Jan 6, 2009

Even MORE on the CTO

With news of the announcement of the CTO imminent (or not), another august group of tech insiders weigh in on the CTO and (more interesting) some ideas for him/her to consider.

From The Daily Beast:
Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, has discussed several of the president-elect's technology proposals with the Obama team, including a website where "Users will be able to rate their volunteer experiences, and those requiring service will be able to specify skill sets and time commitments required," according to the campaign's national service plan. "Users will also be able to track their hours of service if they choose and perhaps compete for awards from local chambers of commerce or foundations."

Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz is tired of tussling with federal agencies over Freedom of Information Act requests, and he wants Obama's CTO to put public government data online for all to see.

Swartz goes even further, proposing a national project to scan the millions of paper documents that live in the National Archives, Library of Congress, and other repositories—a massive program that would dwarf Google's effort to scan library books. "Imagine if we had a public process to take this and put it online—not just for one company, Google, but for the public at large," he says.

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, suggests the White House try launching similar "wikis" to connect citizens. Indeed, the president-elect's advisers have cited the online encyclopedia as a way in which Americans could meet online to mull over legislation and policy issues. --Read the entire article.
The best advice came from Jimmy Wales.
"Don't just throw up a wiki and hope that something miraculous will happen," he wrote in an email. "A successful wiki requires a clear vision, a clear and achievable goal. I think there are great possibilities for the use of wikis to help citizens help each other. I recommend to try and fail, try and fail, try and fail, but to never give up on the objective of the political process becoming more rational and less prone to hidden pressure group agendas."
Jimmy is right. Trying something for the sake of trying (Hey kids! Let's put up a show!) is not a path to success. Resources are finite. Projects should have a strategy and outcomes should be measurable.

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