Recently Project Open Data launched Next.Data.gov as a vision for where Data.gov might go. It does a nice job of promoting the use of government data and modelling examples of companies who have successfully used that data. It builds on some of the ideas of the earlier Alpha.Data.gov which presented the idea of showcasing data sets and connecting them with stories of the data in use by the private sector.
The launch was accompanied by requests for feedback. I put together some thoughts on an area I think could be explored a bit: profiling prominent data sets through conversations with subject matter experts who understand and can share the value of the data with people who may not immediately understand its value. Take a look at what I put together.
Danny Chapman got me thinking. He asked, “What would it be like if our legislative bodies were more balanced between lawyers and people who make things we interact with every day - designers, entrepreneurs and engineers?” Better, for sure. I don’t know what it would take for that to come about, but having people who are thinking about the experience of the implemented law would definitely make the experiences better.
Then I started thinking about how things are made now. Making things inside government is different than making things outside of it.
I’m not in the camp that believes the private sector is a panacea. There are problems in the private sector just as in the public sector. Most of my career has been outside of government, and I haven’t experienced a perfect project yet. But I believe that an awareness of the context within which you are making something helps make that thing better.
I’ve made things in both worlds. In the hope that they may be helpful in improving the making of things within government, I thought I’d lay out some of my observations about the differences.
In all our efforts creating, designing, and developing websites or other digital products, our goal should be improvement. Yes, our craftsmanship and technique. Of course, our content and tools. But more importantly, the efficacy of all this work. This article explores one approach that may help tackle one of our biggest challenges: communicating effectively about complex, confusing topics.
I don’t write much about the Web medium here. I’ve tried to keep the content here more broadly applicable than just specific to practitioners of my industry. But I think about this stuff a lot. It’s what I spend most of my time doing. “Communicating Complexity” is a long-form look at some of the problems we face communicating complex issues on the Web and proposes a possible route to doing it better.
techPresident ran a piece I wrote about the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which I believe is a wonderful opportunity for designers, technologists, and everyone from the broad spectrum of specializations that make up the Web and tech world.
“I’m not being hyperbolic. You will do deeply meaningful work. You will work with truly inspiring people. And you will become significantly better at whatever it is you do. You’ll step up your game. My time working on HealthCare.gov was truly life changing. The opportunity that is being made available through the Presidential Innovation Fellows is remarkable. You should request an application right now.”
Not long before Lake Area Middle School was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, Jess Rimington was facilitating a classroom exchange program there; one of the earliest implementations of her then-fledgling organization, One World Youth Project. Jess’s classroom was paired with a classroom in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Over the course of the academic year, the students in her New Orleans classroom and their Mongolian counterparts shared their experiences, stories, and learned the similarities of their lives. They got to know each other.
When the floodwalls were breached, the Gentilly was flooded and with it, Lake Area Middle School. Jess heard nothing from her New Orleanian students. It would be months before she would hear the harrowing stories of students waving down planes from their rooftops or hear about the boy who was forced to break through his ceiling to get free.