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GovCamp AU - Sharing the Learnings

Join us as we chat with Pia Waugh, organizer of September's GovCamp Australia, held in Canberra.

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The Great Threat of 'Free' to OpenGov

Nothing is free. We pay with our privacy, or with our taxes, or with foundation money, or investors' money, with our eyeballs and our influence, and sometimes we actually pay directly for goods, information and services.

The notion that somehow online and "open" government services are free is a great danger to the open government movement. 

Do I think that online access and standardized formats for much governmental information are important? Yes. Do I believe that open government data access in many instances saves money and spurs innovation and economic growth? Often. 

Does "public equal online"? OK.

But it sure as hell isn't free.

Every online service has to be paid for, and we're competing for tax resources against subsidized transit, the social safety net, public safety, teacher salaries and hundreds of other government services you and I probably value deeply. 

What will sustain the open government movement? Innovative and realistic funding models, and, yes, fees for service. In the best world, governments use minimal funding to create standardized "open" access to information, and companies build services on top of that information. An no, those services won't be free, not if they're to be sustainable.

There is a reason that companies like Socrata and and NIC Inc. are doing significant and lasting work in the e-Gov and Gov 2.0 spaces: they are for-profit businesses with focus, endurance and realistic funding models.

I don't want an OpenGov world where a slavish devotion to "free" means we don't acknowledge competition for scarce resources, or where rich benefactors and their foundation funding decide which initiatives are worthwhile. And in fact, if "free" is the mantra, there won't be an OpenGov future.

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8 Tips for Winning Twitter Petitions

From writing letters to newspapers to getting press coverage for a petition drive to creating buzz with new social media tools, media campaigns remain one of the most powerful tools in an activist's toolkit.

In case where you can identify a local congressperson, a key State Department official, an executive or other potential decision-maker who is active on Twitter and who could make a real difference in your cause, Twitter plus an activist tool called could make a real difference (I now work for's parent company, 3dna, but wrote the first version of this post before joining the company). is a simple Twitter petition tool built by Jim Gilliam. You can read a summary of how works and highlights of its recent successes here.

So, here's my advice for running a successful campaign:

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Blurtware - Social Media Crap Apps

It's not easy to think of an appropriately deprecating term for crap apps in a space where "Tweets," "chatter" and more are positive terms. However, it's time to start calling out all the horrible apps that contribute to and foster social media spam. 

These garbage apps help people spew identical content across all of their social media profiles, follow others practically at random and barf out TechCrunch links and bleating aphorisms from dead famous people to fill their "networks."

What apps do you nominate as social media "Blurtware"?

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California Laws Hackathon

Today I visited the first California Laws Hackathon in Berkeley on behalf of NationBuilder and BillTrack50. My friend Karen Suhaka, founder of BillTrack50, was hosting hackers in Denver to support the event.

More on the event here. Thanks to Maplight for hosting in Berkeley, and congrats to Ari Hershowitz of Tabulaw for making it happen.

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Tea Party Debate Veers into the Twilight Zone

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Gravity Summit - Harvard, Sept. 12 2011

On Monday at Harvard, I did a talk for Gravity Summit called, "A Lever Long Enough: The Internet and the Future of Organizing." BrightTALK streamed the event, and here are my speaking notes: 

Real-Time Marketing

But we're also opening a week of FutureM events - Long View

We're here because we need to know what's next. 

Perhaps we're networking for business, or career transition. Maybe we're learning more about social media trends we need for our jobs. 

But I want to go just a bit bigger than "real time" and "what's next." Let's talk a little bit about the future - and when we talk about the future of marketing, we've got to address the future of all things.

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Sharing with 911

I was a bit blue this week, and running light on ideas for a few writing and speaking gigs. One of the things that was really bothering me was the growing ubiquity of social media consultants and networking for the sake of networking (so I'll write about that soon ;).

Today though, I got out and spoke to the Northern California chapter of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials - International, Inc., or "NAPCO." One of my immediate concerns was that some of my Gov 2.0 material wasn't as fresh as it could be - I've been really focused on NationBuilder for the past few months and definitely am not as on top of things in the gov space as I had been. 

But speaking for 45 minutes with these public safety communications managers, I quickly regained my stride and was reinvigorated with the clear knowledge that I have something valuable to share. Social media and geolocation apps were largely foreign to these officials, and they really valued the information I had to offer. They also snapped up the 20 copies I brought of Bob Fine's The Social Media Monthly magazine, which I recommend as a handout for any crowd in the social media learning phase.

Getting out of the social media bubble is so important. And something I don't do enough of now that I work from a home office. 

Not only was I able to share with these 911 system experts about the amazing "Fire Department" app from the San Ramon Valley and our partner effort in San Francisco, I've also recently begun to learn about "Share With 911", another amazing geolocation/social media vision from public safety veteran Erik Endress, who I met through NationBuilder.

Definitely take a few minutes to give both of these a peek. 

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Evangelizing Open Data at the World Bank - Tariq Khokhar

Tariq Khokhar joined the World Bank in June 2011 as its first Open Data Evangelist. Gov 2.0 Radio's Adriel Hampton and Allison Hornery talk with Tariq about cheerleading the global development organization's collaborations with technologists and data geeks around the world to accelerate its mission. His message to open data advocates: If you want to see more from the World Bank, use the data!

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2.0 Meets Acts of Nature - Bryan Sivak

Steve Lunceford, Adriel Hampton and Allison Hornery talk with Bryan Sivak, new chief innovation officer for the State of Maryland, about innovating in government, and trying to keep a web-savvy citizenry up to speed during the recent DC-area earthquake and Hurricane Irene.

Photo by Kevin Shockey

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