PDF 2010 (#pdf10): Technology’s Impact on Government


I’m attending the Personal Democracy Forum 2010 today, an event about how technology can impact politics and government. Here are some vignette’s from the event in New York City this morning:

Vietnam whistle blower Daniel Elsberg was quick to note that while technology is neat, it has not fostered transparency. And it has not hastened whistle blowing. Dan noted that from Obama on down, the current administration is lying just as much as any administration (he cited the oil spill).

Elsberg cited that Obama’s prosecution of George W. Bush Administration whistleblowers as a critical backwards step. It takes courage to tell the truth to the public, and we punish them, forcing closed doors.

Sunlight Foundation‘s Clay Johnson spoke about founding Blue State, and how the model no longer works. Campaigns need to be more than email. He said wee need to use technology to resolve problems. We need apps and other tools to support that. Clay then called out a bunch of nonprofits — including the Heritage Foundation — for not using government data.

Anil Dash said open government won’t happen unless we create the applications with data. Cites his project at Expert Labs to get people to become as big of a challenge as getting to the moon. The crowdsourcing accorded on the White House’s Twitter and Facebook page.

Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org, talked about how Google Facebook, Google personalization and how it creates a filter bubble. It’s a detriment to Democracy, and code has feelings, feelings about ideas. He really seemed to be ranting on coding filters in Google and Facebook, IMO. People need to learn how to use the Internet.

Jane Hamsher talked about how big companies and industries have a stranglehold on Congress and elected Presidents. She named example after example, BP, Haliburton, etc., etc. She used tribalism as logic, specifically with brow beating get in line messaging from the parties. Regardless of the issue, the problem always remains. The online world has itself become lost in partisan silos and only has rare victories.