More Thoughts on Tech/Civics Things

I went to the OpenGovWest meetup last night, which I sort of flubbed by arriving 40 minutes late (I thought the meeting started at 7pm, not 6). But I got there in time for most of the discussion, which ranged from “what does this group want to be doing?” to “why is the city/county RFP process so obtuse?”

A recurring theme was the need for hubs, info centers, central communication points. I said something about needing a telephone tree, which led one of those “this is too simple to work” insights: if the lowest common denominator of government technology usage is email, and we need a contact point for government to talk to the indie tech community, why don’t we give them an email address to cc, and filter or redistribute it on our side? I mean, the PDC sent out notes from the meeting at w+k, and how did they distribute that? Email. How visible is email to people not on the list? Right. But that gap, that’s just tech stuff, filtering and rebroadcasting and we totally know how to do that. So Reid will set up an email alias to use and we’ll start tinkering.

I’m also thinking about creating a tumblr for CivicApps. There’s a communication/visibility problem for the project, because they’re on Twitter, but Twitter posts are transient. They scroll off the screen and cease to exist (in our immediate consciousness). There’s a mailing list now which is great for discussion, and a news page on the site, but it’s all press releases and the link is buried at the bottom of the page. One of the things I like about Tumblr is that it makes it easy to combine content from a variety of sources, and you can configure it so other people can submit posts.

Yeah, why not. I can always delete it if it’s not useful. If you’re working on something CivicApps related you want to see posted/linked, send it to me.

One of the other things I’ve been trying to do it sort out the various needs and pieces of this. There’s the “how does the tech community talk to the government” piece. The “how do we address the business needs of small businesses and startups” piece. A professional development / community-building piece that often comes back to “we want a community collaboration space” and “getting sponsors & volunteers for events”. And some things that stretch outside of Portland or the region, like “connecting our CivicApps and OpenGov activities with the global government transparency effort”. Each one might need different tools, have different people involved.

And now I’m at the end of my lunch break, and the MEX/FRA game is over, so I’ll post this.

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