Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Why we should continue to watch Asking for help… and iPhone apps

with one comment

There is all sorts of innovation going on at the Obama transition Web site As I mentioned earlier, it will be interesting to see how Obama’s online efforts evolve as they shift from a campaigning mode to a governing mode where they have to deal with a whole bureaucracy, but… in the meantime, it is fascinating to watch how the site is just going out and getting things done.

Two items that demonstrate this: asking for help… and the iPhone apps.

* Asking for help

One of the remarkable things about Web 2.0 — my definition: Web 2.0 are tools that tap into the theory that all of us are smarter then each of us individually — and one of the remarkable things about Web 2.0 is that you don’t have to know everything. If you truly believe that all of us are smarter then each of us individually, then if there is something that I don’t know, I can ask for help and there is a good chance that somebody else out there might have some expertise.

How does this apply to Well, the transition team posted a New Year Day blog post, New challenges, new opportunities — a post that has received, at last check, 442 comments. At the end of the post, somewhat innocuously, they have this:

Disclaimer: Comments on this topic are powered by IntenseDebate, a third party service. Here is their privacy policy. Have feedback on this commenting system or want to suggest a better way to do this? Let us know.

( puts a link to IntenseDebate’s privacy policy, but not to its Web site, so… here is the link to IntenseDebate’s Web site, so… I will.)

I still have questions about how they selected InstenseDebate — was there a request for proposals, or… how was it selected? Those kinds of bureaurcratic questions aside, I think this is such a wonderful way to deal with the issue. It’s transparent — you are telling people that they are using a third party service and that they ahve their own privacy policy. And it taps into Web 2.0 by asking people to come up with a solution, if they have one. Meanwhile it still allows the organization to get the job done without putting everything on hold.

The other example is the iPhone application where, like other examples of where government releases data is a usable way, people then create… Read more about the iPhone app … after the break.

* iPhone apps

The iPhone Application

The iPhone Application

I’ve mentioned other examples where governments have freed up their data, which then allowed people to use that data in various ways. is doing that too — and one almost immediate application has developed — a iPhone application. That application was developed by Ceradoread more on their blog here.

This opening up of the content on has the stated intent that “anyone can take the policy points and discussions from the site and create their own remix or branch of it.”… When (technology + information + inspiration) are allowed to work together, astounding things can happen in the blink of an eye. Innovation can happen, anywhere, at near-instantaneous speed.

Read the full post here… and get the iPhone application here.

We’re going to have the head of Cerado, Christopher Carfi, on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris next week. I also a tad bit embarrassed to say that I simply don’t know that much about the Creative Commons. I’ve been reading their their FAQ. I’ve sent them a note to get somebody on Federal News Radio 1500 AM to talk about it too… it seems very interesting. Would love additional information or people to can educate us.

In the meantime, I continue to watch to see what other interesting things they do.

Hat tip:

Written by cdorobek

January 2, 2009 at 5:29 PM

One Response

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  1. […] The blog, for example, doesn’t even allow comments. The transition Web site,, was seen as very innovative, but in the end wasn’t a government Web site. When it transformed into […]

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