The open government community lost a great thought leader this week. Aaron Swartz was always a controversial (and sometimes divisive) member of the transparency movement. For me he was a minor hero; so young, so smart, so capable, always willing to fight for what he believed in. I had great hopes for what he would accomplish in his life, and am both angry and saddened by his loss. I recommend the obituaries by Lessig, Doctorow. and Quinn Norton to understand why so many of us admired him. John Schwartz published a more journalistic note at the New York Times. For those in the transparency community, I highly recommend four of Aaron’s essays:
- Disinfecting the Sunlight Foundation – 2006 (he was 19-years-old!)
- Transparency is Bunk – 2009
- When is Transparency Useful – 2010
- A Database of Folly – 2012
A number of interesting posts this week related to aid transparency and accountability. First, DoS, USAID and MMC commited to publishing all grants in IATI-compliant XML by 2015 as part of the United States’ commitment to the OGP. The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act could codify some of those commitments into law if passed. It currently sits in the House Foreign Affairs committee. Interestingly, one of the barriers to USAID publishing data related to development assistance was messy metadata; a problem that was partly overcome by organizing an event to crowdsource the cleaning and georeferencing of grant info. David Hall-Matthews of Publish What You Fund makes his aid transparency predictions for 2013, calling on more donors to join the International Aid Transparency Initiative. Hopefully we at Omidyar Network will meet compliance soon.
Global Integrity received 311 ideas from 71 countries for their Innovation Fund, which offers small grants to support the development of innovative prototypes to diminish corruption and increase accountability. Half of the submissions are focused on Africa and Latin America.
MySociety’s Tom Steinberg asked the World Bank’s Tiago Peixoto for a reading list of academic papers related to participation, deliberation and open government. Part I of Tiago’s response is here.
My Upcoming Events
- Feb 2 – 3 — Monterrey Hackathon
- March 11 – 12 — Right to Information and Transparency in the Digital Age: Policy, Tools and Practices, Palo Alto, California
- April 19 – 21 — Internatioanl Symposium of Online Journalism, Austin Texas
- May 13 – 17 — WWW 2013, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Papers I Plan on Reading This Week
- Next City’s 2012 Disruption Index
- OpenPlans’ Field Scan of Civic Technology
- Government Designed for New Times anthology by McKinsey