IgniteGov Speakers

Give me back my Facebook: What you don't understand about Web users

Speaker: Abraham Hyatt

Affiliation:ReadWriteWeb

URL: http://abrahamhyatt.com

Biography: Abraham Hyatt is the production editor at the technology news site ReadWriteWeb. He was the creator of the Digital Journalism Portland conference in 2009, and previously worked as the managing editor at Oregon Business magazine. He can be found online at abrahamhyatt.com and @abrahamhyatt on Twitter.

Description:I'm one of the editors at the tech news site ReadWriteWeb. Last February something happened that made me suddenly realize that there are a significant number of people who are navigating the Web in ways we don't understand. This Ignite presentation is a unique case study -- sometimes funny, sometimes serious -- that illustrates that the problem is bigger than those of us who develop online tools, produce content and create user interfaces realize.

The story:

On Feb. 10 we wrote a post about Facebook, and used a title with the words "Facebook" and "Login" in it. Within a few hours it had risen to the #2 spot on Google for the search "Facebook login" and "facebook.com". At that point we suddenly started seeing a massive spike in traffic. We didn't understand what was going on until the comments started pouring in on the Facebook story.

#1: "Ok If I have to I will comment,I love facebook so right now just want to log in if thats ok with you..lol Keep up the good work..."

#3: "ok cool now can I get to facebook"

#5: "The new facebook sucks> NOW LET ME IN."

#6: "when can we log in?"

#9: "please give me back the old facebook login this is crazy................."

#15: "What is going on? You are totally confusing me. Knock-knock. Anybody there? Let me in. Katherine"

By the end of the day, there were hundreds and hundreds of similar comments. That quickly grew into the thousands. And they just kept coming. By the end of three days, the story had received over 1 million page views.

Here's what was happening:

Someone would type facebook.com or facebook login. They blindly clicked on one of the tops results, which normally would be Facebook.com. At this point they were in unfamiliar territory: RWW is bright red and looks like a blog. Regardless of that, they would then scroll to the bottom of the page were they saw a familiar sight: the Facebook Connect button. They would enter their information and hit the button. And when Facebook didn't appear they were truly and completely lost. Thats when they started commenting.

What does this have to do with GOSCON?

It's well known that some people don't know the difference between a browser and search engine. And when something like the Facebook story happens it's easy to laugh and call these people Web illiterate. I did until I saw the traffic stats and realized it wasn't funny, it was a huge issue. (A good portion of the traffic came from rubberneckers as the story went viral, but it's still fair to assume that tens of thousands of people made the mistakes that lead them to the story instead of Facebook.)

Things are so well designed for people on the Web, that a growing number of users don't ever come into contact with basic ideas like URLs (which we assume people at least understand as a way to verify a site or ascertain the safety of a link). We've made so easy that they don't need to understand -- it just works. And it's not generational; the comments on the story ranged from teenagers to the elderly. In five minutes I'll explain what happened -- from the funny to the serious -- and break down what those of us who work with the Web need to learn from it.

GovHub: Open Source and Open Government Collaboration

Speaker Information: GovHub is an Open Source software advocacy group designed to encourage and facilitate the adoption of Open Government principals and Open Source software within government and non-profit agencies.

The GovHub partners are Greg Lind a web based software developer and architect, currently employed by Metro Regional Government in Portland, Oregon. John Miller formerly of Lewis and Clark College and Metro and Jarhid Brown from Metro and formerly the Department of Defence.

Description:The GovHub presentation will have an introduction to the general ideals of GovHub and what we hope it will be, and then use 3 roles or characters to describe the problems when governments and open source developers try to work together and how GovHub and other collaboration tools like it can help solve those problems.

The first character will be the open source developer, who is trying to work with government data and services for his open source project as well as trying to propose open source tools as solutions for existing software RFP's.

The second character is a government analyst who wants to use open source tools and understands the advantages of standards compliant and interoperable software but is having trouble convincing management the value of software that is "free" and that support and long term contracts are possible. He is also struggling with how to collaborate with other governments who have already developed some of the tools he needs, but can't get an inter-government agreement to share code or data and desperately wants to collaborate.

The third character is the GovHub entity who wants to help facilitate collaboration between governments and open source software developers as well as provide business resources to help create and get contracts and ensure long term sustainability throughout a projects life cycle.

The back and forth between the characters would emphasize the common need for a place for these users to go to collaborate on projects and find mutually beneficial paths to financial and informational success. The end message would be for developers and public agencies to fuse tools like GovHub and others to get around the political red tape and get down to the real problem of creating better information systems for the public and the agencies themselves.

Operation Bearclaw: the real story behind OSS adoption in the US government

Speaker:John Weathersby

Affiliation: The Open Source Software Institute

URL: http://www.oss-institute.org/

Biography:John Weathersby is the founder and executive director of the Open Source Software Institute, a U.S.-based non-profit organization whose mission is to promote adoption of open source software solutions within government IT environments. Weathersby currently serves as an adviser on open source issues to a number of Federal and state government agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate and the Department of Defense. He is also a founding member of the Open Technology Research Consortium which serves to advance research and development opportunities between government, industry and community interests.

Description: Technical and economic benefits of open source software are well documented within the IT world. However, these traits alone are not what has enabled open source to find a home within much of the government's massive enterprise system. This presentation will reveal some of the seldom discussed, yet essential tools and tactics that have directly lead to wide spread open source adoption within the US Department of Defense and Federal Government agencies.

The Government as Community Curator

Speaker: Justin Houk

Affiliation: WhereCampPDX and programmable web

URL: http://geopdx.net

Biography:Justin Houk has worked for the Metro,the Portland area regionally elected government, for eleven years. During that time he has focused on geographic data creation and outreach on projects ranging from natural resource protection to population forecasts. Metro coordinates and standardizes many data sources from it's member governments and helps governments purchase technology though regional consortiums.

Justin is very active in the Portland community and involved in several technology blogs. He has been one of the organizers of WhereCampPDX for the past two years and helped to convene a conference called OpenGov West in Seattle in 2010. He has recently interned with and written posts for ReadWriteWeb. He currently is a contributer at ProgrammableWeb.com where he writes about open data and government APIs.

Description: It's not enough to simply open data and have an API. Government needs to get better at fostering communities around all of it's services. To do this it needs to divest itself of some control and invest in communities that are already working. Curating existing communities around data and services is critical for future success. Can we create a joiner government that supports civic participation at all levels?

Better than Winning the World Series: Boston Opens Real-Time Transit Data

Speaker: Laurel Ruma

Affiliation: O'Reilly Media

URL: @laurelatoreilly

Biography:Laurel Ruma is the Gov 2.0 Evangelist at O'Reilly Media and co-chair of the Gov 2.0 Expo. She joined the company in 2005 after working for five years at various IT analyst firms in the Boston area. Laurel is also co-editor of Open Government, published by O'Reilly in 2010.

Description:What happens when you combine two risk-taking government employees, an active developer community, and a bus schedule? Unlimited amounts of innovation, improved customer service, praise for an embattled government agency, and a model for building a government/citizen developer partnership. Hear how the Massachusetts Department of Transportation learned from TriMet that open is better.

Principal Versus Law. How rules create crime, how Ideas prevent them

Speaker: Lou Alvis

Biography: Lou Alvis has been politically and socially active for 30 years. During that time I have worked with 6+ political parties on national, state and local levels. I work in the science of Anthrodynamics, a multi-disciplinary examination of human behavior, with emphasis on neurological and cultural influence.

Description:Laws are a machine, and not a very smart one. Principles are living parts of your mind, and can adapt to new conditions. Accessing laws requires Expensive specialists, Principles are available to the understanding of all.

Here we shall challenge the most basic idea of government, the Rule of Law. The goal is to replace the heavy handed mechanistic methods of the 17th century legal system with a simpler, practical, reflexive system of legal principles. These can be applied without obtuse, specialized expertise. The principle of Voluntary Association will be our test example. Open source government will be the affirmative proposition.

Why middleware is the key to a successful gov 2.0

Speaker: Max Ogden

URL: http://maxogden.com

Biography: Max Ogden is a developer, open government and CouchDB enthusiast from Portland, OR. One of his recent projects, PDXAPI, is a developer interface to civic geo datasets in Portland, OR. Max recently accepted a position as a Code for America fellow for their inaugural 2011 CfA fellowship program.

Description: Embracing Tim O'Reilly's concept of 'Government as a Platform' is easier said than done. I want to share some of my lessons learned on actually building the 'platform'. My talk will include methods and best practices for both developers and non-developers to refer to when negotiating open government data contracts with local governments.

The Municipal Web: Open311 and a Network of Civic Services

Speaker: Philip Ashlock

Affiliation: OpenPlans

URL: http://phil.ashlock.us/

Biography: Phil coordinates municipal open governance initiatives, including Open311 and OpenMuni. Phil is also an accomplished web-designer, and his work is showcased in such websites as OpenGeo and GothamSchools. Previously, he designed and built websites at his alma mater, Western Washington University.

In addition to design, Phil enjoys exploring the natural world, photography, programming, and of course: pragmatic utopian idealism. He also enjoys his daily bicycle commute across the East River. You can follow him @philipashlock.

Designing and Developing Effective and Efficient Municipal Websites

Speaker: Rami Kassab

Affiliation: Typethink

URL: @ramikassab

Biography: Rami Kassab is the CEO and co-founder of Typethink, a creative web design and development firm located in the heart of Portland. Rami headed Typethink's initiative to expand into the municipal sector through their custom web application development services. Typethink has since contracted with the City of St. Helens to design and develop a new branded website offering a comprehensive set of services to their residents. Through their collaboration with St. Helens, Typethink has put together a partnership program in order to engage other cities for the multi-year development project.

Rami is a graduate of Oregon Statue University where he majored in Computer Science and minored in both Business and Multimedia.

The Value of Voice: How much is your tweet worth to legislators?

Speaker: Sarah Schacht

Affiliation: Knowledge As Power

URL: @sarahschacht

Biography:Sarah Schacht is founder and executive director of Knowledge As Power, a 501c3 with online services helping citizens track legislation and communicate effectively with legislators. She's spent the last decade researching communications patterns and technology solutions for the legislative process. She's worked within Congress, designed technology solutions for citizen advocates, trained on international XML in government standards, and launched a successful conference series called Open Gov West. She's been a Republican, a Democrat, and now happily resides outside the political spectrum.

Schacht lives in Seattle, loves her work, and occasionally finds time to surf.

Description:Do electeds and lawmakers weigh the importance communication styles differently? What's the going rate for a tweet on the political communications market these days? Do you really know what kind of impact you're making with that petition or form letter?

In an advocacy world where everyone's got an opinion to voice, few people know how much weigh is--and isn't-- given to different types of political advocacy.

The human brain assigns levels of value to everything, even the communications from other humans. Find out in this Ignite talk where you should invest your voice.

Lessons Learned from a Regional Approach to Open Data and Civic Apps

Speaker: Skip Newberry

Affiliation: Economic Development Policy Advisor to Portland Mayor Sam Adams

URL: http://civicapps.org/

Biography: Skip Newberry serves as Economic Development Policy Advisor to Portland Mayor Sam Adams. A significant portion of Skip s work focuses on developing initiatives to support Portland s software and digital media industries. Last year, Skip s projects included helping to draft the City of Portland s open source procurement and open data policy, which was adopted by Portland City Council in September of 2009. Since then, he has been working with Portland s Bureau of Technology Services to launch Civic Apps for Greater Portland the nation s first regional open data and software application design contest. Other recent projects include contributing to the development of a community broadband strategy for Portland and identifying ways for local government to serve as a test market for new and innovative technology.

Description: Since Washington, DC, launched Apps for Democracy, the popularity of public sector open data initiatives and software application design contests has been on the rise at the State and local levels. Nevertheless, these initiatives face three major challenges, and all three relate to support and adoption:

  1. support and adoption from public sector agencies, departments, bureaus, and elected officials;
  2. support and adoption from software developers; and
  3. support and adoption from the users of software apps and open data.

In the near future, collaboration amongst different jurisdictions in standardizing data across local, county, state, and international boundaries will pose significant challenges. I do not think these are insurmountable. This presentation will focus on the regional nature of a modest open data and app design contest in the Portland area called Civic Apps for Greater Portland, and will attempt to share lessons learned.

In June of 2009, the City of Portland decided that it wanted to launch an open data and open source software application design contest to improve transparency and efficiency in local government through community participation and raise the visibility of our talented developers and programmers in the local software community. Before launching these initiatives, the City first developed a strategy that attempted to address the three major challenges outlined above. To address the first challenge, the City decided that the initiative had to be regional in scope, and the City would have to make participation in the open data initiative as close as possible to cost-neutral for the City s regional partners. To address the second challenge, the City decided to convene a group of software developers and advocates from the local software community, which was defined broadly, to help design the open data initiative and the software application design contest. Finally, to address the third challenge, the City and its regional partners have been working with the community since the launch of the contest to support ideas and events that are largely community-driven. This presentation will conclude with a brief overview of next steps for the Civic Apps initiative.

In short, I will tell a story about how the City of Portland managed to overcome the sources of its initial fear, trepidation and insecurities stemming from its bulk data and lack of an API, only to be embraced (so far) by the community. I will also talk about how the community gave the City confidence and inspiration to provide even more data in the future, and to move from becoming purely a sponsor to an active participant. Most importantly, this presentation will serve as an introduction to a member of the Portland community who also happens to be a prolific contributor to Civic Apps, Max Ogden, who has prepared an Ignite presentation about Civic Apps and the Civic Web, but from the community s perspective.

Learning from Bangalore: Urban Informatics at Street Level

Speaker: Zack Denfeld

Affiliation: Pacific Northwest College of Art

URL: http://www.zackdenfeld.com/

Biography: Zack Denfeld is an artist who splits his time between Bangalore, India and Portland, OR. From 2006-2008 he helped edit the Emerging Economy Report for the Center for Knowledge Societies. Earlier this year he spent 6 months at CSTEP, a Think Tank in India that uses Agent Based Modeling and serious gaming to shape urban and next generation infrastructure policy.

He also teaches at PNCA in Portland and is the outreach coordinator for the Center for Genomic Gastronomy.

Description: In this talk I will describe a number of official and improvised uses of mobile and urban computing technology I have observed in urban India, especially Bangalore. In some cases a lack of traditional hard urban infrastructure directs people to create informational workarounds, in other cases emerging technology drives non-traditional user patterns which play our very differently than in an American city or context. What lessons can we learn from the way institutions and individuals use Urban Informatics in Bangalore?