Keawakapu beach misty tide on Flickr.

After almost 10 months of waiting to process this series, I’ve finally published what turned out to be my favorite landscape image of the past 12 months, hope you enjoy it also. If you love it enough to want it, it will be available as a fine art print in large sizes and also in modern canvas prints starting at 20×30 inches.

The incredible agency of #opendata

The way we phrase our conceptions is both a simple thing and a complex, layered thing. I’m spending today at CITRIS for a conference of leaders, practitioners and vendors focused on the topic of:

Can “Open Data” Improve Democratic Governance?

This questions is proposed frequently amongst the circles pushing for open data from our governments. But I think we’re making a mistake at the outset, we’re assigning agency to a lifeless, purely digital concept. We need to be smarter than this.

Can Open Data do anything, let alone improve democratic governance?

Hell No.

Open Data can not do anything as it’s just data, numbers, whatever, sitting lifelessly on a sever in the magical cloud somewhere.

What is actually important here? It’s in OPENING data that we do things. What is important is that governments and agencies actually OPEN their data. That act, possible through the agency of the government officials (real people who can make this decision) is what can improve democratic governance.

Let’s not get caught up in vendor speak that some inanimate thing can actually do anything. People need to open their data, and other people must animate and utilize it.

So yes, Opening Data can do much.

Scale and demand

Reading a piece on the Detroit Assessors efforts to reassess every property in the city really struck me – I don’t think this is at all unique to Detroit either, but the scale of effort required by our laws and necessary in order to support a productive, fair urban society is seriously out of wack with our local governments abilities.

Horhn said the city has 11 assessors for nearly 386,000 parcels. That’s 35,000 parcels per assessor, nearly nine times the state recommendation of 4,000.

We have a legacy of heavy state, federal and local legislation that requires different agencies to carry out specific tasks, but over time those requirements have evolved, grown (sometimes ended too) yet the funding for many agencies has not grown with the ask.  Short of some incredible and super reliable innovation, there is no way on earth that this assessors workforce can ever meet their mandate. This is one more case of the requirements never being met and the result is obviously not good for the city of Detroit.  As government slowly becomes more open, more such situations will be discovered, forcing us to ask more difficult questions about the way we do things, the expectations and the layered regulations that impact us on the local level.

Somewhat like the issues Oakland faces with a heavily reduced police force (in large part budget related) and increasing crime. There’s no way to do this without being smarter, much smarter. I’m not going to suggest that technology is the solution, but I’m sure that there are smarter ways to do things that do use technology, people and processes better!

STORY

No, dear. That is not at all what I meant. I detest male-bashing. I meant equal pay for equal work & that means for men as well as women. I mean everyone, men and women, should have reproductive rights. Feminism could have been the great equalizer, but it was hijacked and misrepresented by so many men and women, it’s become a derogatory term. I’m proud to be a feminist. I’m not proud of the women and men who think feminism is a license to be abusive towards men.

From MissBerk.com

respect

Day 1 of Hummingbird project on Flickr.

Housewarming gift turned out to be a double whammy! Set up the feeder yesterday and hoped- haven’t seen many birds in our new area, not sure if it’s the location, our second floor height or the lack of flower gardens in the area. But today has been crazy with hummingbirds. A family of three are fighting and drinking all day long. Good times.