Yesterday I had a great conversation with the CIO of a large U.S. city. I was happy to see that he shared some of my views about the limitations of open data initiatives.
As I said a few times, while opening government data is great for transparency, what value it can create is yet to be discovered. Further, considerations about costs and risks rarely surface the discussions driven by open government enthusiasts.
This morning (my time) I found an interesting tweet by Tim O’Reilly (the inventor of the much popular definition of “government as a platform”), pointing to a blog post by Nat Torkington about Rethinking Open Data, which makes the same case I’ve been making for quite some time. What was even more remarkable is that in his tweet Tim says “Funny, I was in DC last week saying much the same thing”.
I do remember the discussion I had with Tim on this blog back in September 2009, when he looked like wholeheartedly supporting the open data approach, pretty much along the “if you build it, they will come” line, which Nat now criticized.
If Tim decided to take a more balanced view, this is great news, given how influential he is in the field. Maybe the other (Sir) Tim (Berners-Lee) who pulls the strings of open government in the UK could get some inspiration and advise the UK government about costs and risks before it’s too late.
My client conversation and Nat’s blog post made me think again about how to convey more effectively my point about the symmetry of government 2.0 (see the picture in a previous post). If one side of the relationship is “government as a platform”, the other side sounds like “citizens as a platform“. Citizens create data and engagement avenues that government can use pretty much like government provides data and creates engagement avenues. These two views are the yin and yang of government 2.0.