Halsoverkop project-des-ontwikkelen

Taplin schreef van de week al dat de economische crisis onrust en onveiligheid op lokaal niveau tot gevolg zou hebben. Blijkt dat Dubai al het ravijn in glijdt en niemand weet hoe erg het daadwerkelijk is.

Nu is het nogal onhandig om in tijden van crisis de boel nog verder aan te halen en geen informatie vrij te geven zodat de paniek alleen maar groter kan worden. Het gerucht gaat al dat de eilanden teruggeclaimed worden door de zee (waarschijnlijk omdat de baggeraars zonder werk in Nederland zitten).

Wie had gedacht dat dunebashen in SUVs en snowboarden in het midden van de woestijn niet houdbaar zouden zijn? Als het Dubai-Disney niet eens marginaal economisch duurzaam is, hoe ecologisch duurzaam had het dan kunnen zijn?

Megalomane projecten waarvan iedereen aan had kunnen zien komen dat ze de noodzakelijke onderbouwing misten. Ook al durfden weinigen dat te zeggen in het aanzicht van het ‘economische wonder’. Nu hebben we gezien waar economische wonderen van analysten, investeerders en bankiers toe leiden.
Blijkt dus dat je geen wereld kunt bouwen in 10 jaar, ook al heb je nog zoveel hijskranen.

Van de week ging ook al het TVCC gebouw in Beijing in vlammen op. Het heeft er niks mee te maken maar een zekere symboliek valt niet te ontkennen.

Guidelines for government data

This weekend I visited the Barcamp UK Govweb (#ukgc09, barcamp) in London to talk with people about government websites, data and see what the state of the art is in the UK on this topic. It was a very interesting meeting and I learned a lot from people who’ve been doing this for far longer than I have been.

Stand around

Government Data

Open Government Data Session Tack-on Free For All

One of the most interesting was the session on government data and the various initiatives and other activities that are being advocated to give us better and easier access to government data to make cooler stuff.

A lot of issues about current initiatives were discussed, about various Click-Use Licenses and about how open data should be financed.

Guidelines

One of the things that I found surprising is that most people present were firmly against a set of guidelines about how to open up your data.

I agree that a set of guidelines like these if done improperly can cause more pain than they solve and maybe they are not necessary in the UK with the OPSI in place. In the Netherlands we would like an open data process where everybody who has data and would like to open it up could go to and get advice what the best strategy is.

I want to prevent situations where when faced with the problem how to open up data, a government body contracts it out and we get a site with a bunch of PDFs in return. Guidelines can’t catch all cases, but we should be able to create something which prevents the worst from happening while simultaneously not tying us down when we try to make usable systems.

Everybody present in the government data session implicitly knows what should be done when opening up data but the problem is that this knowledge is tacit and in that form is useless to any government official interested in opening up their data. If you’re in that position and you’re willing to consider opening up your data in a ‘developer friendly’ format, it would be nice if we had more to offer to you than some vague ideas.

None of the rules in the guidelines should be definitive, they probably should be in the form of a series of questions with explanations so people are forced to consider stuff and by answering those questions come to a better end result.

As far as I am concerned the main rule should be to avoid unnecessary complexity when publishing data and consider stuff such as potential users and their needs, licensing, description, URL/availability and data format. I agree you cannot draft guidelines which guarantee a good outcome but I do know that change is necessary.

Initiatives

During the session a number of initiatives were named, maybe somebody else has a more definitive list:

I think the Hack The Government Day that Rewired State are planning is a very good idea. It’s been something of a year since we had our last govcamp in the Netherlands but I also see the need to combine the currently running initiatives into a more developer related event.

Rita kan ook niet meer doen

Vandaag op Twitter al gezien dat Rita Verdonk goed aangepakt is door Alexander Pechtold. Kijk het filmpje op dumpert, opleggen en erin schieten.

Ik vind het sowieso ongeloofwaardig dat Rita Verdonk op dit moment direct voeling heeft met het moraal van onze troepen. Kan iemand dit bevestigen?

Zoals ik op Jaiku al schrijf, als je iemand verbaal zo hard aan kunt pakken dat ze hun voeting verliezen, dan ben je goed.

En dat D’66, dat is misschien nog wel wat.

Parlement Transparant

Ik ben op dit moment wat aan het werk in het domein van de open overheid. Er zijn in dit veld een heleboel initiatieven en partijen betrokken in verschillende stadia van vordering. Één overheidsinstantie die belachelijk achterloopt is ons parlement. Het is op dit moment bijna ondoenlijk om te achterhalen wie er bij een stemming aanwezig waren en wie wat gestemd hebben.

Er loopt al een tijdje een petitie ‘Alle stemmen tellen in de Tweede Kamer’ die volgende week aangeboden wordt maar veel valt er niet van te verwachten. Onze volksvertegenwoordigers in Den Haag zien er geen belang in om controleerbaar te zijn (Wie controleert de controleurs?). Lees hierover dit stuk op Sargasso: “Parlement 2.0? Voorlopig nog niet”.

Je kunt de petitie trouwens nog ondertekenen als je dat nog niet gedaan hebt op Petities.nl.

Het is schandelijk dat het nu zo moeilijk is om te achterhalen wie wat gestemd heeft bij een motie of wetsvoorstel. Iemand citeerde dat het hem 45 minuten kostte en dat is dan nog als alles gepubliceerd is wat ook nog flink wat tijd schijnt te kosten.

Als alle stemmingen in een goed formaat inleesbaar zouden zijn, dan kun je heldere actuele kaarten maken van de stemmingen in de Tweede Kamer voor referentie en onderzoek, maar interessanter nog zou je statistisch kunnen analyseren welke partijen meer of minder fractiediscipline hebben en welke politici op basis van stemgedrag eigenlijk bij een andere partij horen en noem zo maar op.

Flattened Conflict

The Guardian shows a clip of the recent armed confrontations in Hebron due to the riots by Jewish settlers. I had read earlier about B’Tselem handing out small camera’s to Palestinians so they could record settler aggression and this is a clip that came out of that program.

This is a precursor to how amateur media are going to become even more important to the dissemination of news and how new media can flatten information asymmetry quite effectively.

One question remains about asymmetry and that is asymmetry in mainstream media reporting. The British press has a reputation to have one of the more fair and balanced reports on the conflict (as does for instance Ha’aretz). I am curious if Dutch mainstream media have aired this fairly graphic clip, I can’t find anything on either the NOS playeror the main NOS site and neither on RTL Nieuws.

Anybody seen this on Dutch television?

Tax on knowledge

I called with the taxman yesterday to clarify some stuff. I had surmised that profesionally relevant books could be deducted as expenses. Now it seems there is a very fine distinction.

Profesionally relevant books which are being used to remain up to date in a given field of knowledge are deductable. Books which you are using to deepen and widen your knowledge however are study books and these as such are not deductable.

This is of course pure semantics and it can never be proved that you are using books either way, so given an audit just be sure never to mention the word “study” and you’ll be fine.

And to think our government is trying to create a knowledge economy.

Uprising tomorrow

Tomorrow I’m going to attend Students for Free Culture. I may not be a student anymore, but I still regularly ride with that crowd and the conference has a great program and is for anybody with an interest in the topic. So, getting up early and taking the BART down into Berkeley. I’ll see if I can use my newly bought Kodak to record a couple of keynotes.

If you’re in the Netherlands, there’s an event along a lot of the same lines called Volksopstand2008(lit.: uprising) where a group of people will gather in the Hague to protest the attrition of privacy by our government and other institutions. I recommend you go, though I’m a bit late in doing so

Downsize and change

Taplin writes about America having to buckle up and go to the simpler life, which I think might not be such a bad thing:

In short, deleveraging means we are all going to have to downsize. You life is going to get simpler, you will shed excess baggage. The second hand stores will flourish. The malls will shrink and there will be fewer of them. You will spend more evenings at home around a table with friends than in high priced restaurants. You might even learn to play an instrument to entertain yourself and your friends rather than shelling out $200 a head for Rolling Stones concert seats. You will put up your solar roof and sell power back to the grid. You will drive a hybrid or use mass transit. Your garden will become a prime source of your food.

A call for simpler, more meaningful and more passionate lives not built on consumptive and external validation. Sounds like a good idea to me.

He also linked up this hilarious fictional dialogue between Obama and Jed Bartlett in the Times.