First Ignite Smithsonian spreads enlightened ideas from the “nation’s attic”

Today in Washington, Ignite Smithsonian is bringing innovative ideas about museums, design, art, technology and culture to life. As with every Ignite, each speaker had 5 minutes and 20 slides to communicate his or her message.

Ignite Smithsonian is being streamed live online from the stage of the National Museum of the American Indian this morning from 10 AM EST to 12 PM EST.

“It is the responsibility of museum as stewards of memory to help citizens think critically,” said Neal Stimler in the first talk

The archive is embedded below.

http://www.ustream.tv/flash/viewer.swf

The Ignite format has been earning more interest in Washington and government in general over the past year or so. Last May, the State Department hosted a Haiti tech meetup that Brady Forrest helped to host “Ignite style.”

Here’s the lineup for this morning

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  • Phillip Auerswald: Creating a Place for the Future

    Phillip is an entrepreneurship enthusiast and aspiring innovation insurgent. Associate Professor, School of Public Policy, George Mason University; Associate, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University; Co-Founder and Co-Editor, Innovations journal (MIT Press). Follow @auerswald on Twitter.
  • Brett Bobley: Digging into Data Challenge

    Brett is Chief Information Officer for the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is also the Director of the agency’s Office of Digital Humanities (ODH). Follow @brettbobley on Twitter.
  • Katie Filbert and Sarah Stierch: Be GLAMorous: Join WikiProject GLAM/SI

    Katie and Sarah are long-time Wikipedians. Follow @filbertkm and @Sarah_Stierch on Twitter.
  • Vanessa Fox

    Vanessa is a Google alumni, author of Marketing in the Age of Google, Entrepreneur In Residence for Ignition Partners, founder of Nine By Blue. Follow @vanessafox on Twitter.
  • Elissa Frankle: Citizen History: Making History with the Masses

    Elissa is an education consultant at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Follow @museums365 on Twitter.
  • Tim Hart: Cultural Data Sculpting

    Tim is the Director of Information, Multimedia and Technology at Museum Victoria, Australia. Follow @timh01 on Twitter.
  • David Hart: The Cleveland Dilemma, Or How To Stop Making Things People Don’t Want

    David works in the Digital Media Department at MoMA, producing content for exhibitions and programs. Follow @senorcorazon on Twitter.
  • Carmen Iannacone: Hello, I’m a knowledge worker

    Carmen is the Chief Technology Officer at the Smithsonian Institution. Follow @SI_CTO on Twitter.
  • Clay Johnson

    Clay is a polycareerist: Founder of Blue State Digital, former Director of Sunlight Labs, government transparency and open data activist, Founder of Big Window Labs, Director of Engagement for ExpertLabs, and current author at infovegan.com. Follow @cjoh on Twitter
  • Martin Kalfatovic: ebooks for everybody

    Martin is a featherless bipedal librarian attempting to avoid extinction. Habitat: Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Follow @udcmrk on Twitter.
  • Steve Midgley: Learning Registry: free to be you and me

    Steve is the Deputy Director for Education Technology at the US Dept of Education, Education Director, FCC., Principal Mixrun. Program officer, Stupski Foundation. VP Engineering LoopNet. Grad school drop out. Follow @stevemidgley on Twitter.
  • Kevin Novak: The New White Space

    Kevin is the Vice President of Integrated Web Strategy and Technology for the American Institute of Architects, Co-chair of the W3C Electronic Government workgroup, Chair of the National Research Council/National Academies Panel on Communicating and Disseminating Engineering and Scientific Data for the National Science Foundation, former chair of the Internet in Developing Countries Task Force under the .MOBI Foundation, former Director of Web Services at the Library of Congress. Follow @NovakKevin on Twitter
  • Fiona Rigby: Making New Zealand Content Easier to Find, Share, Use

    Fiona is the Content Manager at DigitalNZ. Follow @nzfi on Twitter.
  • Margriet Schavemaker: The Museum as InnovatAR

    Margriet is an art historian, philosopher and media specialist. She’s the Head of Collections and Research at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Follow @marschave on Twitter.
  • Camilla SDO: Camilla – The Who & Why!

    Camilla is the mission mascot for the NASA Solar Dynamics Array. Follow @Camilla_SD on Twitter.
  • Simon Sherrin: Giving everyone a bite of the Apple

    Simon is the Technical Manager for the Victorian Cultural Network, Australia. Follow @thesherrin on Twitter.
  • Koven Smith: What’s the Point of a Museum Website?

    Koven is a composer, drummer, and Director of Technology at the Denver Art Museum. Follow @5easypieces on Twitter.
  • Neal Stimler: Renewing American Democracy Through Museums & Digital Culture

    Neal is the Associate Coordinator of Images in The Image Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Follow @nealstimler on Twitter.
  • Kate Theimer: How I Got Over My Hatred of "Archive" as a Verb, and Other Stories of Words and Evolutions

    Kate is the author of “Web 2.0 Tools and Strategies for Archives and Local History Collections” and the ArchivesNext blog. Former National Archives and Smithsonian Institution employee. Follow @archivesnext on Twitter.
  • Jasper Visser: A look at the wondrous world of automatic vending machines through the eyes of a museum professional

    Jasper is the project manager for new technology and media projects at the Museum of National History of the Netherlands. Follow @jaspervisser on Twitter.

Enjoy! You can follow the backchannel for the event at #IgniteSmithsonian on Twitter.

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Videos from the Web were interspersed with the speakers, like “Trade School.”

Or a flash mob doing the Hammer Dance.

Week in Review: Top Gov 2.0 and Open Government Stories

US Capitol Blooms

Open government made an appearance in popular culture, albeit not in an admiring sense. At the start of the week, Jon Stewart and the Daily Show mocked the Obama administration and the president for a perceived lack of transparency.

Stewart and many other commentators have understandably wondered why the president’s meeting with open government advocates to receive a transparency award wasn’t on the official schedule or covered by the media. A first hand account of the meeting from open government advocate Danielle Brian offered useful perspective on the issues that arose that go beyond a soundbite or one liner:

Gary, OMB Watch’s executive director, focused on the places where we have seen real change, including the Open Government Directive, the Executive Orders on Classified National Security and Controlled Unclassified Information, emphasis on affirmative disclosures of government information; and the President’s support of reporters’ privilege and shield law, as well as whistleblower protections.

Lucy, executive director for Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, pointed out that this was the first president in her 30 years of working in this field who had invited open government advocates into the Oval Office. She specifically thanked him for his strong support of a reporters’ shield law, which he affirmed he continues to support. Tom, executive director for the National Security Archive, emphasized that when it comes to FOIA reform and implementation we know it isn’t just a ship of state, but an entire flotilla including rowboats. And that while there has been notable improvement according to the National Security Archive’s survey of agencies, there continues to need be a need for leadership from the top to change cultures across the vast swath of government agencies. He also noted that we all believe the information we want to see is not simply that which is useful for consumers, but also that which holds the government accountable.

I knew my topic was likely to be sensitive. I began by thanking the President for his strong support of whistleblower protections, and noted that it was not for lack of effort on the part of the White House that the legislation didn’t pass at the end of the last Congress.

I noted, however, that the current aggressive prosecution of national security whistleblowers is undermining this legacy. That we need to create safe channels for disclosure of wrongdoing in national security agencies. That we need to work harder to shrink the amount of over-classified materials that unnecessarily prompt leak prosecutions.

The President shifted in his seat and leaned forward. He said he wanted to engage on this topic because this may be where we have some differences. He said he doesn’t want to protect the people who leak to the media war plans that could impact the troops. He differentiated these leaks from those whistleblowers exposing a contractor getting paid for work they are not performing. I was careful not to interrupt the President, but waited until he was done. I pointed out that few, if any, in our community would disagree with his distinction—but that in reality the current prosecutions are not of those high-level officials who regularly leak to the press to advance their policy agendas. Instead, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is prosecuting exactly the kind of whistleblower he described, for example one from the National Security Agency.

The President then did something that I think was remarkable. He said this is an incredibly difficult area and he wants to work through how to do a better job in handling it. He also agreed that too much information is classified, and asked us to work with his office on this. He wasn’t defensive nor was he dismissive. It was perhaps the dream moment for an advocate—hearing the most senior policymaker agree with you and offer to work together to tackle the problem.

Brian’s account is the most comprehensive account of the meeting on open government online. The irony that it was not recorded and released to the American people is, however, inescapable. For anyone tracking the progress of the Open Government Directive, the last six months have been an up and down experience. It was clear back in September that in the United States, open government remains in beta.

According to doctoral research by University of Texas academic, there are 358 open government projects in federal government. Former White House deputy chief technology officer Beth Noveck wrote about the semantics and the meaning of good government and open government mean in this context. One takeaway: don’t mistake open innovation policies for transparency guarantees.

The current White House deputy CTO for innovation, Chris Vein, wrote on the White House blog this week that the one year anniversary of open government plans were “a testament to hard work” at the agencies. As Vein acknowledged, “while there is always more to be done, we are proud of the important work that agencies have done and are doing to change the culture of government to one that encourages transparency and facilitates innovation.  We are committed to maintaining and building upon this momentum to make our Nation stronger and to make the lives of Americans better.”

Naturally, some projects are always going to be judged more as more or less effective in delivering on the mission of government than others. An open government approach to creating a Health Internet may be the most disruptive of them. For those that expected to see rapid, dynamic changes in Washington fueled by technology, however, the bloom has long since come off of the proverbial rose. Open government is looking a lot more like an ultramarathon than a 400 yard dash accomplished over a few years.

That said, something different is going on during what Micah Sifry has aptly called the age of transparency. We’re in new territory here, with respect to the disruption that new connection technologies represent to citizens, society and government. It’s worth taking stock of what’s happened recently. It’s been a while since I first posted a Gov 2.0 Week in Review at Radar, and three months since the 2010 Gov 2.0 year in review.

There’s a lot happening in this space. Following is a quick digest that might provide some perspective to those who might think that open government is a better punchline than policy.

1. The government stayed open. The budget crisis on Capitol Hill overshadowed every other issue this past week. It’s harder for a government to be open if it’s closed. The secrecy of the shutdown negotiations left folks over at the Sunlight Foundation wondering about how open government principles matched up to reality.

2. Proposed deep cuts to funding for open government data platforms like Data.gov or the IT Dashboard appear to be least partially restored in the new budget. That will likely salve (some of) the concerns of advocates like Harlan Yu, who wrote about what we would lose if we lost Data.gov. John Wonderlich’s questions on the budget deal, however, include one on exactly how much funding was restored.

3. FCC.gov relaunched as an open government platform. In any other week, this story would have led the list open government news. Having sat out the Aughts, FCC.gov stepped into the modern age FCC managing director Steve Van Roekel and his team worked hard to bring Web 2.0 principles into the FCC’s online operations. Those principles include elements of open data, platform thinking, collective intelligence, and lightweight social software. What remains to be seen in the years ahead is how much incorporating Web 2.0 into operations will change how the FCC operates as a regulator. The redesign was driven through an open government process that solicited broad comment from the various constituencies that visit FCC.gov. The beta.FCC.gov isn’t just a site anymore, however: it’s a Web service that taps into open source, the cloud, and collective intelligence. In the world of Gov 2.0, that’s a substantial reframing of what government can do online.

4. What happens to e-government in a shutdown? This near miss forced hundreds of thousands of people to consider how to make wired government go dark. That discussion should not end with this latest resolution.

5. The first NASA Open Source Summit explored why open source is a valuable tool for the space agency. Open source is a pillar of NASA’s open government plan.

6. The Russian blogosphere came under attack, quashing an online parliament initiative. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see if a Russian Gov 2.0 conference next week addresses the issue of press freedoms or open government transparency.

7. Simpl launched as platform to bridge the connection between social innovators and government.

8. National Builder launched as a new online activism platform.

9. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) reintroduced the Public Online Information Act. With this transparency bill, the federal government would acknowledge the Internet, opined Mother Jones.

10. SeeClickFix launches its Facebook app.. “It looks like the entire SeeClickFix experience has been ported over to the Facebook environment,” writes Dan Kennedy. “Users can report problems and pinpoint them on a Google map, thus alerting government officials and the news media. I am far from being the world’s biggest Facebook fan, but it’s a smart move, given how much time people spend there.”

Editor’s Note This is by no means a definitive, comprehensive list. For instance, there’s plenty of open government news happening in countries around the world, from corruption mashups in India to the transparency challenges in various states. For a daily dose of transparency, make sure to read the Sunlight Foundation’s blog IBM’s Business of Government blog has also posted a weekly round up. If you have more stories that came across your desktop, inbox or television this week, please share them in the comments.

As its Star Trek videos launch, Social Security tries to connect with younger citizens

Patty Duke and Mr. Sulu (aka, George Takei) want you to boldly go where you may never have gone before: SocialSecurity.gov. (At least if you’re under 65.)The short, commercial length spots make no bones about Takai’s time on Star Trek, so to speak, and are laced with references to the iconic television series.

In another, Takei and Duke encourage viewers to “Go Direct” to get direct deposits of monthly social security checks. (No way to beam those over, Scotty?) While the new slate of videos, Social Security is making an effort to connect with older Americans through the aging icons of 20th Century pop culture. As my colleague Luke Fretwell put it, Social Security has gone Star Trek.

If the spots help an increasingly digital cohort of senior citizens to learn about SocialSecurity.gov and relevant benefits, the cornball humor might have been worth the investment.

On the same day that the Star Trek videos launched however, the Social Security Administration also posted the full version of a webinar for young people wondering. The webinar, below, is the first official communications from the agency the contains information about the future of the program for young workers.

To say that there’s a contrast in styles between the two communication efforts is an understatement. The care with which the agency has had to take in communicating about an uncertain future, as opposed to trying to raise awareness of an improved website, is notable. This more recent example of how Social Security operates in the Gov 2.0 era drives how just how difficult operating in the new media environment will be for many agencies.

Will Social Security get social media? Hard to say. They’re trying. The @SocialSecurity Twitter wasn’t able to attract the attention of Takei or produce much engagement. Facebook produced slightly better results, but no obvious spike in awareness or viewership of the webinar.

If you have any thoughts on their success, failure or what they could or should be doing better, the comments are open.

ProPublica: Understanding the budget standoff and government shutdown [CHEATSHEET]

This ProPublica story by Marian Wang (@mariancw) is syndicated under a Creative Commons license. If you found it useful, make sure to follow @ProPublica on Twitter and do what ever else you can to support their Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporting. For more on this story, the Sunlight Foundation has also provided a helpful guide to the possible results of a government shutdown. -Editor.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress has two days to reach a budget deal to fund the government for the rest of the year or else come Saturday, the federal government will go into a partial shutdown.

But what’s the budget standoff all about and what would a shutdown really entail? Here’s our attempt to explain the basics:

Basics behind the budget standoff

The GOP and the Obama administration are currently locked in a standoff over a difference of $7 billion to $30 billion – miniscule amount of the total $3.5 trillion budget. (OMB Watch, an open government group, has a thorough account [1] of the budget battles that led up to this point.)

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein has a simple summary [2] of the GOP’s budget proposal, put forward by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on Tuesday: It lowers corporate taxes and taxes on the wealthy, extends the Bush tax cuts permanently, calls for repeal of both the health care law and Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and freezes discretionary spending at 2008 levels.

The Obama administration has offered to cut $33 billion from current spending levels but hasn’t given many specifics about what those cuts would entail

Political calculations

The negotiations have been a bit complicated for a few reasons. The first is that it’s not always clear what the two sides are using as the baseline [3] for cuts — whether it’s current operating levels or Obama’s proposed budget for 2011 (which never passed). Both parties have at times used the 2011 budget proposal as a baseline, making the cuts sound more impressive.

Another reason it’s been hard to nail down numbers is that Republicans haven’t always been on the same page.  The Tea Party-supported GOP freshmen, who aren’t at the negotiating table, have stuck to a hard line on the budget. House Speaker John Boehner, who is at the negotiating table, says there’s “no daylight between the tea party and me.”

But it’s clear that in the run-up to the November elections, the GOP pledged $100 billion in cuts, and when the House in February proposed [4] a list of somewhat scaled back spending cuts closer to the Obama administration2019s current offer, House leaders got grief from some GOP freshmen [5] and pledged the next day to cut a full $100 billion. (That’s using [6] President Obama’s never-enacted 2011 budget as a baseline, so it translates to about $61 billion in cuts from current levels.)

Boehner, moreover, pledged not to stop at $100 billion [7], according to Time magazine: “We’re not going to stop there,” he said at CPAC. “Once we cut the discretionary accounts, then we’ll get into the mandatory spending. And then you’ll see more cuts.”

But this week, he reportedly told President Obama that he could probably agree to about $40 billion in cuts [8] (using current levels at the baseline). That’s still $7 billion more than the administration has offered to cut. Democrats have complained that the GOP keeps shifting its goalposts [9] for compromise.

How a shutdown works

At agencies whose budgets are subject to Congressional appropriations, workers are put in two groups: essential or non-essential.

Essential workers keep working though they won’t get paid until funding is back again. Non-essential workers will be furloughed, so they won’t go to work until the funding issues are resolved, and they won’t get paid for days missed unless Congress specifically says so.

Which federal workers will be affected?

The Office of Personnel Management on Tuesday night posted some guidance [10] on what would happen in the event of a shutdown. Workers find out from their agencies whether they’ll be furloughed until today or, at the latest, Friday.

The Washington Post has a piece on how frustrating this has been [11] for some workers. And the New York Times has noted that the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union for federal workers, has sued [12] the Office of Management and Budget to get more information on agencies’ contingency plans.

The president and members of Congress, who aren’t subject to furloughs, will still get paid though a bill to reverse that has passed the Senate but not the House [13].

Lessons from the last shutdown

At this point, most of the predictions about what will happen in a shutdown are based on what happened in previous shutdowns. And most of the information cited on this seems to have been taken from a Congressional Research Service report [14] released in February [PDF].

The report notes that from 1995 to 1996, two shutdowns occurred- one that lasted five days and furloughed 800,000 workers; another that lasted 21 days and furloughed 284,000 workers. That’s a lot of variation, and keep in mind that entirely new agencies [15] have been formed in the 15 years since the last shutdown.

Which government services would be affected?

The New York Times has a handy list laying out how various government services might be affected [16]. Some things that would continue mostly unaffected are military operations, the Federal Reserve, the postal service, and Medicare and Social Security payments. An accompanying story also outlines some potential scenarios [17] in more detail:

The National Zoo would close, but the lions and tigers would get fed; Yellowstone and other national parks would shut down. The Internal Revenue Service could stop issuing refund checks. Customs and Border Patrol agents training officials in Afghanistan might have to come home. And thousands of government-issued BlackBerrys would go silent.

2026 In any shutdown, the government does not completely cease functioning, of course. Activities that are essential to national security, like military operations, can continue. Air traffic control and other public safety functions are exempt from shutdowns. Federal prisons still operate; law enforcement and criminal investigations can continue.

The Times also has a piece on how state governments may be affected [18] by a federal shutdown. The answer: not too much if it’s a short shutdown, but a long one could present real problems.

Follow on Twitter: @mariancw [19]

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Mapping corruption tweets in real-time in India [MASHUP]

Transparency has gone global. Today, there’s a mashup of corruption-related tweets in India and Google Maps to explore.

Add an expanding number of data points in how Gov 2.0 and open government are taking root in India.

Hat tip to Andrew McLaughlin.

The State Department is tumbling

Have no fear – or hope, depending upon your perspective: the United States Department of State is not undergoing a revolution. They have, however, added one more tool to the digital diplomacy toolkit: they’ve started a new blog on Tumblr, a rapidly growing blogging platform.

The State Department started tumbling at StateDept.tumblr.com on Monday, a few weeks after Tumblr was added to Apps.gov. The General Services Administration started the first federal agency Tumblr last month for the new USA.gov blog.

So far, the folks over at Foggy Bottom have tumbled about relief efforts in Japan, aid for Africa, a partnership in Ukraine, shared video of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talking with Israeli President Shimon Peres and posted a dispatch from EWC in the Pacific.

In the process, they’ve integrated pictures from Flickr, text from state.gov and video from YouTube – a reminder of how much of a pastiche creating and publishing media in a Gov 2.0 world has become.

Tumblr looks like a good platform for the diversity of content and context that State has to share. Sharp-eyed observers will have to wait to see if they are willing to fully engage with the Tumblr community reblogging other posts as well. For instance, if any digital diplomats come across the map of a tweet that I found through Stowe Boyd, they should feel more than welcome to reblog it. (I hear the State Department finds Twitter pretty interesting these days.)

How many federal open government projects are there? [INFOGRAPHIC]

April 7th, 2010 was Open Government Day in the United States. Many of the key requirements of the Open Government Directive issued by the Obama administration came due. A year later, the people charged with carrying out the plans, policies and projects that came out of that directive are starting to deliver upon some of the digital initiatives. NASA just held its first open source summit. FCC.gov relaunched as an open government platform.
There’s much more going on in the open government movement than new federal websites or revamped software policy, however, than most citizens or even other government workers and officials may realize.

According to the list of federal open government projects compiled by Angie Newell during her doctoral dissertation, there are currently 358 federal open government projects. Y

As Andy Kryzmarzik explained this morning in a post on Govloop, this terrific infographic is the results of a collaboration between Newell, NYC professor Beth Noveck and GOOD. Nancy Scola has aptly called a map of the US open government world. You can explore the graphic below or access a larger version open government infographic as a PDF. If you click on the numbers, you’ll be taken to a subset of projects in the database hosted on Govloop.

Here’s the backstory from Krzmarzick on how the infographic was created:

As serendipity would have it, I met both Beth and Angie Newell at Manor.Govfresh in September, where I learned that Angie was working on a doctoral dissertation and had already completed much of the data collection already…but she couldn’t quite share it yet as she was completing a bit more analysis and adding some additional information. In the meantime, she’s provided some analysis of the project here and here.

Fast forward to a month ago. By now, Beth had departed the White House…and Angie finalized the dataset with all 350+ open government projects. So Beth connected us with the GOOD guys (and I mean that literally – special shout out to Casey Caplowe and Oliver Munday). Our goal was to create a useful visualization that made it easy to find the data and they’re kinda known for their great infographics.

You can browse all of the open government projects in the database below.

This infographic and and database is useful for learning what’s out there in federal open government plans. That said, there’s no clear assessment of the quality of outcomes in that graphic. Understanding what exists, however, is a valuable first step, and I look forward to the analysis of the Govloop community and the larger open government ecosystem as more of these projects are implemented. Not every open government project will result in the creation of a health internet but they’re all important to someone.

Simpl tries to make connecting innovation to local government easier

There’s a new platform to bridge the connection between social innovators and government. Simpl, a joint project between FutureGov and Rock Creek Strategic Marketing, is short for “Social Innovation Marketplace.” As of last Friday, are Simpl is open for ideas in both the United Kingdom and United States.

For now, this open government startup is bootstrapping and focused on local government. “We’ll be exploring a bunch of avenues over the coming months, but for certain we see cities as important and the local as being the right level for being able to support this kind of action,” said co-founder Dominic Campbell. “That’s why we’re launching it with Code for America.” Craiglist founder Craig Newmark described the “social innovation speed dating” that’s set to take place in San Francisco tonight in more detail, for those interested in learning more or attending.

“We are committed to helping government embrace social innovation, handing over power to citizens,” said Campbell. “We see Simpl as a key tool to support the work we do with city governments to open up, connect and innovate.” His presentation from last year’s Open Cities Conference in the UK, embedded below, offers some more insight on that vision.

Campbell offered more insight into what Simpl is all about in a brief interview.

What is Simpl all about?

DC: It’s not about competition, it’s not (really) about money. It’s about peer to peer support and collaboration putting social innovator in touch with government. Not top down, not predetermined parameters by government – but instead gives people the opportunity to say, “Hey, this is a great idea I’m working on to fix a problem that you probably didn’t even know existed. How about you help me make it happen?” It’s mostly aimed at government but much wider. It’s more about meeting a social need as defined by the people who have that need and know what they need to make it happen. That’s often access to people in power more than money, or some borrowed skills, etc. It builds on the challenge model and says, “Hey, perhaps government doesn’t know the problems, so how can it set challenges to meet them? Who better than to define the problem/challenge/wish the person on the receiving end?”

What makes Simpl different from other platforms?

The competitive differentiator is that it is entirely agnostic. It’s about bringing people together, whoever they are, whether in government or out of government, to identify and solve challenges, meeting their own goals with or without the help of government. Frankly, Scott, me, Carrie, and most people we know have more ideas than time to make them happen so this is a vehicle to made that happen.

Why does Simpl matter to citizens?

The key is that this is all about the average citizen. They are the captive audience. They are the people on the site shaping the site from the start. Government is a key partner. That’s something we’ll be working very hard to do to connect our good government (and more than government) network into the ideas to help elevate them and help them meet their goals.

What’s else is ahead?

There’s tech development, in response to a number of requests we’ve already had for people wanting to use our matching software. We’re considering the possibility of adding some paid-for features over time. But all the functionality you see today will remain free.

Open government in beta: FCC.gov 2.0 is live

The beta version of the beautifully redesigned FCC.gov is now online at beta.FCC.gov. (Yes, it’s a United States federal government website in beta. This is 2011, after all.)

FCC-gov-20-home

The rebooted FCC.gov integrates core principles of Web 2.0 into its design and function, serving as one of the most important examples of government as a platform to date. My full, in-depth review at the new FCC.gov is Gov 2.0 channel of the O’Reilly Radar:

FCC.gov reboots as an open government platform. The new FCC.gov isn’t just a site any more: it’s a Web service that taps into open source, the cloud, and collective intelligence. In the world of Gov 2.0, that’s a substantial reframing of what government can do online.

FCC.gov 2.0 Preview: FCC launches FCC.us URL shortener

FCC Data Center

FCC Data Center

Later this week, a new version of FCC.gov will go live. It’s a complete redesign of the Federal Communications Online presence. You could even call it a reboot, in keeping with the FCC launch of reboot.gov last January.

There’s much more to report on when the new FCC.gov goes online. For now, here’s a preview of something nifty that’s already live: the new FCC custom URL shortener, FCC.us.

The new custom URL shortener, is based upon bit.ly, like the 1.usa.gov URL shortener for civilian use. It automatically shortens any FCC.gov that’s shortened using bit.ly or the shorter j.mp. For instance, FCC.gov/developer becomes http://fcc.us/bkJYlG. In a new media world that is often shortened to 140 characters, that’s rather handy.

More to come soon.