Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice

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"O'Reilly Media, Inc.", Feb 8, 2010 - Political Science - 432 pages
2 Reviews
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In a world where web services can make real-time data accessible to anyone, how can the government leverage this openness to improve its operations and increase citizen participation and awareness? Through a collection of essays and case studies, leading visionaries and practitioners both inside and outside of government share their ideas on how to achieve and direct this emerging world of online collaboration, transparency, and participation.

Contributions and topics include:

  • Beth Simone Noveck, U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for open government, "The Single Point of Failure"
  • Jerry Brito, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, "All Your Data Are Belong to Us: Liberating Government Data"
  • Aaron Swartz, cofounder of,, and, "When Is Transparency Useful?"
  • Ellen S. Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, "Disrupting Washington's Golden Rule"
  • Carl Malamud, founder of Public.Resource.Org, "By the People"
  • Douglas Schuler, president of the Public Sphere Project, "Online Deliberation and Civic Intelligence"
  • Howard Dierking, program manager on Microsoft's MSDN and TechNet Web platform team, "Engineering Good Government"
  • Matthew Burton, Web entrepreneur and former intelligence analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, "A Peace Corps for Programmers"
  • Gary D. Bass and Sean Moulton, OMB Watch, "Bringing the Web 2.0 Revolution to Government"
  • Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, "Defining Government 2.0: Lessons Learned from the Success of Computer Platforms"

Open Government editors:

Daniel Lathrop is a former investigative projects reporter with the Seattle Post Intelligencer who's covered politics in Washington state, Iowa, Florida, and Washington D.C. He's a specialist in campaign finance and "computer-assisted reporting" -- the practice of using data analysis to report the news.

Laurel Ruma is the Gov 2.0 Evangelist at O'Reilly Media. She is also co-chair for the Gov 2.0 Expo.


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If the truth be known, governments have found scaling to be very difficult. The theme is actually about risk. By definition, the results cannot long follow a set gameplan. Scope and speed are significant. The 34 articles and more authors are stimulating. It is hard to define open administration. Add potential results such as infinite congress, powerless proxies, or resistance to notion of evolution. Web2.0 may not be sufficient to inform the architecture or its defenses, if not creating more bureaucratic network branches for the usual government departments. Case studies are discussed, many in terms of web sites. This is a challenge to model verifiably since it may be more complex than the internet, eg for effect on democracy. Can wonder how much of a role each of several dozen forms of government may have, how tolerant they are, or who will be the people to take equivalent positions and present dire warnings, perhaps including an uberclass of network lobbyists. If party colors are used, the center of change becomes where the palette is most varying. Unexpected effects can be further outlined, such as a balance of power online opposite to realword due to generational shift. Terms differ, eg absentee may be obsolete. Acronyms seem longer at 5 characters or more. There are differences between opensource, crowdsource and open data. Questions remain as to how open other functions must be. New methods of preparing people are necessary. A lot of popular buzzwords show up, eg sustainable participative efficient realtime transparent collaborative interoperable accountable webservice marketplace. Yet another killer app is expected to succeed government internet web search. Secrecy and privacy need to adapt. The signal event that (in)validates this approach needs to be defined with respect to finance, legislation and security for citizenry, business, and environment. Also need to see how intelligently it handles local politics, partisanship, global policy, propaganda, big corporate contributions, marketing manipulation, fundamentalism, costs or censorship. Reading the interactive news may become interesting when that itself changes system conditions. Thanks. 

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

A terrific resource like no other in its field. It offers an amazing diversity of viewpoints covering virtual every aspect of the debate over transparency and open government. It deserves a place on your bookshelf if you care about transparency and Government 2.0 issues.


Chapter 1 A Peace Corps for Programmers
Chapter 2 Government As a Platform
Chapter 3 By the People
Chapter 4 The Single Point of Failure
Chapter 5 Engineering Good Government
Chapter 6 Enabling Innovation for Civic Engagement
Chapter 7 Online Deliberation and Civic Intelligence
Chapter 8 Open Government and Open Society
Why OpenSecretsorg Opted for Full Frontal Data Sharing
Liberating Government Data
Many Eyes
Chapter 24 My Data Cant Tell You That
Chapter 25 When Is Transparency Useful?
Chapter 26 Transparency Inside Out
Chapter 27 Bringing the Web 20 Revolution to Government

Barack Obama and the Wisdom of Crowds
Government with the People
Chapter 11 Citizens View of Open Government
Open Government and the Future of Civil Service
Chapter 13 Democracy Under Everything
Chapter 14 Emergent Democracy
Tweet Congress
Republicans Connect With the American People
Chapter 17 Disrupting Washingtons Golden Rule
Chapter 28 Toads on the Road to Open Government Data
The Privacy Imperative
Promises and Realities
Chapter 31 GovMediaPeople
Chapter 32 Open Source Software for Open Government Agencies
Chapter 33 Why Open Digital Standards Matter in Government
Memo from President Obama on Transparency and Open Government

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