Sunday, May 17, 2009

TechPolicy Summit brought geeks and policy gurus for amazing discussions in silicon valley

TechPolicy Summit started with TheFreeSummit on Monday May 11th followed by two days of in depth discussions at The TechPolicy Summit.

I was lucky to attend couple sessions. I went in ignorant about the need for geek entrepreneur's participation in tech policy and walked out with lots to ponder about.

Day 1: FreeSummit 6.45pm: @KaraSwisher Interview of Chris Kelly (@ck4ag), Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook and CA Attorney General Candidate.

  • Chris Kelly brings his experience from addressing privacy concerns for 200Mil users to become the potential attorney general of California.
  • Karawisher, the master moderator navigated questions to bring out a very interesting discussion. Panel video part 1 , Panel video part 2 Panel video part 3

Audience were amazingly well prepared for Q&A and added to the discussion well.

Day 3: Govt Transparency Panel with @TimOReilly, @Craignewmark, @Carlmalamud of, Ellen Miller, Bill Schrier moderated by Andrew Rasiej, Co-founder, Personal Democracy Forum

I loved this panel!!! Now I understand that the place of @TechPolicy Summit in the valley is to wake up tech entrepreneurs to the opportunities waiting for them with Gov data. The organizers had the right mix of experts and the panelists discussed openly to build upon each others point to bring out nuggets of wisdom.

Tim O'Reilly talks about his vision for identities and tech policy.

There was lot of discussion about opening up Govt data and what are the hurdles today in creating that transparency.

Carl's 8 Principles for how govt data should be made available.

1. Data has to be complete
2. Primary data should be available.
3. Should be timely
4. Should be Accessible
5. Should be Machine Processable e.g. check
6. Should be non-discriminatory
7. Should be non-proprietary
8. Should be license free

How do we get tech entrepreneurs to get involved in working with Govt:
Tim O'Reilly said there is more data collected by govt than exploited. We don't have to persuade the private sector. We just have to figure out what govt can do to enable private sector. e.g. we get financial data, weather data. Amazing entrepreneurial opportunity here to build businesses if more data is opened up.

CraigNewmark said it benefits us all if we have a govt that works. He gave an example of his vision of how citizens can participate. We could use our smartphone, take a picture of a pothole and send to govt and get it fixed quickly. There is a startup idea waiting to happen!

Washington's clay layer of resistance to change and the panel's recommendation to make it work for all of us:
Ellen Miller of Sunlight Foundation brought lot of stats from real life projects working in Washington.

Inspired by the Apps for Democracy by DC CTO, Sunlight Foundation did 'Apps for America' and got 45 remarkable applications developed. They built a community on to begin a conversation about how technologists could engage with data that govt was setting free. They quickly followed this with a wiki. Now state/city legislative info is being scrapped by volunteer technologists and 35 has been completed so far.

She quoted Rep Mike Honda as the Member of Congress who is an innovator who enabled availability of bulk legislative data. She said otherwise there is generally a culture of resistance.

Tim O'Reilly brought some hope by the term"clay layer". He said people at the top and people at the bottom want change and are stuck by the clay layer, the middle layer of people in Govt. who oppose change.

Craig Newmark offered a solution to permeate the clay layer. He said very emphatically that people want to be part of something big that works, so keep showing it works. If people outside of govt stand for people inside the govt, they will be part of something bigger and will feel motivated to create change and build transparency.

Thanks to @techpolicy organizers and staff for the awesom show and for Debbie and Ellen for getting me Veggie food!


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