Gov 2.0 Expo Live Blog Day 2

Expo Booth Crawl with David Hale

I played a bit of hooky and went on a booth crawl with David to see if I could round up some free stuff.  Yes, the days of free stuf from college fairs is far from over!  Palantir had some awesome coffee mugs, but even better than that was the conversation we all had.  They were really interested in playing with Pillbox and getting engaged in some CHDI stuff – I think they’ve convinced me that I need to go to that conference, and also to Health 2.0.  There’s so much cool, collaborative, and innovative stuff that’s going on it’s just hard to keep up with it all!  One thing that I do especially love about conferences is the free beer…..  Can’t beat anything that’s free as in beer.

Working Transparently at the Bottom of the Government – Debra Louison Lavoy and Michael Edson

This is cool.  There’s some great stuff coming out of the Smithsonian and some great information on how to spur this from the bottom up.  I think that really is the most important thing though, working from the bottom up.  Managers can’t do it all, it’s got to come from the employees who are engaged with the citizens.  I hope I can find the transcript and the slides for this online somewhere!


I got completely distracted at lunch and left for an Indian restaurant next to Hooters in Chinatown.  Yes… yes I know what I said makes very little sense.

Had a great talk with the social media frontrunners / open government ninjas of the Dept of Health and Human Services.  Absolutely fantastic.  I think I’m coming away from this conference with some great ideas to really foster some great collaborations across the Department.  Let’s see how far this goes!

Open Government Ninja 101David Hale

Slides & transcript available here (got it from David’s twitter).
I finally got to meet several folks that I’ve been talking to with regard to OpenGovernment initiatives (David Hale included).  This is a great talk to start the morning (afternoon).

David’s going through the features of Pillbox, a great application that allows the public to identify and learn about pills.  He just showed a screenshot of “pharmvillerx” – hilarious!

Through the participation of outside developers, the National Library of Medicine has successfully seen outside groups solve challenges through the use of putting data out to the public.

David’s giving a history lesson of ninjas, tying it into Open Government.   =).

Some concepts: Use existing tools in new and exciting ways.  Shoutout to Andrew Wilson’s use of a RSS aggregator to combine the random RSS feeds that spaghetti out of the Department of Health and Human Services.  Data needs to be structured to become contextually relevant to the users, not to be compliant with regulations.

Check it out:

This probably is the most important thing that David discusses (I’m paraphrasing a bit): “Your citizens are the CONTEXT experts.”  Activity: Get out of the office and engage with citizens!  Not everyone has access to technology, this will help program owners understand how users use data.  David Hale suggests creating personas, this definitely sounds a lot like the Geico customer profiles that hang from the walls at the Geico corporate office when I used to work there.  Community engagement: ask for help!  Need champions to help out.

Users don’t necessarily need data sets – maybe the idea is that we need API’s.  This sounds like a fantastic idea – instead of dumping loads and loads of data onto the web, why not release the API?  I think David’s API Catalog vision is awesome, I hope it comes true.

Running a secret project?  Heck it sounds like it should apply to any project.  Mission aligned, small and iterative, fail fast, have cover, management buy-ins.  The key concepts to pretty much any project.

Single most important aspect of Pillbox’s success?  Collaboration.   Moving beyond IT and health, how can one use collaboration to better do the things we do on a day to day basis?  Government, nonprofit, profit, or even in random life?

Updates from Day 2:
You’ll notice more in depth updates.  I brought my laptop today instead of relying on my phone.