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Transparency camp in blogs, video, tweets and audio


The first Transparency camp – a BarCamp-style “unconference” –  was held at George Washington University a few weeks ago, and the videos of the event have now been made available.

By all accounts the event was a tremendous success, bringing together developers, new media strategists, government information experts and transparency advocates from a wide range of diverse interest groups. The  event was sponsored by iStrategyLabs and the Sunlight foundation, however, it’s organization and agenda – as befits an unconference – was developed by those attending, and based on the pillars of transparency and openness in government.

Event blogs

There are lots of great blog posts about the event including:

Event video

There is a great selection of interviews with transparency advocates available at Transparency camp. I’ve outlined some soundbites from the video below:

Greg Elin (Sunlight): “We have brought the tech geeks and policy wonks together, and they’re not that different…We should not be the only ones putting on transparency camp, it should be something that others should do aswell.”

Ellen Miller (Sunlight): “We hope it encourages more collaboration between people inside government and outside government.”

Clay Johnson (Sunlight): “You’ve got journalists, policy wonks, technologists and people from the government all here to listen; it’s the perfect combination of people…I think transparency is important because it destroys apathy.”

Gabriela Schnedier (Sunlight): “Transparency in the Internet age means putting information about government online in a way that’s user-friendly and accessible, so we know what our government is up to and ultimately that helps rebuild trust…I think there’s a real desire for people to come together to help change our government.”

Julia Barko Germany (ipdi.org): “An event like this brings everyone together [social media people and government people] and draws from their collective expertise.”

Larry Makinson (Sunlight): “Two years from now you can come back and people who are coming to this conference will have produced stuff that even they can’t visualize today…People who have the right information make intelligent decisions. ”

Craig Newmark (craigslist): “The people who are serious about policy [are back in Washington], and serious about policy that serves people, and they’ve brought the nerds with them.”

Micah Sifry (techpresident): “It’s great to see people from inside government who understand that part of their job, or all of their job, is to make government more accessible to the public.”

Andrew Rasiej (techpresident): “One of the great things about Information Technology is it’s a non-partisan issue. It technology can make government information more transparent, more accessible and bring down the cost of government by making it more effective, both Republicans and Democrats agree.

Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly): “We have the incumbent asking for transparency, so it’s now or never.”

Patricia McDermott (openthegovernment.org): “If you don’t have the information, you can’t meaningfully participate.”

Favorite tweets from the event

Apparently, there have been over 3,600 tweets with the hashtag tcamp09. Ellen Miller has a collection of her favorites, and I’ve listed some of mine below (admittedly many taken from David Tallan’s excellent collection on Govloop):

  • @EllnMllr: “Transparency is about accountability and technology is a means to that end.” #tcamp09 (@Tcamp09)
  • @nwatzman: No, transparency is not just about finding corruption. Most of it is about just knowing what govt does, corrupt or not. #tcamp (@texaswatchdog)
  • @kmcurry #tcamp09 – my job in life right now is to figure ways to break down Federal Policy barriers to open govt …Records Mgmt is one (@NoelDickover)
  • society without trust has no future slave 2 fear/distrust 2 its masters @corbett3000 @sliqviq @Rasiej @Mlsif @CornelWest #Tcamp09 #wemedia (@geogeller)
  • Use of plain,standard English considered an *innovation* by the U.S. Govt in developing web user experiences. #TCamp09 (@planetrussell)
  • I think that “experimentation” implies more vision and responsibility than “see what sticks to the wall.” #tcamp09 (@cheeky_geeky)
  • #tcamp09 elephant in room, are government policies and regulation holding back personalized web services for citizens #tcamp09 (@justgrimes)
  • Looks like » link to Evolution of Security gets more comments per post on average than @techcrunch #tcamp09 (@corbett3000)
  • 1of2 @rmowery thx rob. I think that it’s going to have to move from destination website focus to community & collaboration focus. #tcamp09 (@mixtmedia)
  • 2of2 @rmowrey it’s 1 thing 2 centralize web activities in 1.0 destination world. no longer valid org model in 2.0 distributed wrld #tcamp09 (@mixtmedia)
  • scraping data is bad, gov should focus on just clean open data; read more @jerrybrito ‘s paper (http://tinyurl.com/cyuex9), #tcamp09 (@justgrimes)
  • u dont need to create incentives for sharing, humans want to share; its not about making incentives, its about remove barriers (@justgrimes)
  • Gov’t isn’t stupid – it’s just filled with laws, regulations, and process and scared of the Washington Post – John Scott (@koa)
  • Ultimate goal of transparency is not to get govt data to citizens, but to get citizens intellect into gov for better results (@kpkfusion)
  • ‘Tis beautiful to watch advocates, technologists, and those doing the hard work of government chew over ideas and challenges. (@nancyscola)

Event radio

There is a nice synopsis of the event by Clay Johnson on Federal News Radio.

Also,  Gabriella Schneider from Sunlight gives her take on holding an Unconference and letting go of control.

Keep in contact

There are lots of other resources including photos, and ways to keep in contact, at Transparency camp lives on. One of Greg Elin’s hopes was that another camp would be organized by grassroots transparency advocates across the country. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.

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