Dan Schneiderman

OG Camp NYC 2011

11 June 2011

Open Government Camp was held at NYU’s School of Journalism last Sunday. It was a mix of programmers, developers, politicians, and mix of others from all over the world. For those who have been to a BarCamp, it followed a very similar schedule.

The start of the day everyone gives a brief introduction of who they are and where they are from, along with three words followed by some opening/key remarks. From there, the schedule of the day is made from anyone who wants to give a presentation.

I started out the day by going to a discussion on the challenges of getting non-profit projects going. The room seemed to be filled with a ton of different companies and people who all want to be a part of something to give back to people. During the discussion, the main problem that everyone brought up (besides funding) was the challenge of finding programmers. At this point I brought up the one source that no one ever thought of. College students. To me it just seemed like the obvious answer. I’m constantly surrounded by programmers at RIT who are looking for jobs. If more non-profits or open government companies went to colleges, I’m sure they would have a better chance of finding a programmer to help them with their project. Another solution that people mentioned was going to open-source communities and seeing who might be able to help. I wish that we had slightly more time to continue the session, but unfortunately, time ran out before we could figure out more solutions to the other problems people brought up.

I dedicated the next session to catching up with the “usual suspects” that I’ve hung out with at the different open government conferences. It has only been a month since I last saw people at Transparency Camp back in Washington DC, but it’s always great talking with Noel, Brett, and friends from the Sunlight Foundation. For the third session, I went to a live coding session led by Mark Headd who created a quick app to find the nearest library to a given address within NYC. He was using a mix of Ruby, CouchDB, and PHP. It was entertaining to watch as a developer. I recommend checking out his code at: https://gist.github.com/1009311

The last session I went to was on Civic Commons. I’ve heard similar talks by them, but I thought I would check it out anyhow. Most of it was the same as I have heard before. They talked about Open311 (the most used example at any open government conference), working with new cities on getting them started with collaboration across agency lines though technology, and SeeClickFix.com. I was hoping to hear more about Code For America, but the session ended in debate of criticisms between two people and everyone else just phased out.

Over all it was a good day and good prep for the following days at PdF.

You can find my notes from the conference at: https://github.com/schneidy/Notes-from-Confernces/blob/master/2011/OGCamp.txt