Does open government matter to you? Think about it!
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Visits (3044)
Planning ahead for a new breed of 'public' spaces." It discusses the concept of government computing in contrast to public spaces, such as park land, city hall and other physical places that are manged by government.
This is an excellent way to think about government computing. What sort of limitations would you tolerate on being able to access public spaces? We do tolerate a fee when going into a State or federal park. I don't think that I would tolerate one for a local municipal park. I expect government services to be available to me, in my language, during predictable times. I expect to be able to transact my business without having to go through a middle-man of any kind. I expect my interaction with government to be dictated more by my vote than the services of a vendor. In fact, if there was a vendor standing in between me and my government I would find that intolerable.
Right now governments are struggling to find ways to take advantage of technology. I think for the most part there is a desire to maintain the good elements of public resources while using technology to overcome the inconveniences of driving to a physical location and standing in line or having to sort through the bureaucracy to find the individual who can answer a question. However, many of these institutions are relying on the advice and products of vendors, many of whom are still locked into a model that demands data be locked up in their own proprietary solution. This really should not be acceptable for government data. We should demand open standards on data for government, so that the technology can feasibly last as long as the need for the data. I think that we should also demand a good level of open source in the code so that it is easy for people to integrate with these solutions and for agencies to interact.
This openness should extend to the handling of people's identities. Identities should be under the control of the owner, not assigned by the government. I've stated before that there are good technologies allowing an individual to establish their own key for interacting with various entities. I still like this solution. It may be appropriate for me to use a single key to interact with government, but they should not demand that I also use that key to interact with other businesses. The goal should be to clearly and accurately establish my identity for the safety of everyone I'm doing business with... not establish an unstoppable tracking mechanism whereby everyone can follow my daily activities.
Of course, you may have different views and requirements. That's the thing about the public. It's full of individuals and their own needs and perspectives. Your needs must be considered as well. Take some time to think about what is being done to create a virtual public space for you. Are you paying attention to what is being done? Are you giving the same attention that you would with the physical equivalent. Are you looking out for your rights and demanding that they be considered or are you just going with the flow because it's technology?