipedia, 90% of the contributions come from 10% of the participants, but the 90% still reap the benefit. That's known as the power law.

        It's off-topic, but let me just say that this is why I want academic journals opened up. I know there's a case to be made against it, and we'll have to deal with those concerns. But I w

    • Sounds like you've never watched the Taiwanese parliament "debate" on C-SPAN II. That's comedy gold, right there.

  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @12:54PM (#25778063) Journal

    What we need is a cloud computing government on a morph best-of-breed solutions platform to exploit efficient initiatives to envisioneer synergistic opportunistic public-private partnership solutions to national and global issues.

    Let's for a joint public-private-faith based coalition to design a mutual framework and pray that it works.

    • I find your new paradim aligns well with my plans. I would like to subscribe to your blog.

    • by curunir ( 98273 ) * on Sunday November 16, 2008 @03:10PM (#25779049) Homepage Journal

      You jest, but Government really is a legacy system, written ~230 years ago by developers who have long since moved on. The people who came after them have been generally fearful of making any substantive changes, opting instead for minor revisions and, when new features became necessary, generally attempting to follow the techniques in the original framework without really understanding why those development strategies were used in the first place.

      So what we have now is a maintenance nightmare. It was bad in 2000, but over the last 8 years, the government has relied almost entirely on contractors who have generally ignored any existing infrastructure and have re-written many things from scratch in languages that they've basically made up as they've felt the needed to. They've done this without any regard for stability, performance or maintenance going forward. They knew they'd be gone by 2009 and the problems they were leaving behind would have to be solved by other developers. As a result, we have one of the most resource hungry governments in the world, and the performance is pretty crappy. For example, there's a job that's been running for 6 years and still hasn't completed yet. No one is really sure what the job is supposed to do, but so far it seems that the only thing it's done is used a ton of resources to hack into another system and try to install another copy of our system in its place. The newly hired lead developer has indicated that he's planning to kill that job, albeit without the necessary '-9' flag, so that's hopefully going to free up some much needed resources.

      It's at this point that the managers in charge should start looking at best-of-breed solutions from the rest of the world and trying to implement them. There are much more efficient ways to get things done that what we currently have, and we should begin by choosing a much more proven, stable and performant platform on which to build our government. And we should shift our security focus partially away from the external threats that have so far been our main focus. Instead, we should look at trying to eliminate at least some of the viruses running in our current system.

      We need to face the fact that we've got the Windows Vista of governments. We had the Windows XP of governments before the last administration tried to entirely re-build our systems. They placed a priority on DRM and the appearance of security and generally built a system that requires more resources to run than we have. They've made cosmetic changes to distract people from realizing that the underlying infrastructure is pretty crappy. It may look current and modern, but at its core, it was written for an entirely different time and for an entirely different target audience. And its fundamentally unable to deal with the viruses that exist today (*cough*lobbyists*cough*).

      We should be looking at ways to run Socialism (the OS X of governments...very user-centric, less gets done but people are generally happier, though it's hard to figure out exactly why that is considering how much they're paying for it) or Libertarianism (the Linux of governments...almost nothing is done for you, but if you're determined enough, you can make it exactly what you'd like and have a lot more resources left over for doing the things you want to do). Both of those platforms hold more promise going forward.

      • You've got the right general idea, but the wrong analogy.

        The proper analogy is that the original government was like Unix -- small, elegant, efficient, and decentralized. As society has gotten more complex, we've grafted on more and more onto the basic framework, making it far more complex. But at the core, it's still the right way to do things.

        Windows Vista is Socialism -- an attempt to "cast off the past legacy of Unix" (analogous to Capitalism) and rewrite things to be all things to all users. And what you get is a gigantic resource hog that barely functions, but convinces people through pretty, shiny colors and pretty, shiny marketing that you have total freedom (e.g., "life without walls" or whatever their propaganda slogan is this month). And through ever increasing processing CPU power (/ever increasing debt spending), people believe that it works.

        OS/X is the freedom of Unix, but with an attempt to add a user friendliness to the process -- kind of like Obama (though the jury is out on how much he actually believes in freedom, but let's go with it). Linux is more like a Libertarian government -- total freedom, but total responsibility as well, and only a geek's view of taste and beauty (in other words, little taste at all).

        • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @05:37PM (#25780007) Journal

          The proper analogy is that the original government was like Unix

          Wrong still. The original platform was formed by committee, with compromises over features, scope and departmental subsystems roles (i.e. state's rights). It was based on compromises and feature creep. 10 new features, called the bill of rights, were added at the last minute when some user balked at adopting the platform as not user friendly enough. Since original deployment, the platform has been modified an number of times with features being officially added and removed. Other features have been extended, added or deprecated in often creative ways by super users (often referred to as "presidents" or SCOTUS). See previously mentioned bill of rights. There has been a growing tendency for the super user to have root access without sharing the password other power users, even though the original program called for decentralization of roles.

          HTH

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Wrong still. The original platform was formed by committee, with compromises over features, scope and departmental subsystems roles (i.e. state's rights). It was based on compromises and feature creep.

            You think Unix wasn't? Unix had plenty of compromises and plenty of modifications over the years to fix various things that weren't done right at the beginning. But at it's core, it had the right *philosophy*, which was what was guiding and influencing the features that were added.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I'm sorry to hear that you have no experience with modern Linux distributions. If you had, you would have seen a real world example of Linux kicking Vista's anaemic ass [youtube.com] in the GUI/Prettiness/Usability domains. (And this video is OLD. The disparity is MUCH greater now that KDE4 w/ Compiz-fusion has matured.)

          And lest you seek to spread such an absurd myth that Windows is "easier" than Linux, handing the average user two laptops with no OS, a copy of Vista to install, and a copy of a truly great Linux dis
      • by inKubus ( 199753 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @09:12PM (#25781325) Homepage Journal

        I would like to see some good version control. If you look at the congressional record, it's full of crap like "Strike out the sixth sentence of chapter 12, paragraph 348, replacing with: 'b. except where already addressed under USC 90.01.23'"

        WTF? I would like something like Trac where you can click on ANY statement in the US Code and see instantly:

        What changes have been made, over time
        Who sponsored the changes
        Who voted for, against, present
        Links to related code, as needed
        Public opinion related to the law
        Press releases by public offices/personel about the law

        All with a nice Google timeline kindof interface.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Add a Google Alerts type thing to that so I can be notified any time a bill is up for a vote by my representative and any time anyone proposes a bill on copyright law and I think we instantly make government a LOT more transparent and accessible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      What, no Beowulf Cluster?
  • by Renaissance 2K ( 773059 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @12:54PM (#25778065)

    I didn't realize, until reading this article, that law is what forced the presidents to remain unwired. I just always assumed they were out of touch with the technological curve.

    Still, that makes the president the only American citizen completely immune to spam, phishing, and those annoying e-mails laden with photos of dogs dressed up like superheroes.

    That's some pretty hearty executive privilege.

    • I'm frankly surprised that that is the case and I wonder if it isn't the law per se as much as a somewhat hidebound cya interpretation of the law.

      Obviously, we can't have the president using some goofy webmail account loaded with cross site vulnerabilities and hosted god-knows-where, nor can we have him using the RNC mailserver, beyond the reach of document retention laws*cough*. That said, though, email security and retention are not exactly rocket surgery. Strong crypto is a consumer level technology at
      • by Rick Zeman ( 15628 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @01:54PM (#25778553)

        I'm frankly surprised that that is the case and I wonder if it isn't the law per se as much as a somewhat hidebound cya interpretation of the law.

        Obviously, we can't have the president using some goofy webmail account loaded with cross site vulnerabilities and hosted god-knows-where, nor can we have him using the RNC mailserver, beyond the reach of document retention laws*cough*. That said, though, email security and retention are not exactly rocket surgery. Strong crypto is a consumer level technology at this point, and virtually every corporation of any size already has experience with massive email retention. If anything, it is easier to build a retention system for electronic documents than it is to build one for paper documents in equivalent volume.

        You're missing the point--it's not that they can'tbuild a retention system, it's that they don't want one. They don't want every word or thought (or lobbyist/Abramoff buying them off) captured for posterity.

        Plus, the NSA would probably shit a brick if the Pres had a Blackberry since every BES packet flows through a foreign country.

    • by porcupine8 ( 816071 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @01:56PM (#25778569) Journal
      Yeah, I was pretty surprised at that. I understand that there may be security risks, but it seems like the pros would outweigh the cons. And while Obama may be able to do his job without a blackberry or any email at all, with only a slight loss in efficiency, what about presidents 20, 30 years from now? I imagine that at some point there will come a time when such restrictions actually get in the way of the president's job in a meaningful way.
    • Bush hasn't followed the Presidential Records Act and "lost" more than 10 million emails. [huffingtonpost.com] without getting into trouble. With this kind of precedent why should any future president give a damn?
  • by reusr1 ( 1408433 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @12:55PM (#25778067)
    It would be nice if the government would start open sourcing all software projects developed within or for the government. It should be possible to cut development cost (states ultimately share the source code of some of their projects) and the projects payed by the people would be for the people.
  • Tools for gov. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @12:55PM (#25778071) Homepage Journal

    Wikis for pending legislation.

    Only members of congress ( or their staff ) can make changes, but anyone can add a comment to any change. Use a moderation system like on /. to hide frivolous comments and to ensure that insightful comments rise to the top.

    Use an issue tracker for existing legislation. Have a problem with a law? File a bug. It may be marked as trivial or may get fast tracked as a patch. Either way you know it's status and can organize to get that status changed if enough people agree with you.

    Use RSS feeds to distribute Congressional hearing notes, comittee transcripts, and legislative votes.

       

    • Re:Tools for gov. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @01:13PM (#25778213) Journal

      Wikis for pending legislation. Only members of congress ( or their staff ) can make changes, but anyone can add a comment to any change. Use a moderation system like on /. to hide frivolous comments and to ensure that insightful comments rise to the top

      I've thought of this before. Though, I wonder about the value of any of it.

      /. has a pretty good moderation system, or at least it seems to me. But while it works a lot of the time, it also sucks a lot of the time. Comments that sound right, or that people want to be true, are modded up, regardless of whether they are actually true. Comments on legal matters are probably one of the best examples of this.

      Of course, from time to time you'll have a trusted source say something (think NYCL), but there are many instances when I've seen factually incorrect information modded to +5 Informative and stay that way.*

      Furthermore, I get the feeling we'll be more likely to see something like this: http://obamacto.org/ [obamacto.org] than a more complex moderation system. Note that at the time of posting, "repeal the DMCA" is the third ranked suggestion. Of course we all know the problems with the DMCA (anti-circumvention provisions come to mind first), but repealing it would also get rid of safe-harbor provisions. How many people who clicked "vote for" thought of that?

      In any case, it's not as if legislators are just going to look at the top five things on the list and implement them. At least, one hopes not.

      Where a moderation system would work well is in the thousands of public comments that are submitted to, say, the FCC when they ask for public comment. That way instead of a flood of inane commentary, then can see some highly ranked ideas first.

      *If my own comment becomes an example of this, here is a disclaimer :-)

      • Re:Tools for gov. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AnyoneEB ( 574727 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @01:30PM (#25778361) Homepage
        The Metascore [metagovernment.org] project (part of the Metagovernment [metagovernment.org] project) is working on a moderation system that would work for a discussion of that scale, which may be interesting. I do not know if they will come up with a working solution, but it is worth looking at.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by foniksonik ( 573572 )

        Regarding 'gaming' the comments, certainly there is room for this to happen but in all fairness this already happens - it's called Lobbying, except that it happens behind closed doors and out of the public eye. If people were to attempt this type of activity the Press would be all over it digging up the commenters background info and discovering who was trying to moderate up various views.

        The idea was in fact exactly as you say regarding the FCC public comments... except that it would be centralized and ava

    • Only members of congress ( or their staff ) can make changes, but anyone can add a comment to any change. Use a moderation system like on /. to hide frivolous comments and to ensure that insightful comments rise to the top.

      Nice idea, but in practice - just think of it: the trolling, the 'off topic' rants. If Slashdot has issues with moderators having some sort of connection with the topic, and the topics here tend to be fairly limited in scope, can you imagine the 'comments' on bills that range from arca

      • The other issue is conflict of interest. With the exception of some stories being blog/adwords pimpage or slashvertisements, and the occasional similar scuffle in the comments, nobody on Slashdot has all that much to gain or lose from things going any particular way. The Management just wants things to flow smoothly and traffic to stay high, and everybody else is here for the entertainment. Under such circumstances, people are generally decent, and the few that aren't tend to be blatant and uncreative, and
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) *
      But that makes too much sense!
    • Which is why Change.gov is not a live feed of Obama's daily life, it is video and audio and documents and messages meant to communicate policy and make a much more transparent government.

    • Don't like the way the current govt. is going? Fine, take a copy of the constitution and start writing your own amendments. Or even add patches to the original - after removing it's read-only status, of course.

      I'm not too clear what license you'd be able to release it under - suggestions?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Digg will replace Congress (ie people will Digg up the laws they like, bury the ones they don't)
    Flickr will replace National Parks (who needs to go outdoors when you can see it... from your computer!)
    Google will replace the CDC and provide health care (just Google your symptoms)
    Twitter will replace the USPS (do you really need private letters?)

  • A real how-to (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dino213b ( 949816 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @01:09PM (#25778189)

    This is really simple: provide data feeds to the public -- from various government collection sources.

    End of story. We don't need the government to spend months, or years even, building websites which dumb data down for us. Give us the raw data feeds and let us create mashups, interactive content and let people make their own judgment based on it. Sure, some sites might need heavy design (such as educational loan repayment sites, etc).

    A prime example of this data feed is something like DC's http://data.octo.dc.gov/ [dc.gov]

    And what can people do with that? Well, something like this:

    Drunken sailor map [baltimoresun2.com]

    • Hogwash (Score:3, Insightful)

      by coryking ( 104614 ) *

      End of story. We don't need the government to spend months, or years even, building websites which dumb data down for us

      Yeah. Whatever. If the government cannot explain to us what the hell is causing this economic crisis in terms we understand, what makes you think they understand it either? If they cannot explain it to us, who will? The media?

      The government should be *forced* to making things easy for us to understand. For if it is *not* easy to understand, it makes corruption easy.

      "Dumbing data down

  • a request (Score:4, Interesting)

    by omar.sahal ( 687649 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @01:10PM (#25778199) Homepage Journal
    The only problem I had with Obama was his vague speeches (hope, blah blah change etc) it seemed to say nice sounding things but not give any detail (lots of room for being weaselly letter on).
    change.gov [change.gov] seemed 48 hours after Obama was elected to have (under the title agenda) a detailed policy list. This however disappeared quite quickly. Another [barackobama.com] site however seems to have all his policy details but is by a group called Obama for America, who are they, please post if you have any detail.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Plug ( 14127 )

      "Obama for America" is (was?) the legal name of his Presidential campaign.

    • Re:a request (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bob The Cowboy ( 308954 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @02:02PM (#25778605)

      change.gov seemed 48 hours after Obama was elected to have (under the title agenda) a detailed policy list. This however disappeared quite quickly

      It wasn't removed, just re-arranged. In fact it's still under "Agenda", the fifth tab in from the right and under the "Change.gov" logo at the top. From there you can click on any particular policy you want to know about.

      Or just go to: http://www.change.gov/agenda/ [change.gov]

      Another site however seems to have all his policy details but is by a group called Obama for America, who are they, please post if you have any detail.

      This was his campaign website during the elections. Pretty sure a lot of the policy stuff is the same, here.

      HTH,
      Bill

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @01:14PM (#25778227) Homepage

    You mean one that values appearance over substance, is full of malware and bugs, crashes a lot, and isn't even compatible with itself? That's the usual kind. We've already got one. Worldwide, we've got hundreds.

    • Getting elected is all about putting appearance before substance, and we've all seen how much BO knows about getting elected. What we don't know, yet, is what, if anything, he knows about doing the job. If he follows true to recent Democrat form (Clinton and Carter) it will be something between 12 and 18 months after he's sworn in before we see him acting like a President instead of like a candidate. During that time Web 2.0 would fit his style to a T.
  • by wmbetts ( 1306001 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @01:17PM (#25778253)
    Hopefully Government 2.0 will be designed better than Twitter, but still have all the nice rounded edges and glass buttons!
  • done.
    • Re:rm -rf (Score:4, Insightful)

      by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @05:34PM (#25779977) Homepage Journal

      done.

      Done like dinner, you mean.

      I don't know that I've ever seen a more (inadvertantly) astute summary of the 'small government' argument. Using rm as a tool to remove the operating system that makes its own existence and purpose possible is directly analogous to the argument that we should use government to shrink itself.

      Logically, it can only end in disaster. The moment government cedes its ability to operate in a particular area (and in this example, it's /bin), it ceases to be effective.

      We all know that the libertarian approach wants simply to reduce waste and reduce the government 'footprint'. BUT... that's not practicable. As we've seen from all of the small-government proponents who took office, the effect is the inverse to what voters intended - deregulation becomes license for special interests (most often corporate leaders) to run rampant in pursuit of short-term interests. And that is precisely what regulation was supposed to avoid.

      And still, government grows.

      It grows because those very same interests who laud deregulation in some areas actually want and require regulation in others - again, to protect their own short-term interests.

      The issue of what role government should play and the question of what constitutes (heh) an appropriate size are critically important to a healthy democracy, and in that sense, libertarianism provides a healthy, skeptical check on the desire of some to govern everything, all the time. But the discussion has to begin with the premise that some regulation and legislation must exist in order to protect the long-term health of the government and the people.

  • Open Government [bluwiki.com] is collecting a suggestions for a government legislative Wiki and RSS feed specification.
  • as if there has ever been a '2.0' on the internet except the hype, please, dont bring it unto politics.

    what obama is going to do will be to post a video on a video streaming website. thats the gist of it. dont hype the shit out of it.
  • The President's data -- the most confidential and valuable in the world -- stored on a nice compact, portable 6 pound device, which was designed for someone to walk away with. It's probably safe in the Oval Office, but what happens when he takes it someplace else? Is the wifi radio on? In ad hoc or infrastructure mode?

    And if he's not taking it with him, why does he need a laptop (has he filled out the form providing a business-case justification for this purchase?). It doesn't seem like such a great idea to

    • You do know that "The Football" is basically a very specialized laptop so all he would need to do is just have the person carrying the football carry the laptop also.

    • And if he's not taking it with him, why does he need a laptop

      In this case, the laptop would be used to make it look like he's using a computer to get more work done. Of course, when the cameras aren't rolling he can put it away and get on with doing things on paper if that's what he wants. If he were really interested in computerizing his work he'd get a desktop. He'd have a faster computer with more RAM and a bigger, better monitor that would actually make his work easier. Using a laptop in this cont

  • Since I do not want my private conversations looked at by those out to embarrass, the only course of action is not to correspond in cyberspace.

    "The only course of action..." very Bush.

    "Cyberspace" -- really?!

    And PGP did exist in 2000, didn't it?

    • Heh, you think a politician is going to use a technology that can prove that he sent a given communique?

      (yes, I know you don't have to sign your documents)

  • Don't just implement technology for the sake of using "Web 2.0" technology. Change the operations of the Federal Government so that these technologies are the most effective method to execute the business of the government.
    1) Stop sending Representatives to Washington. Each and every US Representative will work from an office at the geometric center of his district located inside his district. [If the district map does not allow this, the districts can be redrawn].
    2) Other executive offices will be equally
  • In a world where it's barely possible to filter all the spam, how can someone in such a high visibility position even use email, IM, or phone?

    If I knew Obama's phone number, what's to stop me and a million other people from calling him in the middle of his inaguration speech?

    How can his Blackberry possibly cope if millions of Americans knew his email address?

    I wouldn't have even imagined that someone in his position would have "standard" communications tools. I would have assumed that any communications too

  • I'm more concerned about how Government will use "Web 2.0" to exact even more control over us than they do now. Government is not really interested in being "open", though it will throw us a few bones here and there just to keep us from rioting in the street.

    Throughout recent history we have all witnessed countless ways Government has used technology against us all. Sometimes we can hold a few things back, like the Real ID Act; other times it slips us by, like the sneaky roving wiretap law the FBI manage

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @02:12PM (#25778665) Journal

    For too long the public policy of the US has been weighed and measured in three second clips cherry picked by the media to push their own agenda. Presidents have given addresses, but unless you block out the time to listen to the whole message at the time it was given then the republication and further dissemination were prohibited by copyright. What was left were tiny snippets chosen, perhaps to educate and inform but more often chosen to catch attention and spark a fire for pundits to fan into a heated argument between commercials. This doesn't serve the intent of the policy makers at all, and does nothing to improve public policy.

    There is an opportunity here for the President Elect to circumvent the established media and get his message out in a way that preserves the whole message and conveys more substance than can be carried by a sound bite. This is a risk - policies as a whole can be unloved - but at least people will discuss them as whole policies and not be as swayed by a single implementation detail.

    Getting more public information into the hands of the people is also a good thing. The government of the US collects, stores and transmits huge volumes of information. They pay for research, they study trends, they map and photograph, illustrate and write code and generate a lot of other content. Putting more of this online in open formats is a great way to allow the people to share in the progress and become more informed if they choose. It's also an opportunity for the people to take advantage of the information to cross-correlate, rethink and discover what gems might be in the tailings of this information mine, since publications of the US government generally aren't covered by copyright. This could promote a great deal of progress.

    Government agencies at all levels are more and more making their services - information, permitting, licensing, and so on - accessible over the Internet. This makes interacting with government much easier and less prone to error. It makes government more accessible to the handicapped and the poor. The Internet doesn't "close", so people can interact with the government at times of day that are available to them. Accelerating this trend would be a good thing, but we need to be aware of a potential issue: if the Internet is a face of government, then access to that interaction must be preserved and protected. If the Internet becomes the road to City Hall then local broadband monopolies cannot continue to be the gatekeepers, choosing which region is deserving of bandwidth and which is not.

  • We're also hosting this on LegalTorrents here
    http://beta.legaltorrents.com/torrents/255-weekly-address-nov-15-2008 [legaltorrents.com]

  • It seems as though technology can be used to kill two birds with one stone... I wrote an op-ed about this.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/aaron-greenspan/new-deal-20_b_142518.html [huffingtonpost.com]

  • Direct democracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Sunday November 16, 2008 @02:54PM (#25778957) Homepage Journal

    Right now we don't have a "real" democracy in the same way the ancient Greeks practiced it... the U.S. has a representative democracy where we elect a few people to make all of our decisions for us. I don't think this is a bad idea considering the scalability issues. However, the Web 2.0 age could allow people to have more direct input and metrics in the decisions they really care about, and not just give up their choice to whatever their elected representative feels on that one particular issue.

    The easiest way to give the control back to the people would be to give them some control over how their taxes are allocated. Right now, we pay a certain percentage of our income in taxes, and the government decides how much to budget for each department. Wouldn't it be great if you could actually "earmark" your tax dollars? Don't want to support the war in Iraq? Want a certain percentage of your taxes to go support the Dept. of Education or NASA space exploration instead? This would be a great way of directly measuring people's priorities, and give people the sense that the work they do to make money does not go towards what they consider "waste".

    Right now, we sort of have an indirect way of controlling where our tax money goes... you can make tax-deductible contributions to certain charities, or at best you can feed up to $2500 or so to a Political Action Committee to lobby your elected representatives for you. Both of those methods strike me as rather inefficient.

    The government can start small... giving people control over a small percentage of their taxes and gradually increase it as the new balance of power is worked out. Also, maybe they could limit it to a fixed amount per capita, so the people who pay lots of tax don't get a disproportionate amount of control.

    Anyway, I'd like to have more control over where my tax dollars go, and increase competitiveness within the government organizations to show that they put the money to good use.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Why aim so low? We have the technology (almost) to let anybody vote on any bill put before the Government. Of course most people wouldn't vote on most issues, as they are often quite inane - at least judging by the UK Parliament. To stop minority interests taking over then, you allow (indeed, enforce) that everybody votes on every issue - but to stop it becoming overwhelming, allow people to delegate their vote to arbitrary other people.

      By default then everybodies vote would be delegated to their elected re

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jcnnghm ( 538570 )

        Go here [youtube.com] and read the comments. This is why it would be unwise to allow everyone to vote on the issues.

  • referendum.

    Though it'll never happen in this hard-headed and self-serving world.
  • Refuse to hire anyone who still says "two point oh." They're cretins who jump on a buzzword theme rather than understanding issues.

    Unaware: An interwuh?

    Moronic: It's a series of tubes.

    Cretin: 2.0 is where it's at.

    Ideal: Let's look at net neutrality, airforce cyber-command, the events in any former Soviet state that pisses off Russia, the DMCA, etc., address the issues of today and also look at what the potential upcoming issues of tomorrow are so we're a little more prepared before they hit us. Let's bring

  • Currently special interest groups have an inordinate amount of power. A couple dozen well organized and active city residents can stop a development that is supported by the majority of the population that yet can be bothered to do anything (NIMBY is an example of this). This is before we even speak of a well funded lobby proposing a similar change.

    Using Web 2.0 we can give Joe 888 (aka Joe sixpack) the power to lobby on this issue by allowing them to contribute, say $1 cents in the name of their pet projec

  • by ChronoFish ( 948067 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @04:04PM (#25779385) Journal

    I was the lead developer at the Rhode Island Secretary of state for several years. The administration I came in under was very pro-technology and allowed the IT department to explore Open Source, web services, REST APIs, RSS Feeds, etc. The later administration was very technology leary, felt that the IT department had too much power, and refused to provide real leadership. All the hard work that made the department a leader in technology and openness evaporated in period of months.

    The Open Source technologies were done away with, the developers and system guys all left, and the IT department collapsed.

    It is now all outsourced with no plans to expand their offerings, and have had to scale back on existing services.

    I loved it till I hated it.

    -CF

  • WTF? No feed? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gible ( 526142 )
    WTF? Change.gov doesn't have an rss/atom feed? ..or am I blind?
  • by robi2106 ( 464558 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @04:50PM (#25779667) Journal

    Mr Obama will also be the first President to have a "SWF" button on his desktop so when he is killing time on games like Paper Physics or Line rider, he can immediately switch over to some spreadsheet looking thing when the Chief of Staff comes in to make sure he is still working.

    Ahhh slacking off with style.

  • Securing email (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blitzkrieg3 ( 995849 ) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @05:17PM (#25779861)
    From TFA:

    Diana Owen, who leads the American Studies program at Georgetown University, said presidents were not advised to use e-mail because of security risks and fear that messages could be intercepted.

    "They could come up with some bulletproof way of protecting his e-mail and digital correspondence, but anything can be hacked," said Ms. Owen, who has studied how presidents communicate in the Internet era. "The nature of the president's job is that others can use e-mail for him."

    What's wrong with PGP? Surely they could bring a consultant in from the NSA or something to advise in this. I have a hard time believing that I can send secure emails and yet they aren't able to do so presidential level.

Riches cover a multitude of woes. -- Menander

Working...