I facilitated two unconferences this week. On Monday with our company The Green Land we hosted a 90 minute unconference on (the future of) open government. It was a sweltering day, without much wind. Held on the rooftop of our office building, we had precisely the amount of shade needed to keep all participants out of the sun. With some 20 people from around our network we compared notes on open government, civic tech, and potential collective action. Having built the program with the group I participated in conversations on public versus market roles, what ‘sticks‘ we have in our toolbox when working towards more open government, and the Dutch Common Ground program.

A group in discussion
Groups in conversation

The program
The program

We ended with a fun ‘open government pubquiz’ led by my colleagues Frank and Niene.

(At CaL earlier this month in Canada, someone asked me if I did unconference facilitation as work. I said no, but then realised I had two events lined up this week putting the lie to that ‘no’. This week E suggested we might start offering training on how to host and facilitate an unconference.)

In the context of the collaborative production in eGovernment study (more information on www.ourservices.eu) that a consortium I am part of is carrying out for the European Commission, we have prepared an online survey that is focused on innovators – initiators and evangelists of collaborative online services delivery, people who are improving public services “from the outside”. By collaborative production we mean services that engage citizens/civic associations/businesses in the design, delivery and evaluation of public services, irrespective of the service provider (government, civil society or business).
We are very interested in your views on drivers, barriers and impact of collaborative production, and hope you are willing to take part in our survey.
We would also appreciate if you could spread the information about the survey in your networks.
At OurServices.eu I have been collecting examples of collaborative e-government services, and am still adding more. I will also publish there descriptions for each EU Member State concerning these services. You are most welcome to also add your own examples. Please use the form on the website for that.
Below is a map of the over 100 examples of collaborative e-gov services collected so far.

In the presentation below, that Tim Berners Lee gave last February at the TED conference, the creator of the Web talks about what needs to come next: linked data. This is Berners-Lee’s explanation of the semantic web.

The internet used to only connect servers to eacher other. I remember how in the very late ’80s I logged onto a Unix machine at some US University to get some material from that machine using command line entries.
Berners-Lee thought it frustrating that you would find documents and files in all kinds of formats for which you might not have the right software to read it. Out of that frustration came the Web. It didn’t look all that great initially (see pic below), but it meant you could open a document from any machine, and have it link to other documents. The Web connects documents.

Early version of the CERN website.

Now he proposes to link data to eachother, much like we now link documents, and used to link servers to eachother. As the next step in the evolution of the internet.
How he imagines that you can see in the video. It needs loads of raw data however. Data that follows three rules: it is available in open formats, it has an URI, and it links to other data. Hence his call to arms: Raw Data Now!
Given the work I currently do on opening up public service information (PSI) in the Netherlands, I can only subscribe to that call. In his presentation Berners-Lee talks a bit more about what is important about opening up government data.