Embedded below is the talk I’ve given to both community hackers (at Open Web Vancouver) as well as City of Vancouver Staff regarding the opportunities and challenges around open data and the open motion. (Here’s an update on where Vancouver is at courtesy of some amazing work by city staff).
For those willing to brave through the presentation (or simply fast forward to the end) one piece I felt is most important is the talk’s last section which outlines what I term “The Bargain” in a reference to the informal contract Clay Shirky says exists between every Web 2.0 site and their users.
The bargain comes last, because it matters only if there is a promise (open and shared data) and a set of tools (applications languages) that are already working together. The bargain is also the most complex aspect of a functioning group, in part because it is the least explicit aspect and in part because it is the one the users have the biggest hand in creating, which means it can’t be completely determined in advance… A bargain helps clarify what you can expect of others and what they can expect of you.
– Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody (my italics, page 270)
I believe that in an open city, a similar bargain exists between a government and its citizens. To make open data a success and to engage the community a city must listen, engage, ask for help, and of course, fulfil its promise to open data as quickly as possible. But this bargain runs both ways. The city must to its part, but so, on the flip side, must the local tech community. They must participate, be patient (cities move slower than tech companies), offer help and, most importantly, make the data come alive for each other, policy makers and citizens through applications and shared analysis.