Two ideas you really missed if you didn’t go to #gov20LA

We invest in our 401ks, we need to think about investing in our government. A new way of thinking about investment, from Alan Silverman

That’s a great idea. Especially from the point of view of parents who are wanting to have a better world for their children. There is the opportunity to invest locally in your neighborhood association all the way to internationally. Opportunities for ‘investment’ range from social media – blogs, citizen journalism – to data analysis, organization ala wikipedia editors and more.
Can there be “Facebook Science”?
A new way of thinking about data, from Jean Holm – NASA/ JPL
Jean Holm was the reason I came to Gov20LA, because I am very interested in open data. With Egypt’s president resigning the previous day, there was some talk about the politics of open data. She said that Twitter enabled the transformation of government rather than causing it. I agree. She also said that within the U.S.,
Government data philosophy is moving from a “need to know basis” to a “need to share”.
Personally, though, I am very interested in the use of open data for research and skeptical about the uses of twitter, mash-ups and other social media for scientific research. I’m very skeptical of anyone’s ability to think deeply in 140 characters. Not that there cannot be brilliant tweets –  I just don’t think these will replace refereed journals.
Holm gave some really interesting uses of social media. These including finding NASA Experts via Social Networks, they have combined to form SpaceBook (get it- groan)  which pulls expert attributes from existing systems, e.g., publications database, what they charge their time to. So if I am a NASA researcher looking for someone else doing similar research, finding a colleague is at my fingertips – and objective, not like those people who claim to be experts at everything and then turns out they couldn’t find a derivative with a flashlight and a map.
There were a lot of really impressive ideas and brilliant people, more than I expected. What did I expect? Well, I expected that the one or two speakers I knew would be really knowledgeable, maybe a few other people there would be fascinating and most people would be just like most people you meet everywhere. It was kind of the opposite of that. I’d say the brilliant, fascinating and competent distribution in the room is skewed very, very far to the right of the normal curve.
It wasn’t all perfect. There were a couple of comments both during presentations and in conversations afterward that made me want to join the Tea Party.
Hint: If you are telling members of the public in essence “Our agency is perfect and if you had trouble finding the data you need you must be a moron”, um, the odds are your agency isn’t perfect and if there is a moron in the room well…
Still, those were FAR the exception. If you want to get excited about government (Yeah, sounds crazy, I know) or if you are a government and want to do better, you should be here.
And hey, city of Santa Monica, it’s still going on today and your citizens are wondering why the governments of Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and Los Angeles are represented and we’re not. It’s not too late. In fact, if you leave now, you can meet me there.

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