Gov 2.0, News, Public Participation

Third Thursdays SF with TransportationCamp

Friends of OpenSF packed into mid-Market’s Mavelous last night, kicking off discussion and networking around transit-oriented innovation, tech, good government and healthy cities. The event was Third Thursdays SF, a monthly tech and civics meetup organized by OpenSF, CityCampSF, GovFresh and Gov 2.0 Radio (my “networked government” Web radio show).

City workers, local developers and progressive activists were greeted by Frank Hebbert from OpenPlans, who opened the night with a short film by Streetfilms recapping the TransportationCamp unconference held in New York earlier this month. TransportationCamp is in SF this weekend at Public Works.

More photos of March’s Third Thursdays event here.

Gov 2.0, News, Open Data, Open Source

Chris Vein: From SF to the White House

As reported on Twitter, Gov 2.0 Radio and FedScoop on Wednesday, former SF CIO Chris Vein has decamped for Washington, DC, where he is the new deputy CTO for innovation.

Gov tech pubs have been abuzz with the news.

More at InformationWeek.

On the Code for America blog, Jennifer Pahlka discusses how Vein was instrumental in supporting Civic Commons and CfA. “I’m happy to see Chris and his commitment to change join the other innovators in the White House, all of whom have inspired our work,” Pahlka writes.

The National Association of Communications Officers and Advisors also did a nice write-up on the promotion for its longtime member: “This is an outstanding appointment,” said NATOA Executive Director Steve Traylor. “And it’s an important recognition by the Obama Administration of the importance of local government efforts in technology and broadband innovation.”

Good luck to Chris in his new role!

Gov 2.0, News, Open Data, Public Participation

Open Gov Summit Planning in SF

I headed over to Granicus’ SoMa offices last night to join in a local planning meeting for an SF Bay Area open government summit. Eight of us discussed a local event as part of a U.S.-wide series of municipal-level summits to organize around and promote themes of transparency, participation and collaboration in government.

In the spirited discussion, organizers discussed aims for the May event, such as:

  • Telling stories of why transparency, participation and collaboration matter for local government and community;
  • Highlight best practices from local governments;
  • Create greater awareness of the open government principles;
  • Foster better inter-governmental cooperation.

Based on the discussion around this summit, I suspect that CityCampSF, a loosely organized group that put on an unconference last October, will sharpen its focus to promote informal meetups around civic innovation and organization of volunteers and stakeholders around technical solutions for improving government engagement and efficiency.

One of the goals of OpenSF is to encourage more city workers to engage around Gov 2.0 principles of working directly with volunteers and community stakeholders to create agile solutions, and to increase two-way communication through social media.

Find our more about how to get involved in planning the opengov summit in the Bay Area, or in your community, at the OpenGov Playbook wiki.

Also, learn more about Gov 2.0 and the modern definition of Open Government on this collaborative Google document.

Adriel Hampton

Gov 2.0, News, Public Participation

Join Us for CityCampSF!

CityCamp is a global movement of informal conferences bringing together neighborhood and nonprofit leaders and activists, entrepreneurs and technology developers, new media and traditional journalists, and municipal employees to brainstorm, teach, learn and plan how to promote civic engagement and improve our cities with emerging technologies.

CityCampSF on Saturday, October 16, is a free event driven by participants and attendees. At this event, we’ll be forming action plans for how we can improve San Francisco neighborhoods and governance in 2011, from social media to crime reporting to urban farming and public space.

San Francisco is an early leader in open government, Gov 2.0 and government social media, and a hotbed for civic entrepreneurs and innovative startups (see the DataSF App Showcase). At CityCampSF, we’ll be moving from organizing to action, forming working groups for real projects to better our neighborhoods and City Hall.

Today, you can suggest and vote on topics for CityCampSF, and you can register here for the free event (space is limited to the first 125 signups).

– Adriel Hampton

Gov 2.0, News, Public Participation

An Avatar Picture Worth 1,000 Friends

Do default avatar pictures bother you, or you still shrinking back from showing the world your pearly whites or using an agency logo on a consumer-oriented social media site?

It’s often surprising how many new social media users fail to update their generic avatars when starting out. And failing to do so is likely to be a major setback for effective use of social media tools. A study earlier this year by marketing firm HubSpot looked at 9 million Twitter accounts and found that accounts with profile pictures had 10 times as many followers as account with generic avatar images.

Most social sites make putting up a picture part of the sign-up process, others, like government-focused social network GovLoop on the Ning platform, have an approval process before you can upload a photo. Sadly, one look at GovLoop’s members tab tells you that most people aren’t bothering with that second step. But for 10 times the contacts, it seems like social media suicide not to do so.

Not everyone is comfortable putting up their picture on a social site, and there are plenty of other ways to dress up your avatar without. This article from Mashable talks about creative avatar images, and just about any creative picture is a lot better than the default images, such as the Twitter egg shown here.

For the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office on Twitter, we used a classic mug shot of City Attorney Dennis Herrera, top right (smiling in your picture also means more friends, studies have shown), and a custom background with our agency logo and a little blackbird. The simple custom background is fairly popular, eliciting responses like those of local journalist Lois Beckett, “How could Twitter bird + formal seal not be awesome?”

Hopefully this gives you some ideas on how to put your best foot – er, face – forward in open government social media efforts.

– Adriel Hampton

Gov 2.0, News, Open Data, Public Participation

San Francisco’s Open Data Efforts On Display

San Francisco’s aggressive open data efforts were on display this week, as civic and technology leaders took the stage at sf.govfresh, an event highlighting technology innovation in City government. City CIO Chris Vein (who also was recently interviewed by ideation solutions firm BrightIdea) and Department of Technology innovations manager Jay Nath explained how the City is leveraging innovators in and out of government to create a culture that creates valuable new applications at little to no cost. Jay’s presentation on Open 311 APIs is here.

The event on Wednesday night also features several local developers who’ve built mobile and Web applications using open data from San Francisco and other government agencies. These included Routsey, MomMaps, and Crimespotting. You can find the entire catalogue of apps built with SF data at the SF Innovations Showcase.

Lawrence Grodeska, pictured, of SF Environment, explained efforts to create a common standard for apps focused on recycling information and called on local developers to submit proposals to develop the next generation of SF’s “EcoFinder.”

Event host Adobe livestreamed the event, and a replay is available here.

Also on Wednesday, I was on air for John Moore’s Social Ecosystem Lab podcast to talk about the SF City Attorney’s social media programs and broader open government efforts in San Francisco. You can listen to that interview here.

– Adriel Hampton