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Five (Not So Serious) Proposals to Make Open Government Cooler

by Andrea Di Maio  |  March 1, 2010  |  3 Comments

After 18 months of writing about government 2.0 and open government in this blog, it is time for some levity.

People do not really engage in these endeavors, which are still of interest for professionals and activists. How can one make open government more interesting? As I have said many times, one key ingredient is not to draw people to open government channels, but to bring open government where people are.

So, here are five possible ways of doing so, by using TV as a media. You should not take them too seriously of course. Or should you?

Open Government Idol. A group of citizen-developers perform in a coding contest which is broadcasted on several media. Besides programming, contestants are expected to read or sing their lines of code aloud. Audience can vote for the best coder based on a combination of usefulness of applications, choice of programming language, pitch and tone in reading lines of code.

Open Brother. A group of citizen-developers is locked into a house, where they are being watched 24×7 coding as well as eating and socializing – sleeping is an undesirable option. Every week they are given a supply of food, drinks and open data that they should exploit in the course of the week. Audience can vote them out based on a combination of criteria, including usefulness of applications and physical appearance.

24 (Open Edition). An undercover government programmer has 24 hours to neutralize a plot by a terrorist group secretly funded by a proprietary commercial-off-the-shelf software association that plans to plant a virus on the open source cloud platform hosting open government data. While doing so, he also thwarts a bomb threat on an airplane, intercepts an illegal nuclear weapon exchange in the Middle East, prevents the collapse of a large financial institution caused by a team of disgruntled employees, and successfully infiltrates a queue of Apple fans to secure a brand new iPad.

Open Dexter. A Miami-based forensic open data analyst investigates the disappearance of an open source programmer who was about to unveil the ultimate open government application. What the audience discovers as the plot unfolds, is that Dexter has a double life as a consultant to a commercial off the shelf provider, and overnight he forks open source software into code that gets patented and commercially sold by the company that hired him. In doing so, he follows an ethics code imparted by his deceased stepfather, a former executive in a large software corporation. He finally solves the case and the open government application gets revealed: unfortunately by then, most people are already downloading Dexter-developed apps, for a fee.

Open Government Olympics. Teams from different jurisdictions (nations, states, provinces, cities, boroughs) challenge each other in a variety of disciplines, such as the fastest coded open application (individual and team), the largest mashup, the open marathon (who falls asleep last while creating sequential mashups), the highest prize for an application contest (subprimes not allowed), the broadest and longest media coverage for an open government initiative. In between competitions, and in order to prevent TV ratings from falling, North American teams are engaged in hockey matches, while European teams organize soccer matches: the downside is that paying for the appearance of a single professional player in either of these disciplines vastly exceeds the entire budget for open government contests.

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Category: open-government-data  

Tags: humor  open-government  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
19 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies, open government, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Five (Not So Serious) Proposals to Make Open Government Cooler

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  2. Megan says:

    Or breaking out into concerts, dance parties, trance, raves, etc. – how about OpenGov Night, modelled after the SF Bay Area’s Yuris’ Night?

  3. @Megan – Great idea. What about “open movie classics”, such as:

    The Open Govfather. An influential businessman with Sicilian legacy is put in charge of a more aggressive implementation of the Open Government Directive. In doing so, he experiments with entirely new ways of engaging vendors (”This is an offer you can’t refuse”), agency executives (”on this web site I’ll have either your data or your brain”), as well as citizens (”I know people”).

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