I'm one of a group of bloggers attending the Web 2.0 Expo in downtown Francisco this week. We just sat down for a conversation with Tim O'Reilly, and since I have a particular interest in the topic of transparency — originally for corporations and now for government — I was interested in hearing Tim tell us about his escalating interest in how things work in Washington, DC.
He cited how Carl Malamud turned over what was originally a
non-government project, the SEC EDGAR database, to the SEC after developing
it – and that this was the first of what could be many such
endeavors. Technologists creating solutions and tools for
transparency. Some view this as a disruption, including O'Reilly –
who, of course, believes this is necessary and useful.
This is a nation born in revolution, so disruption is in our DNA.
O'Reilly's interest in this topic – and the prominence given it at
this conference – reflects the mood of the country, when we're not
over-thinking our checkbooks: that we are in need not just of
revolutionary thinking but of deploying specific skill sets to
revolutionary acts. In our case at this conference, it means
considering how best and where to deploy technologists to help our
regulatory infrastructure rewind itself back around the entire
populace – not just the folks who have made it their business to
influence and run our government.
I always bristle a bit at the use of disruption as a description
for change – it sounds negative to me. The introduction of
new ideas and new methods is of course a disruption – but to
position it that way is a bit confrontational – especially when
people are feeling challenged as it is by the inevitable
I see this with clients frequently – it's what we used to call
[and I still call] change management. Sometimes even when people
understand and want change, they fight it or challenge it. I'd like
to think that introducing more technology into the way the US
government operates can happen without the fight or the resistance.
But it probably won't.
So let's call it disruption if we must. And let's get comfortable
with it. It's a return to our roots – and I'm all for technology
being the means for this particular revolution.
Read this blog post by Janetti Chon to learn more about each track of this year's expo. They are:
- Strategy and business models
- Marketing and community
- Design and user experience
- Web operations
- Web 2.0 at work
- Government 2.0
Right now, I'm most interested in the design and user experience and government tracks. My ticket gives me two tracks, so I'll decide closer to the conference. One of the keynotes I plan to attend is about tech gear. Patrick Norton and Veronica Belmont of Tekzilla will deliver a review of the latest gear plus tips on how to improve the stuff we own already. This one is happening on Thursday, April 1 at 3:30.
With a BA in government, you might say it's been a lifelong avocation to observe the workings of our republic. And my academic studies certainly had an influence on my work a few years ago in the area of corporate transparency. [I was either too early or too late.]
So in one of the notes we bloggers received today from the Web 2.0 Expo team, I was interested to see that they've added a track in government. Here's the story, from Janetti Chon.
The Government 2.0 track
seeks to help the Web 2.0 community understand how they can bring their
skills and knowledge to bear on this critical problem, whether as
individuals seeking to enable change or companies looking for a new
A related agenda opportunity is a hackathon sponsored by Sunlight Labs. Here's that story.
Sunlight Labs is an open source development team that
builds technology to make government more transparent and accountable. Part of
the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, they are one of our favorite
organizations, so we’ve invited them to host a hackathon at Web 2.0 Expo, where
attendees build an application that promotes transparency in government. You
can vote now for the application you want to build (or think needs to
be built). We’ll post an update on Web 2.0 Expo’s blog when the
project is selected. We welcome you to join our on-site hackathon – stop by to
help out for an hour or a day, contribute to rebuilding our democracy, and meet
some great folks! Open Tuesday 9am-6pm,
Wednesday & Thursday 9am-5pm.
Meanwhile, I'll be announcing a special offer for Web 2.0 Expo in the next few days — stay tuned.
I'll be blogging before, during and after Web 2.0 Expo [March 31 – April 3, San Francisco's Moscone Center] about what's coming, what I see and what I conclude from the sessions and the encounters with other attendees. I've attended the past couple of years, but this year, I'm one of the group of bloggers that will offer news and information about the experience.
This is an affordable conference for technologists and those of us who work with and for them — and there are attendance options that fit any budget or priorities. One of the best aspects of the gathering is the people you meet. From veterans to new faces, you have the opportunity to learn what's working and what they see coming. I think this year will be interesting not just for the industry access but because for many attendees, it will be the first time you get to see how the tech industry keeps plugging in a down economy. Innovators in all sectors of the industry will show us why we can't afford to lose heart or creativity.
Here are some places to visit for more information.
About the conference
The free expo pass opportunity — use websf09tr3 for a $100 discount or the free expo pass