Thanks to Yule Heibel who passed on this video of David Eaves ,interviewed by Steve Paikin, on his efforts to promote, and enact, Open Information, E-Government and Gov 2.0 principles. Yule’s blog post focused on two
aspects: public engagement and the bureaucratic lack of insight into their own expertise, each of which could largely be solved through open data streams. Providing data sets to the public would mitigate much of the angst which is now apparent (see the anti-HST petition, or johnsonstreetbridge.ORG as ongoing British Columbia and Victoria examples), and internal data sets would offer efficiencies. Important, but I digress, what interests me is information culture…watch the video, then think about some following points.
Three Information Cultures – All at War
The Voting Public – are the prime users of government services, it is our taxes which provide those services, prioritized supposedly through some sort of consensus, and the salaries of those who manage the social contract. We are the great unwashed who now roam social media, make networks, programs, apps – our demand for information is growing, and we can do amazing things with data sets. Make our information available (and it is our information – hell, we pay for it) and look for interactive traffic maps that predict congestion, plots of difficult driveways for garbage pickup (like in snow storms), the best spots for community recycling stations, what fire hydrants are most popular with dogs…
The Elected – preach accountability and transparency, but where is it? Federal, Provincial to Municipal the staff who advise you are gathering more and more information, and releasing less. The lack-of-trust issue becomes more apparent when we (the great unwashed, remember us?) have to wait weeks, sometimes months (sometimes forever), for minutes of meetings we never knew you attended. You use social media and online marketing to promote your platforms, and get elected, yet quiver at the thought of those same platforms transacting accountability.
The Bureaucracy – work in an environment of top down management. The elected offer the direction, you provide the options and enact the results; and take the heat from the public as much as those who define your role. You spend time on the front line dealing with public information requests and are often stymied by a lack of systems and platforms to facilitate not only sharing, but effective community engagement.
What all three have in common is information culture – the need and want to access, privacy issues; sharing for understanding and collaboration. Yet they do not work together – all are at war.