Understanding the Many Communities within Open Government
It is tempting to think of the Open Government community as an undifferentiated body. I know I did until I attended a meeting of Open Government advocates, at which O'Reilly Media Washington correspondent Alex Howard turned an analytical eye on us and theorized that we're actually composed of many different pieces that are each integral to open government. His observation was that there are many constituencies within the broader open government community that often are working on very different problems, or sometimes the same problem from different perspectives.
Before I detail the different bodies (as I understand them) let me say why this is even important. I can be a proponent of open government, but my interest and expertise is in technological innovation (as an example). I may not know anything about transparency, say, or contracting and procurement, or citizen engagement. By teasing apart these communities, we allow people to play to their strengths and not become either bored or frustrated with issues in which they are not interested or not expert.
So, in the interest of helping people put a finer point on their own interests, let me propose understanding "Open Government" as the entirety of the following subcommunities:
Interest: opening up access to government information.
Example: Sunlight Foundation, Judicial Watch
- Citizen Innovation
Interest: Using private, open source, and/or proprietary technologies combined with government information to enhance citizens' lives.
Example: iStrategy Labs, MyCityWay
- Government Innovation
Interest: Using technologies and government information to enhance government operations.
Example: State Department (office of innovation, as one example, eDiplomacy as another), EPA (the Environmental Technology Opportunity Portal (ETOP), as one example, Environmental Technology Verification Program (ETVP) as another).
- Citizen Engagement
Interest: providing technologies that expand citizens' ability to communicate with their government.
Example: America Speaks, PopVox
- Government Engagement
Interest: providing technologies that expand governments' abilities to respond to citizens.
Example: NASA (blogs and Twitter and Twitter and Twitter and Twitter and. . . ) US Army (their Facebook,Twitter, and Blog, as examples)
Interest: reporting on and analyzing open government activities.
Example: O'Reilly Media, Federal Computer Week, and Federal News Radio
Are there other organelles that I've not seen? Let me know!