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Content about Computing

September 17, 2013

We must enhance the quality of government developer portals, and we must work harder (and faster) to develop shared standards for government data and APIs. Most importantly, we have to do more to share tips, tricks and best practices between governments. There are some tools out there to get governments started down the road of building a developer center that is impactful and engaging, but we must do more.

By Mark Headd

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the most recent PennApps hackathon – a biannual college hackathon in Philadelphia that has grown from somewhat humble beginnings a few years ago to one of the largest college hackathons in the world.

Penn Apps logo

September 12, 2013

The state of Texas is anticipating the passage of House Bill 889, which requires that certain governmental bodies make audio and video recordings of open meetings available on the Internet. With over 1,300 government bodies that meet the criteria, this move will single-handedly make Texas the most public-access friendly state in the nation.

EDITOR: This is a pretty interesting development.  Is anyone seeing a legislative movement of this type elsewhere?  If so, let me know at della@engagingcities.com 

from granicus.com By Maryann Mooney 

August 30, 2013

They’ve shown your consultation some love by taking the time to have a say. Show them some in return by saying THANKS!

by Tracey Gobey

I subscribe to a great online marketing blog, Social Triggers, and once again Derek Halpern has delivered BIG in thought provoking content.

His blog focuses on how  psychology helps boost online traffic and sales. While it is marketing and sales focused, I strongly believe that some of the techniques and strategies from this space are vital in getting, and keeping, communities engaged online.

July 23, 2013

These efforts have helped to create a vast new virtual town square. Unfortunately, that square is still a noisy, unruly place. Like much of the Web, .gov is plagued by signal-to-noise issues, many of which are exacerbated by the unique rules and traditions of each branch.

from e-pluribusunum.com.  By Alexander Howard
July 15, 2013

The real power of civic hacking lies in the delicate balance that schoolcuts.org is starting to show us.  On the one hand, the great potential-- and the thing that can make civic hacking so much more powerful than conventional advocacy-- is that objectivity, that trustworthiness, that comes from the emphasis on transparency and open data.  Frankly, that's a power, a level of standing, that those of us who have been advocates wish we could claim. 

 

The other side, though, is that enabling that change to happen, living up to that potential, is going to require determination and consistency-- and an internal personal or organizational answer to a tough question: 

 

How do I sustain this effort, keep investing my limited time and energy, if I don't have a personal stake in the outcome?

Since schoolcuts.org  first launched … the team has been working around the clock to add new features and information to the site.

One of the weakness of the civic hacking movement is a tendency to launch a new civic app based on some newly released dataset and then never touch the app or the issue again.

July 11, 2013

It's hard to quantify the impact of Hack for Western Mass. All nine challenges presented by community partners produced projects we hope will have a lasting effect. As we saw recently at our follow-up gathering, many of them are still hacking away.

In the meantine, I designed an infographic to share what Hack for Western Mass looked like by the numbers:

From hackforwesternmass.org.   By MollyMcLeod

It's hard to quantify the impact of Hack for Western Mass. All nine challenges presented by community partners produced projects we hope will have a lasting effect. As we saw recently at our follow-up gathering, many of them are still hacking away.

July 5, 2013

Too often, government rules and regulations constrain the souring of talent and suppliers. NUM provides entrepreneurs with a safe place to innovate on city projects. Prototypes coming out of NUM tend to be small-duration, hyper-local projects that have a high risk for failure but could also provide important learnings for the city.

Bloomberg Philanthropies saw the promise in bringing the civic and tech communities together: earlier this year, they awarded the City of Philadelphia as one of the finalists for the Mayors Challenge.

From ICIC.org.

Tens of thousands of students are sticking around Philadelphia each year upon graduation—a problem most cities would crave to have. But this has resulted in a growing demand for city services, despite shallow city coffers.

With this trend in mind, the City of Philadelphia has reached out to local tech entrepreneurs to see if they can collaborate to procure services for less.

July 5, 2013

Dubbed a Liberty Hackathon, the theme of the gathering was “promoting liberty with the use of technology.” That’s certainly unusual for this kind of competition, but the real source of contention was the event’s sponsor, Charles Koch, the CEO of energy company Koch Industries. Among other things, Koch is well known for giving to right-of-center causes.

From pandodaily.com.  By Eric M. Jackson

Lincoln Labs held its first hackathon this past weekend in San Francisco. While most hackathons provoke little notice except by participants, this event was not only noted in the press, but it also generated some controversy.

July 2, 2013

In fact, based on the federal government's FY12 budget actual expenditures of $3.538 trillion, federal IT managers could potentially recognize nearly $500 billion in savings across the federal government via big data initiatives, according to a new study by MeriTalk.

From http://www.cio.com.au.  By 

Despite the challenges of the budget sequestration that went into effect on March 1, federal agencies are pressing forward with big data initiatives, hoping to squeeze big savings out of more efficient use of their data.

July 2, 2013

How a website is built or designed may seem mundane to many people, but when the site in question is focused upon such an important function, what it looks like and how it works matter. Last week, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) relaunched Healthcare.gov with a new appearance and modern technology that is unusual in federal-government websites.

Excerpted from http://www.theatlantic.com.  By Alexander Howard.
July 2, 2013

The lesson: If hackathon attendees don’t understand why they are there, it will be tough for them to stay emotionally and rationally connected to the objective.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when organizing a hackathon:

June 27, 2013

In thinking about all of this, I realized that there was still no complete definition of civic hacking which encompassed the range of approaches, acts, and participants the movement has come to represent. Within such an expansive and rapidly changing context, maybe there never will be a singular definition — and more importantly, maybe there shouldn’t be. At the same time, the most successful movements in history have stemmed from a common vision — while also embracing their own diversity and leaving room for that collective vision to grow and evolve over time. - See more at: http://codeforamerica.org/2013/06/07/defining-civic-hacking/#sthash.glKWaqmT.dpuf

From codeforamerica.org.  By Jake Levitas

 

June 27, 2013

In the coming years, there will be a shift toward what is now known as contextual computing, defined in large part by Georgia Tech researchersAnind Dey and Gregory Abowd about a decade ago. Always-present computers, able to sense the objective and subjective aspects of a given situation, will augment our ability to perceive and act in the moment based on where we are, who we’re with, and our past experiences. These are our sixth, seventh, and eighth senses.

From fastcodesign.com.  By Pete Mortensen
June 26, 2013

Here's what I actually said: hackathons don't solve problems – and certainly not big problems. The big problems are big for a reason. They're hard, bordering on intractable, and people are working to solve these problems constantly, spending much more energy and resources than a single hackathon could ever do. There is nothing magical about putting a bunch of technologists and creatives in a room which will suddenly solve disasters, world crises, the economy, or anything else

From civic.mit.edu. By Charlie Detar
June 25, 2013

This excellent document gives "practical guidance to City of Philadelphia departments and agencies on the release of open data to the public." It's clear, well-written well-organized and designed to make policy and practical sense to non-technical City Staffers. If you're having trouble getting your community to understand why open data matters and how to practically and efficiently make it happen, this may provide a good start.

This excellent document gives "practical guidance to City of Philadelphia departments and agencies on the release of open data to the public." It's clear, well-written well-organized and designed to make policy and practical sense to non-technical City Staffers. If you're having trouble getting your community to understand why open data matters and how to practically and efficiently make it happen, this may provide a good start.

Have at it!

June 20, 2013

"I’ve long believed that the Internet has the potential to change how society operates in a fundamental way.  It’s something Johnson refers to as peer progressivism.  Civic crowdfunding on a large scale could well be a fundamental part of that.  Exciting times indeed."

 

May 30, 2013

Let's make a deal: you go do great stuff at your local hack, write about it, take pictures.  Then send us your reflections, link us to your blog or YouTube or Instagram feed, or tag us on your tweets, and we'll share as much of your good stuff as we can with readers all over the world. 

May 30, 2013

 

CROWDED, hot, boring: commuting is rarely enjoyable. Interactive games might help make your journey pass more quickly and pleasantly.

Chad Toprak of the Exertion Games Lab at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues have developed a game called Cart-Load-o-Fun that can be installed on buses, trains or trams.

"Back in the 70s we had games arcades," he says. "People would gather and a community would build up." But today people play games either at home or in a private bubble on their phones. Toprak wants to put games back into public space.

From newscientist.com

"CROWDED, hot, boring: commuting is rarely enjoyable. Interactive games might help make your journey pass more quickly and pleasantly.

May 28, 2013

If we are going to sustain America’s economic prosperity, we’re going to need a lot of hackers.

From hackpaloalto.org :

May 23, 2013

"Community board staff spend hours collating and retyping meeting minutes into “dumb” Word documents; community members interested in a particular issue find it nearly impossible to construct a history of that issue from the available information; and community board members themselves often must rely on institutional memory...."

 

Ed note: This looks like a great idea to me -- neighborhood and community organizations get hamstrung by their lack of ability to access their own history easily.  This is only available in New York now, but can you see this benefitting organizations in your community?   What would you change to make it more effective in your context?

May 23, 2013

Councils across the country are using open innovation events such as hacks, challenges, camps and jams, as well as creating innovation centres, to help them use cutting-edge technology and new ways of thinking to cope with the gloom associated with disappearing budgets.

From The Guardian, article by Lucy Watt and Quentin Johns

 

 

May 13, 2013

A startup based in downtown Boston, BlockAvenue has divided up the U.S. into a small pieces, and then aggregated as much data as it can find to start telling stories about them.