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DC to host Foo and Bar

BY Dave Witzel | Tuesday, March 10 2009

Tim O'Reilly announced a government 2.0 conference to be held in DC via twitter saying "Looks like the word is out, just before my #etech keynote where I was planning to announce it: Gov 2 Summit in DC" This is the latest in a whole series of events in DC focused on how technology will influence governance in the Obama age. Looks like we'll get "change we can believe in" or at least talk it to death.

O'Reilly, publisher and conference organizer, is behind the original FOO camp (for "Friends Of O'Reilly). O'Reilly Media is also publishing Democratizing Data: Transforming Government, Healthcare, Enterprises, the Environment, and Everyday Life by David Stephenson though unlikely to be co-authored by Vivek Kundra now that he's been appointed Federal CIO.

The Gov 2.0 Summit is by-invitation (request yours now) and hopes to bring together "policy-makers, elected officials, upper management in city, state, and federal agencies, technology leadership in all levels of government, private-sector internet business leaders, contractors, and consultants to establish high-level thought leadership across the spectrum of stake-holders."

Even with his horsepower, O'Reilly may have some difficulty making a splash because he's moving into an already crowded field. Washington DC has become a technology hotbed with amazing creativity and discourse especially around transparency, participation, and government services. The Sunlight Foundation-organized Transparency Camp earlier this month set a high bar for participatory events, attracting over 300 attendees from a variety of sectors for two-days of stimulating discussion.

Later this month is the already-sold-out Government 2.0 Camp (though looks like you can still attend if you pony up at least $250 to sponsor) and then on April 19 will be the second eDemocracy Camp hosted at George Washington University's Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet. eDemocracy Camp is followed on April 20-21 by IPDI's Politics Online Conference 2009 to be held at the Ronald Reagan Building this year. As if that isn't enough, one of my favorite conferences (no, really) is the Personal Democracy Forum to be held June 29th & 30th at Lincoln Center's beautiful Rose Hall in New York. (Okay, strictly speaking this is a conference in New York which is not in Washington DC. However, we think of the Big Apple as a suburb, connected by fast rail.)

If you can't tell these events apart, here's my quick cheat-sheet. The Gov2.0 Camp and eDemocracy Camp are both Bar Camps (riffing off O'Reilly's FOO Camps, get it?) with open, participatory formats. If you haven't experienced this event format, you really should. Gov2.0 will focus more on technology within government and is actively recruiting government employees to attend. While topics and attendees of the camps will overlap, more of the conversation at eDemocracy Camp will be around citizen involvement from outside government, self-government, e-democracy, voting, citizen-action and the like.

Politics Online and PDF are both more traditional conferences with a fixed agenda of keynotes and panels. Both will have some amazing talks. Politics Online tends to focus more on electoral politics and campaigning while PDF often covers more esoteric, "which way is the world going?" topics (if you don't believe me, check out Mark Pesce's talk on Hyperpolitics from last year.) It looks like O'Reilly's Gov 2.0 Summit will be in a similar vein likely with a very interesting agenda and crowd. (They are looking for "case studies of government 2.0 in action" if you want to try to get in for free.)

Did I miss any events? How do you rate these events? Weigh-in in the comments.