Daily Digest: Renewing the Push for Open Government by Law, by Code
BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, December 2 2008
Opening the Transition: Overnight, a new site went up detailing a push by Stanford professor Larry Lessig to petition the Obama-Biden transition to abide by not only the letter of open government principles, but the spirit. (Note: our Micah Sifry is a signatory to the letter.) Change.gov's embrace of a rather liberal Creative Commons license is, admits Lessig, "fantastically good news," but Lessig et al want the incoming administration to ensure that those sound legal choices are accompanied by open-leaning in-the-weeds tech decisions. Ars Technica's Julian Sanchez sees the "Obama-Biden Transition Project's" choices on copyright as good PR for Creative Commons that simply points to the government-in-waiting's strange nature. But an under noticed fact is the Change.gov blog's deserved chest-puffing over offering all its video content in easily remixable raw Quicktime format -- a none-too-subtle seconding of the truth that open government is nearly all in the details.
Obama's Ally in the Valley: Calls for Transformational CTO: California-based David Kralik heads up internet strategy for Newt Gingrich's American Solutions organization, and he's out with a look in the DC Examiner at how America's first CTO -- what he calls the "Chief Transformation Officer" -- should function. Some of Kralik's suggestions are a bit fanciful: the new CTO should telecommute from Silicon Valley, ignore the traditional metrics of power (funding, staffing, access), and dedicate a "Google '20% time'" to side projects. Others might have legs. The CTO, suggests Kralik, should spearhead an effort that requires government entities to be digitized and transparent by 2012 -- or else see their funding disappear.
Had the FEC Had Decided Otherwise...: In an ABC News opinion piece, the Center for Democracy and Technology Leslie Harris argues that the 'net-fueled political revolution of '08 wouldn't have been possible had the Federal Elections Commission embraced the regulations on online political speech that were bubbling up a few years back. (One read of Harris's piece, though, is that she conflates blogging and other media regs for all online politicking). For a look back at that fork in the road, take a look at what the Wayback Machine has on the Online Coalition. The most important lesson from the path the FEC chose? "[T]rust the Internet," says Harris.
When O Met Gen Y: For some very quick lunchtime viewing, have a look at this enjoyable four-minute clip of a Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics session held a few months back, via Derek Baird. The panel featured techPres contributor and Nation writer Ari Melber and "Yes We Can" producer Wes Hill on how the Obama campaign made the sale to college-age Americans.
In Case You Missed It...
Kevin Thurman looks at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s DLCCWeb program, which equipped down-ballot candidates with entirely affordable online tools. By learning how not to reinvent the wheel, Democrats-not-named-Obama were able to save big and campaign big, he writes. "[O]ver 300 websites...were launched through the program in the 2008 cycle," says Kevin. "These sites generated 13.9 Million views, generated 2,798,496 emails to supporters and voters, and raised $444,098.99 in donations" -- all for just forty bucks a month.
Nancy Scola questions Democratic Strategist's Ed Kilgore's thinking that the rightroots' attempt at rebuilding the GOP is weakened by a lack of "a preparatory period of ideological ferment."
Mike Turk says that the woeful Federal Voting Assistance program -- the Pentagon effort to help both military members and Americans abroad cast ballots -- reminds him that government IT programs often fall short "either on the development side...or on the marketing side." Hey, Mike, it could be worse. In '04, troubles with DOD's basic server configurations meant that you couldn't pull up the FVAP site from many places overseas.