The Universal Constant of Open Government and Open Data

By: Richard Pietro, January 15, 2014

political cartoon

Open Government and Open Data have the potential to change everything…and in a good way.

Those who are in the space would agree with me. Those who are NOT in the space would say that I’m seeing the World in rose coloured glasses.

The thing that makes OpenGov/OpenData so different is that it is rooted in values, not policy. Open Government and Open Data may be used as political tools to advance an agenda, but fundamentally, they are the answer to people’s profound lack of trust with their government and lack of involvement in their community

People WANT to be involved…they WANT to know…they just don’t know how to go about it. Enter: Open Government and Open Data.

That’s why anyone who uses OpenGov/OpenData as just another tool to leverage a position will surely fail. Because OpenGov/OpenData aren’t a policy matter (like raising or lowering taxes). They are the pulse of society that is asking for a more balanced World.

For many people, this is hard to visualize. It is a very abstract way of thinking, and unfortunately, many of our most trusted institutions have trained us to limit our creative juices. For those individuals, I think an email I sent to the CitizenBridge team last year does a great job of demonstrating the mindset behind the Open Government and Open Data movements.

—————-

From: Richard Pietro [mailto:richard@citizenbridge.org]
Sent: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 2:53 AM
To: ‘CitizenBridge Team’
Subject: CitizenBridge Values

When this idea was first born, we were just trying to bring a little technology in an environment that we felt seriously lacked any kind of forward thinking.

As we delved deeper in Gov 2.0, we learned there was already a large playground being formed by many different people, in many different places, with many different visions on how Open Government and Open Data could change Society.

I have no doubts that the Open Government movement will set-off many different versions of the same thing…whether they are restaurant ratings apps or online budgetary tools. The only true constants will be the values, and I firmly believe that any initiative in this space will only succeed if the people behind those initiatives understand those values.

It is important to keep in mind one thing: Open Government exists because people wanted to bring about a more transparent, accountable and collaborative Government in a World where they only found closed doors, broken promises, and spin-mastery.

Tim O’Reilly famously observed that Open Government will transform Governments from “do-ers” to “enablers.” It will give the tools necessary for ordinary citizens to bring about the change they want to see in their community.

…and I believe that, as an organization, CitizenBridge should be no different. We can go back and forth about the details, but much like how Profit defines the Corporate World, Values define the Open World.

We are not immune to the transition our society is facing, and it will be difficult to re-adjust to a new way of thinking. That’s why it is so important that CitizenBridge grounds itself in the Open Government values and be mindful of the distractions that will send it on tangents.

I remember once thinking that I would dedicate my life to CitizenBridge and that someday it would probably even define my life…but, I was so wrong. And now, I finally get it.

CitizenBridge does not define my life. It enables my life.

I hope it will for you as well.

@richardpietro
Founding Member of CitizenBridge.org | @citizenbridge

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