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!


Twitter to Take Roost Next to Civic Center?

SF Mayor Ed Lee was on KQED’s Forum program this morning, and one of his main topics was the negotations to keep Twitter in San Francisco. Former Mayor Gavin Newsom was a big Twitter booster, and more than 50 City officials and agencies actively use the micro-blogging service. Mayor Lee and two supervisors have sponsored legislation offering tax breaks for the Mid-Market area in an effort to bring in Twitter as an anchor tenant. The company is looking to move from SoMa due to its growth. City supervisors have yet to vote on the tax proposal.

“It was well worth the effort we made to keep these folks here,” Lee told Forum’s Michael Krasny.

Lee hopes that Twitter will become an anchor tenant in the massive SF Mart building between 9th and 10th, pictured above, just a block from City Hall and surrounded by municipal offices. I recently wrote about the Mid-Market’s transformation over the last decade.


The Subtle Art of Hashtagging

One of the more difficult things to learn on Twitter is effective use of hashtags (check out this ReadWriteWeb article on the birth of the Twitter hashtag). Hashtags on Twitter today create hyperlinks for searches of tagged term, such as #sf, #sfgov, and #opensf. Clicking the tagged tweet leads to searches for #sf, #sfgov, and #opensf, while people searching for SF, sfgov and opensf will find the tagged terms and those same terms without tags.

Hashtags are frequently overused, used needlessly, and added to all proper nouns in a Twitter message, rendering them nearly unreadable. Conversely, they are often not used when they would be helpful for expanding the reach of a tweet or adding additional context.

The important thing to consider is using tags is the search result desired. In the picture above, a search for “OpenSF” turns up three successive posts, two to a blog link from OpenSF, another a tweet I sent using the hashtagged “#opensf.” A search for “#opensf” would turn up the tagged tweet alone. Because the tweets to the blog post include the name of the blog, there is no need to use the tag #opensf in the tweet. However, adding #opengov and #gov20 at the end of the tweet means it now ends up in searches for “opengov” or “gov20” and in the results when people click those tags in others’ tweets. 

In the same way, I often use the #gov20 tag at the end of a tweet that includes “Gov 2.0,” so that the post comes up in searches for both “gov20” and “Gov 2.0”.

In posts from the San Francisco City Attorney Twitter account, I often tag tweets with #sf at the end, so that even if I’ve included “San Francisco” or “S.F.” in the tweet, they turn up in searches for “SF.” However, there is little reason to tag SF within a sentence, as it turns up in “SF” searches without a tag. In fact, by tagging a noun in the middle of a sentence, I undermine the tweet’s message, either by making it more difficult to read, or by giving my reader a hyperlink to click that takes them away from my message before finishing it. If I want the tweet to turn up in searches for “SFand when people click the “#sf” in others’ tweets, I’ll add the tag to the end of the tweet.

Another important consideration in using hashtags to customize a search for an event or issue advocacy (such as our use of #opensf to share news relevant to this blog’s community) is to ensure that the tag is not already in use. Avoid tags that are already in wide and consistent use for other topics.

If you’re looking to integrate your tweet into searches for a broad topic, research which tags are most popular and where you would get the most impact. This is why I use #SF and not #sfo for City Attorney tweets. While some regions use airport codes as unifying tags, here, SF is the dominant term, while “#SFO” is mostly automated job postings and airport check-ins from Foursquare.

Finally, consider that when you tag a tweet, you’re piping it into search, and if you’re repeating a tweet, you might not need to tag it. The #gov20 and #opengov tags are pretty popular these days, some I often omit the tags in RTs to keep the search stream from getting more cluttered.

Any questions or comments about using hashtags? Have additional hashtag resources or tips and tricks that would be helpful to the OpenSF community? Let us know!

Gov 2.0, News, Open Data, Public Participation

Civic Hackers Invade San Francisco

On the way in to Civic Center this morning, I stopped by the new SoMa offices of Code for America, a non-profit startup that deploys top web professionals in one-year fellowships building Web 2.0 applications for cities across the U.S. The fellows, recruited from around the country, are here for January before heading off for a month of hands-on research at their host cities.

Code for America is hosting an open house on Wednesday night, and also ‘Labs Fridays,’ in SF and host cities, where coders will work to resolve smaller municipal tech and operational challenges on the spot.

Very cool to have this action-oriented program in San Francisco!

Adriel Hampton

News, Open Data

SF Film Commission Opens Data Trove to App Developers

San Francisco’s always been a special place for movie buffs. And now the City’s Film Commission is opening up its treasure trove of historical information to application developers.

As part of the City’s signature “open data” initiative, the commission this week posted information on more than 800 San Francisco locations used in movie shoots from 1915 to the present.

This latest release from the Film Commission is already one of the most popular datasets on the front page of DataSF, and the commission is hoping that innovative developers will create fun apps based on the data. The possibilities seem nearly limitless, from audio- and video-enhanced movie tours of San Francisco with a smart phone, to GPS check-in tours following in the steps of some of the City’s most familiar actors. The dataset includes movie titles, release dates, specific locations, historic notes, director, and up to three starring actors.

From Lauren Bacal to Goldie Hawn, Clint Eastwood to Robin Williams, Sean Penn and Jet Li, the dataset presents a fun walk through San Francisco film history even in raw spreadsheet form. James Bond was here, in “View to a Kill,” and along with legendary films such as “Vertigo,” “Bullitt,” and the “Dirty Harry” series, San Francisco and its beautiful neighborhoods and landscapes have also played in “Forrest Gump,” “Herbie Rides Again,” “So I Married an Axe Murderer,” “The Candidate,” “The Princess Diaries” and hundreds more films.

The City’s open data hub,, hosts government data in machine-readable format, and was enshrined in law this fall. The Department of Technology and innovations manager Jay Nath administer the site, and applications developers have built dozens of civic apps based on the data. City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s Office also plays a role, with departmental counsel vetting data sets for private citizen information before release. Applications built on City data are featured in the City’s App Showcase – and hopefully we’ll be seeing new additions for movie fans there in the near future.

– 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