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Author Topic: Coding Government - (Ted.com video - very good)  (Read 1541 times)
Renegade
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« on: March 20, 2012, 07:41:16 PM »

Here's an excellent video that I'm sure many will enjoy.

In here, the speaker talks about writing software for the government machine.

http://www.ted.com/talks/..._a_better_government.html

Quote
Can government be run like the Internet, permissionless and open? Coder and activist Jennifer Pahlka believes it can -- and that apps, built quickly and cheaply, are a powerful new way to connect citizens to their governments -- and their neighbors.

Jennifer Pahlka is the founder of Code for America, which matches software geniuses with US cities to reboot local services.

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db90h
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2012, 11:07:17 AM »

Haven't watched or read.. but something like this is the next revolution... direct democracy. However, it is also scary. Just look at Youtube comments if you'd like to be scared.
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Renegade
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2012, 12:50:13 PM »

Haven't watched or read.. but something like this is the next revolution... direct democracy. However, it is also scary. Just look at Youtube comments if you'd like to be scared.

I'm not sure what you mean there. I looked at this video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4EhJ898r-k

I don't see anything particularly scary in the comments. Did I miss something?

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tomos
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2012, 01:58:47 PM »

That was very good Renegade thumbs up
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Tom
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2012, 03:05:56 PM »

It's a nice idea. But until you get enough of the entrenched ogres out of the loop, it's going to be confined to very small accomplishments for the most part.

The fly in the ointment is the point about "permissionless" actions.

Not gonna fly.

At least not in my State. Because government here is all about permission. And pretty much nothing but granting or denying permission.

I have an acquaintance who is involved in a major state initiative to "modernize" one of the largest state agencies. They're attempting to upgrade a massive data system that was brought in as a two year stopgap - over 20 years ago. The people who are steering the thing have no direct agency experience. They're totally clueless about what the workers do, what the clients come in for, and how things actually get done. None came up through the ranks. All are political appointees. They sit on an ivory tower and pontificate. "If you really are a senior manager, you don't need direct experience." they like to say. "A real manager can manage anything. Experience is irrelevant."

One key person in the group refuses to discuss specifics. Ever. All he wants to talk about is "vision." And how he personally "envisions" things working. Forget that that's not reality. He prides himself on "being able to dream big."

And this is one of the people that's going to be signing off on a major programming contract. (Oh...should I mention he can barely use a PC to get his e-mail messages on those very rare occasions when he looks at them?)

My bud tells me they're all automatically against anything they don't understand. And since that's almost everything, he's fairly certain the contract will be awarded to whichever company does the most ego-stroking and yes-manning.

He's even shown initiative and developed database projects in-house and on his own time. And introduced them into his office where they worked well. Or did until somebody from the employee's union bitched that using his programs wasn't in their contract. Which set off a whole soap opera. Because the employees actually liked his apps since they made their work easier and more accurate. Didn't matter. His stuff got pulled off the office PCs.

And why?

The official reason was: he didn't have permission to do something like that. The IT people were hacked because his quick &  dirty apps were doing things that had been sitting in the request stack for years. And IT kept telling everybody how difficult it would be to do something that my friend, working part time, cranked out in a few hours - or days at most. So IT was looking stupid. And the head of IT was a big buddy of one of the agency's head honchos. So an official directive came down: no more in-house program or database development. All requests and changes must be made through authorized channels and done by approved providers.

Of course that didn't stop the powers that be from screaming once the overdue rate began going up and the error counts started increasing. But that's a whole different issue. You can just yell at people for that.

So while I think what Jennifer Pahlka proposes is a great idea - and is probably even a necessary change to be made - I still don't have much hope of seeing it happen with the entrenched political cabals and power cliques we have running most government functions.

As Jerry Weinberg said about technical issues: It's always a 'people problem.' And if you ever discover a situation where it isn't - you need to look again.

 Cool
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