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[pdf09] Vivek Kundra and Macon Phillips … now with extra Craig!

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. POSTED WITHOUT BEING REREAD. You are warned, people.

Craig Newmark: “It’s bigger than us and it feels pretty good.” Craig says he likes calling if grassroots democracy. Policy wonks, nerds, and pragmatists working together. Craig says we should be talking about “nonks” (= nerds + wonks). He salutes the first “nerd administration.”

Craig introduces Vivek Kundra (chief information officer) and Macon Phillips (White House new media director). Vivek makes an announcement. “The federal gov’t spends $70B on info tech” but the initiatives freqwuently fail. E.g., the Census’ ridiculous handheld that has failed, so now we’re back to using paper. [ACK!] Vivek announces the IT Dashboard it.usaspending.gov. It builds on data.gov. It shows provides real-time visibility into your tax dollars. You can share the data, embed it, drill down into it, show you the phto fo the CIO responsible, contact her or him directly, provide feedback, look at the perfomance metrics viewed against theactual performance, who the contractors are. You can get the data itself in mashable form, and you can provide any set of data you pull together as an RSS feed.

He shows tools for comparing and spotting trends; it’s a little like WolframAlpha for gov’t data. “We’re launching a platform that will allow us to tap into some of the best ideas and best thinking.” “We look forward to iterating on this. We’ve launched it in beta.”

[This is the type of big, visible success the CIO needs. Fantastic. He gets, and deserves, a standing ovation.]

Macon Phillips begins by thanking the audience for its work. He asks for more feedback on the White House’s Web 2.0 projects.

Q: [esther dyson] How are you going to aggregate the feedback?
VK: It goes to the relevant CIOs and to me. Macon and I are looking at how we can use media to amplify it and getting it directly to the people making decisions.

Q: IS there a danger in hiring tech people to make tech policy?
VK: The fed gov’t is made up of 4M people and 10,000 systems. It’s great to have access to some of the brightest minds in tech policy. Those who are coming to serve in the interest of their country is extremely people. The percentage of people from the tech industry is a small percentage.
MO: We’re bringing in people who can help us with processes, help us make gov’t more transparent.

Q: 18K computer educators are meeting now, discussing how to teach students to do data mashups, etc. Are you trying to figure out a way to allow educators and students to work with your data?
VK: Yes, students can now solve actual problems. But it’s not just teachers and students. Think about the explosion of research when the genome was made public. Also, when GIS data was made public. We’re building platformsWe’re looking at X-prizes to stimulate innovation.

Q: Tying in Stimulus and bailout funds?
VK: Yes. GAO data is already showing up. It took us 1.5 months to get to 100,000 feeds. We decided to launch with just a few so we could get feedback on what we’re doing.

Q: Is the new office of cybersecurity going to be exempt from transparency?
VK: No. They need internal data sharing, and I’m working with them on transparency.

VK: You want into in open formats, in as raw a form as possible. In its raw format, peole have the ability to slice and dice, and to innovate.

Q: What are the limits of transparency?
VK: We don’t want to harm national security. And we want gov’t officials to feel secure in their internal discussions.

Q: [andrew rasiej] Redefining “public” accesibility of documents as “searchable and accessible online”?
VK: As a principle, that makes a lot of sense. I want to caution on the reality, though. There are over 10,000 systems. The data lives in COBOL-based systems we have to get people out of retirement to help us. Petabytes of data. So, there’s an economic question in making those investments in going back through. So, looking forward we want to make sure the spirit of that definition of “public” is honored… [Tags: ]

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