Welcome to the new site of our scrappy non-profit organization, PPF, with our homepage redesigned in November and a group blog kicking off here & now. As mentioned below, we’re aiming to address the following big-picture issues with our surprisingly-flawed & undeniably-human political process: “government transparency, civic engagement, net neutrality, fighting systemic corruption, and comprehensive electoral reform.” Let’s do this thing.
The PPF team will collaboratively publish thoughts here, so be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed. Among other topics, we’ll look to cover at least the following bases: Carl Tashian, our Director of Technology, will write about our open-source development of OpenGovernment and more (e.g., our experience w/ civiCRM); Andy Ross, our lead OpenCongress Programmer since the site’s creation in 2006, will talk about our sprawling scraper code & Rails code base; Morgan Knutson, our Graphic and Web Designer, will drop some knowledge on user interfaces and his participation in the Dribbble design community; Donny Shaw, our Outreach Coordinator & Lead OC Blogger, will give overviews of what he’s learned over the last four years covering the news from the Beltway as part of the the reform & #opengov movements; Conor Kenny, our Wiki Editor, will publicize opportunities for involvement in community projects in semantic MediaWiki on the open Web; and more.
For my part, I look forward to putting out more regular thoughts about the Participatory Politics Foundation: our mission, some of our projects to date, and crucially, where we’re headed with OpenCongress (i.e., our wish list). An overview of PPF’s experience (in the free culture movement and in on-the-ground community organizing, in part), our work, and our core competencies in the #opengov landscape is coming up next in this space — and any such overview would surely need to start with a shout to our sibling non-profit, the Participatory Culture Foundation, working for a fairer and more democratic media space (hey0 if you like video, Get Miro!). My goal is to add solid (non-baffling) value to the ongoing #opengov discourse by suggesting some innovative short-, medium-, and long-term open-source projects for the dev community & designers to tackle together, and bake-in some critical-but-collaborative suggestions for different resource allocations in the open-source / #opengov world than we’ve seen so far over the past four years… OpenAllocation.org & ParticipatoryCriticism.net, perhaps. (Certainly no.)
Closer to the here & now, the biggest news this month will be the public launch of a beta version of OpenGovernment, a free, libre, and open-source web application for government transparency at any level: state, city, local, international, and more. Finally, a version of OpenCongress for your state legislature. To stay in touch as we roll out OpenGovernment to all 50 U.S. states, head over there and sign up for our low-volume email list. Last, today I started up an official @ppolitics Twitter account (also on Identi.ca, big ups to open source & open standards & open data) — looking forward to joining more of the discourse on social media. Other social networking accounts to come, while mitigating as much as possible the serious concerns posed by what Eli Pariser terms “filter bubbles” inherent in closed-source, commercial, top-down social media services. More to come on that as well.
Most of all, here on this reinvigorated publishing platform I look forward to hearing more feedback on our open-source, non-profit web development and expanding our community of volunteer programmers, building open-standards tools for transparent government for everyone, free of charge and freely-licensed. Holler at us (or email me at david at ppolitics d0t org) and let us know your skills, interests, and if you can help us secure more non-profit funding to expand our open-source development team. With OpenCongress and OpenGovernment, we have a good start at creating effective, popular civic engagement online, but really, we’re just getting started. Thanks for reading, and please give me a follow, as we get ready to unveil some major-league new public resources and make transparency more user-friendly than ever.
(Image above by our very own Morgan, forthcoming on the OpenGovernment web application … goodness, won’t it be useful to have a free tool to track government at every level? Blog post by PPF Executive Director, David Moore.)