Carl Malamud's at it again. In his rousing opening keynote titled "Currents of Our Time" at the 2010 Gov2.0 Summit in Washington DC, Malamud described both the horrendous current lay of the land in govt IT as well as several uplifting examples from the progressive era of government and activists at the forefront of positive public change. Then he defined his 3 steps for for transforming government as platform:
- finish the opengov revolution (bulk data, strong FOIA, providing access to knowledge to all!)
- spend a minimum of $250 million per year for a decade on a national scanning initiative.
- open systems revolution: "a Computer Commission with the kind of authority the Civil Service Commission had to conduct agency-by-agency reviews and help us reboot .gov, flipping the bit from a reliance on over-designed custom systems to one based on open-source building blocks, judicious use of commercial off-the-shelf-components, and much tighter control of the beltway bandits."
"If we can land a man on the moon, surely we can launch the Library of Congress into cyberspace!"
Viva la open govt revolución!!
PS. Don't miss the other very fine speakers at the Summit as well!
Here's a way to spend an enjoyable lunchtime: watch Carl Malamud give his Keynote address "10 Rules for Radicals" to the WWW2010 Conference in Raleigh, NC on April 30, 2010 -- and if you've got more time, you can also watch all of the law.gov workshops over on Carl's Internet governance space at the Internet Archive! Certainly some great rules to live by!!
- Call everything "an experiment."
- When the authorities finally fire the starting gun, run as fast as you can.
- Eyeballs rule.
- When you achieve your objective, don't be afraid to turn on a dime and be nice.
- Keep asking, keep rephrasing the question until they *can* say yes.
- When you get the microphone, make sure you make your point clearly and succinctly.
- Get standing. one can criticize all one wants, but if you can document malfeasance and wrongdoing, they have to talk to you.
- Try to get the bureaucrats to threaten you (related to rule 7).
- Look for over-reaching.
- Don't be afraid to fail
Wow that was fast! The Gov2.0 Expo in Washington DC just wrapped up 2 days of speakers, panels, discussions etc and already the video from the Expo is up online (youtube and blip.tv channels). Here's just 2 of the many interesting talks that I've only begun to absorb. Enjoy!
Tim Berners-Lee, "Open, Linked Data for a Global Community"
Carl Malamud, "Law.Gov: America's Operating System, Open Source"
Wish I could be in Washington DC next tuesday for CopyNight when Carl Malamud will speak at ALA Washington Office. If any of our readers go, please leave comments here on your thoughts/ideas/brainstorms/concerns etc. Thanks!
On Tuesday, May 25, the ALA Washington Office will host DC’s “CopyNight” group for an evening with special guest Carl Malamud about the future of public information.
Malamud is the founder of Public.Resource.Org, a foundation dedicated to making public information accessible. His latest project is an effort to bring all of the United States primary legal sources, such as legal codes and case law, online for free public access. Currently, access to many legal sources is only available through commercial databases that are extraordinarily expensive to use – making these materials inaccessible to most of the public. Malamud has been holding a series of public workshops and symposia, with help from a variety of thought leaders in law and technology, presenting the issues and challenges facing the project.
He’ll also talk about the International Amateur Scanning League, a group of DC-area volunteers digitizing government-produced DVDs currently only available from the National Archives in College Park, which he is making available through YouTube, the Internet Archive, and Public Resource’s own Public Domain Stock Footage Library.
Carl Malamud announced yesterday the inaugural meeting of the International Amateur Scanning League (IASL) (I'm already imagining cool swag!). Malamud is taking FedFlix program to the streets! Fedflix, a joint venture between the National Technical Information Service and Public.Resource.Org, digitizes NTIS video and makes them available on YouTube, the Internet Archive, and the public.resource.org Stock Footage Library.
Well now a gang of volunteers including members of DC CopyNight and Smithsonian employees working on their own time are going to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and copying over 1,500 DVDs to be uploaded to the net.
What makes this grassroots digitization effort so remarkable is that it has the full support of the government. Indeed, David Ferriero, the U.S. Archivist, joined me in the initial meeting where we taught volunteers how to rip DVDs!
Kudos to Malamud and the IASL!
And this makes me think that more libraries and librarians should be doing the same thing for govt documents. Why not set up your own scanning operations in your depository library (Book Liberator or DIY Book Scanner can show you how to digitize on the cheap!) and then deposit those scans into the Internet Archive's US Documents Collection (don't forget to follow FDLP digitization standards!). Scans could also be ingested into FDSys (when they've got that capability working ;-)). So get to it; what are you waiting for?!
Carl Malamud posed this question over on twitter: "What if our national cultural institutions all worked together on a common problem, attracted White House support?" In his post on the O'Reilly blog, "A National Scan Center: A Public Works Project", Malamud scopes out the issues and calls for Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the Government Printing Office, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Technical Information Service to come together and make the compelling case for funding a 5-year $500 million effort to create a National Scan Center. Here here Carl!
In the U.S., we face a similar deluge of paperwork that we faced in the 1930s. A huge backlog of paper, microfiche, audio, video, and other materials is located throughout the federal government. Little money has gone from Congress for digitization, and bureaucracies have resorted to a series of questionable private-public partnerships as a way of digitizing their materials. For example, the Government Accountability Office shipped 60 million pages of our Federal Legislative Histories (the record of each law from the initial bill through the hearings and conference reports) off to Thomson West, but didn't even get digital copies back. Another example is the recent failed effort by the Government Printing Office to digitize 60 million pages of the Federal Depository Library Program, an effort they tried to get through as a "zero dollar cost to the government" effort with the private sector.
There are no free lunches and there are no "no cost to the government" deals. The costs involve the government effort to supervise the contract, prepare the materials, and ship them, and in both the GAO and GPO cases, the government wasn't getting much back for its effort. What the government and the people usually get is a lien on the public domain, preventing the public from accessing these vital materials. Similar efforts are sprinkled throughout the government. I testified to Congress that I had learned that the National Archives was contemplating a scan of congressional hearings with LexisNexis under similar circumstances, and many may be aware of the questionable deal the Archives cut with Amazon where my favorite online superstore got de facto exclusive rights to 1,899 wonderful pieces of video.
Well now he's expanding FedFlix to include public domain videos from the National Archives. He's released 41 videos into the public domain in this way, but has put together an Amazon Wish List in order to expand public access to public domain video content from the National Archives. If you see anything you'd like to buy the public domain, they'll take your DVD and upload the video to YouTube, the Internet Archive, and to public.resource.org's own rsync/ftp public domain stock footage library. So why not add a gift of the public domain to your favorite person's/people's stockings this year? We'll all be glad we did!
We posted about Carl Malamud's address to the Gov2.0 Summit in september, but BoingBoing reminded us that there is now video of his address (below). Carl's speech is quite rousing and reminds all of us what we can and should be doing to facilitate access to government information. You can also get his pamphlet online to read along with the address.
And don't forget to read Appendix A: "29 things government could do today." One thing I would add to that list is that every witness statement inserted into the official record in the course of public Congressional hearings should be considered in the public domain regardless of its original copyright status (some witnesses submit published articles, book chapters and the like as part of their written statements which means that the Google Book Project *still* treats post-1923 scanned government publications as if they were in copyright and only shows snippets instead of full-text.)
“Government as platform” means exposing the core information that makes government function, information that is of tremendous economic value to society. Government information—patents, corporate filings, agriculture research, maps, weather, medical research—is the raw material of innovation, creating a wealth of business opportunities that drive our economy forward. Government information is a form of infrastructure, no less important to our modern life than our roads, electrical grid, or water systems. (p.21)
[Thanks for the reminder BoingBoing!]
The Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) will host a 2-day workshop Open Government: Defining, Designing, and Sustaining Transparency at Princeton U, Jan 21-22, 2010. Along with a wide-ranging discussion on transparency, there will be a session on friday on the proposed law.gov registry and repository. I hope lots of people in the Princeton area will attend (FYI, there will be a law.gov symposium at Stanford on January 12, 2010. More to come).
Day 1: Thursday January 21 (9am - 5pm)
This session will aim to take a critical look at what government transparency means. Some of the questions the panel will consider are: What do people mean when they use these terms? Are open government and government transparency a means or an end? What are the boundaries and tensions involved with different conceptions? What is the history of the use of these concepts and what are various flavors of transparency?
This session seeks to take a deep look into architecting systems such that they support open government and transparency. Some fo the questions the panel will consider include: How do we design systems, infrastructures and processes to support transparency? Is transparency a value like security, privacy and usability that must be designed into systems from the beginning? If so, how do we include transparency into policy and technical processes? Are there still effective ways to make existing systems more transparent without ineffectively “bolting on” transparency support after policies and systems are fielded?
We’d like to think that open government and transparency are not “fads” or “trends” that could disappear. It seems that now is the time to think deeply about how open government and transparency can sustain. Can we measure how open or transparent government is, such that we would notice any adverse downturns? How do we ensure that transparency is a value that outlasts changes in political winds? In addition to making data available on an ongoing basis, what are strategies for sustainable transparency? How do we educate the public to recognize the value of open government and demand transparency of governmental systems? How much of this can we control and what strategies can we conceptualize that will result in obvious public interest value to bolster open government?
Breakfast (8:30am - 9am)
Day 2: Friday January 22 (9am - 12:30pm)
Access to primary legal materials in the United States is the subject of this session. We’ll discuss current provision of these materials by the Federal and State governments through government systems (such as the GPO’s FDSys and the Judiciary’s PACER system), through commercial providers such as Lexis and West, and various alternatives that have sprung up in both the private sector and from nongovernmental organizations such as Public.Resource, Altlaw, and the RECAP project. In addition to examining the current situation for access to materials, this session will include discussion of the Law.Gov effort, a year-long effort to document detailed specifications that would enable the Federal and then state and local governments to provide a distributed, open source, authenticated registry and repository for primary legal materials. Similar in spirit to the Data.Gov system recently launched, the Law.Gov effort includes a series of workshops at ten major law schools in early 2010.
The availability of data sources and access to government agencies are only a first step in projects involving open government and governmental transparency. The next step is matching the supply of such projects with demand for working on such projects. Tinkerers–those that would create systems that use data from and increased access to government systems–and governmental suppliers need to coordinate in some fashion to best realize project-based open government efforts. What are mechanisms that might match governmental supply of data and access to these tinkerers in an efficient manner? Would a mini-CFP system work, where tinkerers would be on a distribution list that governmental actors could post opportunities for project-based open government work and then decide which projects to work with? Are there legal barriers to such organization? Does it even make sense to “launch” such data sets and access opportunities with projects that benefited from exclusive access before a public launch?
[Originally tweeted by rschon. Thanks for the tip!]
Los Angeles Time business columnist Michael Hiltzik discusses key players in the Free Government Information movement in the article These crusaders bring transparency to government (28 September 2009).