Style of Open Government

A response to an #opendata movement exchange between Tom Steinberg (founder MySociety UK) and John Wonderlich (director Sunlight Foundation USA) about the importance of outrage from someone that struggles to push and to collaborate on open government at the same time in parliament, in government and in large corporates:


It has taken 10+ years effort to earn the trust to successfully identify and cajole the *right* career civil servants and the *right* politicians to go to an open data bootcamp.

The efforts are certainly built on outrage.

I believe I am the only person in the Isle of Man to go to court over the code of practice on access to information with the Companies Registry and one of the reasons I ended up helping Chris Taggart at opencorporates to webscrape Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, Cyprus, etc.  In a small and, more importantly, offshore jurisdiction that is usually very career defining (a.k.a. limited to the private sector).  That is outrage.

I have allocated 80% annual leave for years and “volunteer” for anything that earns time in lieu (no paid overtime anyway) to attend TransparencyCamp in Washington DC for the masterclasses or RISE in Hong Kong to help push harder on #blockchain.  I have explored how to help get cash directly into the hands of beneficiaries with the bitcoin XBT currency code in the global aid flow database and then just did it because no-one else would in my timescale.  That is outrage.

I have been on that cold train station platform late on a Sunday at the end of an exciting but draining unconference when a career civil servant  says they are looking forward to the next 2 days time in lieu to recover and you have to go to the day job.  That is outrage.

Yes, the funding mechanisms are broken and the Open Contracting Data Standard will probably not help fast enough to help the early stage open data generation.  I have made some difficult decisions already in 2016.  I have had 2 direct debits bounce and my credit reference is impacted.  That is outrage.

I was at the Open Knowledge bootcamps in London, Warsaw, Helsinki, Geneva and Berlin but increasingly only the handfuls that ended up with some government funding were still able to afford or to justify self-funding from other consultancy.  Tech startups know or eventually learn that fundraising is increasingly a full-time role and only successful if you have a CTO co-founder to help the fundraising.  The rightest and brightest ideas needlessly slip through the fingers of society every month and I am powerless to stop it.  That is outrage.

Just last night, I hosted a parliament session with a small group of 16+ year olds in care to debate a motion for the government to substantially fund driving lessons as they do not have parents to subsidise or to practice driving at weekends.  A quiet girl had exhaustively researched driving lesson costs (average GBP 28 per hour) and average lessons (47) and costs.  A young mother with a baby had powerful points and the director of childrens services agreed in principle to amend the department policy.  I was humbled.  I recognise channelled outrage.

I have made the right decision.  Collaboration and hacktivist.  Open data, when do we want it, now! ;O)



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