Monthly Archives: August 2010

Reclaim the Dream and Restore Honor Rallies

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Restore Honor and Reclaim the Dream rallies

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Scenes from around DC.

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Martin Luther King III at the MLK Memorial Site

On the 47th anniversary of his father’s “I Have A Dream” speech, MLK III spoke at the site of the future memorial. The full version of Martin Luther King Jr’s speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is embedded below:

The video begins with the sound of “We Shall Overcome,” the most prominent freedom song of the civil rights movement. Today, the site of the future memorial rang with over a thousand voices raised in song.

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What is Gov 2.0? Carl Malamud putting the SEC online in 1993.

What is government 2.0?

Some days, it seem like there are as many definitions for Gov 2.0 as there are people. Tim O’Reilly says Gov 2.0 is all about the platform. In many ways, Gov 2.0 could be usefully described as putting government in your hands. And in three weeks, people will come from all around the world to learn more about what’s happening in the crucible of people, technology and government at the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington.

I’m looking forward to the event and have been enjoying writing about many of its constituencies in the Gov 2.0 section of O’Reilly RadarThe Huffington PostReadWriteWeb and Mashable.

As I’ve previously observed in writing about language, government 2.0, jargon and technology, I believe the term should be defined primarily by its utility to helping citizens or agencies solve problems, either for individuals or the commons. Defining it in gauzy paeans evangelizing world-shaking paradigm shifts from the embrace of social media by politicians isn’t helpful on that level. That’s particularly when they’re broadcasting, not having conversations that result in more agile government.

Earlier this morning, I was reminded again of the history of the movement in the United States when, through serendipity, I ended up watching the first few minutes of Tim O’Reilly’s webcast, “What is Gov 2.0?” I participated in the webcast when it premiered this spring but was struck again by a particular vignette:

“The first person who really put Gov 2.0 on my radar was Carl Malamud. Carl is really the father of this movement in so many ways. Back in 1993, that’s pretty darn early in the history of the World Wide Web, he put the SEC online.

He got a small planning grant from the  National Science Foundation, which he used to actually license the data, which at that point the SEC was licensing to big companies.

He got some servers from Eric Schmidt, who was the chief technology at Sun. And he basically put all this data he’d gotten from the SEC online, and he operated that for something like two years, and then he donated it to the federal government.

Carl’s idea was that it really mattered for the public to have access to SEC data.”

He still does.

Just look at PublicResource.org, which is dedicated to making information more accessible. Consider his years of working towards Law.gov, which would provide access to the raw materials of our democracy.

For even more backstory, read more about his work as “Washington’s I.T. Guy” in the American Prospect.

Here’s what the SEC wrote about the effort in 1996.

The Commission would like to extend its appreciation to Carl Malamud and Brad Burdick of Internet Multicasting Service. We would also like to express our thanks to Ajit Kambil and Mark Ginsburg of New York University, Stern School (http://edgar.stern.nyu.edu). Operating under a grant from the National Science Foundation for the past two years, IMS/NYU have been providing the EDGAR database to the public via the Internet as a pilot program. It has been an unquestioned success and has provided a significant public service. After the grant came to an end on October 1, 1995, the SEC decided to continue making the vast EDGAR database available to the public from an SEC facility. In addition to the EDGAR data, the Commission has also made available numerous investor guides, Commission reports, and other securities-related information. Much more will evolve from this initial service in the coming months.

Today, I found it notable to be reminded that Malamud was supported by the future CEO of Google in getting the SEC online. That’s the sort of public-private partnership that has substance beyond a buzzword, like his FedFlix effort to digitize films and videos produced by the government,

If you’re interested in Gov 2.0 and open government, the entire webcast with Tim is about 51 minutes long but well worth the time.

If you have some time, I highly recommend it for perspective on the history of Gov 2.0 and insight into what could be possible in the future.

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Considering Disasters, Social Media and Crisis Congress at FEMA

 [#Gov20]

Filtering facts from dross is doubly important during a time of war, 
which is a critical frame for discussing Wikileaks, open government and new media hurricanes. It’s also true during hurricane season, when accurate
 reporting of storm tracks, damage and conditions is crucial. A 
capacity to maneuver more effectively in the most elemental of
 environments will be useful in 2010 and beyond.

One place that’s happening is at the top of the
 Federal Emergency Management Agency, where FEMA Administrator Craig 
Fugate has been leveraging technology to more effectively deliver on 
his mission.

While FEMA has taken tough criticism over the years, its current administrator brings a common sense approach and deep experience from his work in emergency management in Florida.

Last month, Fugate talked frankly the first “Crisis Congress” about social media, disasters and the role Crisis Commons and civil society efforts could play in crises.

There are 
good reasons for that conversation. According to Fugate, ESRI built 
the ability to add Open Street Map as a layer after watching their
 work crisismapping Haiti.

He also highlighted the Crisis Commons Oil
Reporter app as a prototype of the kind of robust app that could
 integrate FEMA open data.

“We work for the people, so why can’t they be part of the solution? “
said Fugate to the assembled Crisis Congress. “The public is a resource, not a 
liability.”

As a recent example, Fugate said that FEMA used reporters’ tweets during Hurricane Ike for
 situational awareness. “We’ve seen mashups providing better info than
 the government.”

Fugate has been out in front in leading an agency-wide effort to enable information and 
e-services to find citizens where they are, when they need to access it. For instance, a new mobile FEMA.gov allows citizens to apply for 
benefits from a cell phone.

More features are on their way to 
mobile platforms soon, too, according to Fugate. “I want an app on multiple platforms that knows
 where my phone is,” he said.

For more on what’s happening with FEMA in this space, read about last week’s Emergency Social Data Summit in Washington from the Red Cross or Voice of America or watch Craig Fugate talk about social media at InCaseOfEmergencyBlog.com.

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