Kathy Gill graciously agreed to work with me on an independent study this quarter. The topic? Open Government, an area I've wanted to dig my teeth into for quite some time now. We're not in the same department — Kathy teaches in the Digital Media Program and I'm at the iSchool getting a Master in Information Management — but our interests dovetail quite nicely. I know this from following her on Twitter, reading her blog, and looking at her past syllabi. Our stimulating, face to face meeting also confirmed this (Kathy took me on as her independent study student before we got a chance to meet in person.)
Below are the learning objectives for the course that I sent Kathy via email. So far, I've been devouring
Up until now, my understanding of the Open Government movement has been hit and miss. A blog post here, an article there, and attendance at a day long open government unconference has been most of my exposure to this topic. I'd like more of a comprehensive view of the movement — it's history, major players (the activists who are pushing for reform and the governments that are responding), and a global perspective of its manifestations (I've been told that the UK is leading in this arena, but I don't know whether or not that's true). I'd also like to know how different actors are defining "open government" and "Gov2.0." For instance, is it simply governments that dump data sets out into the public? Does it involve governments making that data understandable by ordinary citizen? Are there rating systems yet for the openness of government? Does the term "open government" usually include ways for citizens to interact dynamically with policy makers? Other aspects of Open Government that I'd like a better understanding of include:
- Interoperability. From what I understand, San Francisco, Portland and Washington D.C. are developing open data standards that will make transferring and reusing government data easier and, perhaps, one day even seamless. How are different government entities collaborating to move Open Government forward? Where and why have their been successes and failures? What are the major road blocks?
- Technology. What technology is being used in Gov2.0 and Open Government initiatives? Is it always open source? I know Anil Dash and Gina Trapani at Expert Labs are working on the Think Tank app, but I'd like to learn about other initiatives.
- Social factors. I should have probably listed this point first since it's the most salient to Open Government adaption inside and outside government. What are the social, political and cultural barriers in Open Government?
- Unintentional consequences. What are the unintentional — and potentially negative — consequences of Open Government?
- Threats. What are the biggest threats to this movement?
- Linked Data. Is there a relationship between the movement for Linked Data and the semantic web, and Open Government