Who opens governments? The co-existence (or competition) of top down versus bottom up strategies (Anke Domscheit-Berg)
Nowadays people take initiative with leaking documents, collaborating with governments, organising hackatons or mobilising online against a cause. Domscheit-Berg’s talk highlighted trends and examples in the field of open government strategies from both a bottom-up and top-down perspective.
One of the biggest transparency platforms is opencongress.org starting in April 2005 with (only) legislation content. Four years later (April 2009) you could already find more information online, e.g. transparency on bills, money trail and senator voting. A big grassroots platform is mysociety.org offering whole little apps as added service to transparency. All tools on MySociety are open source, providing ready-to-use services. Governments followed the trend for more transparency and interaction with open data portals from 2009 and 2010 and open government initiatives. Governments used social media to talk and listen to people and considered collaborative tools to harness the creativity of people – tactics that have been utilised by companies for some time, but can also work in the government context. Today, some top down open government platforms embrace NGO content (e.g. whoslobbying.com at data.gov.uk)
During the last years we have been witnessing a movement towards more community involvement in open government, e.g. apps for democracy challenges and application competitions. Sometimes communities even take the lead in community public partnerships (e.g. Apps for Germany, which was organised by 3 NGOs and just supported by public governments). Even in the Brisbane “top down” example, hackatons are still organised by communities (GovHack as a non-profit run by volunteers and communities). Sometimes NGOs also fill the gap if governments don’t provide data in a way we want to find it. (more…)