From E-Democracy’s Chicago CityCamp, Jan 22-24

January 29

I’ve been waiting all week to do this wrapup of E-Democracy’s pretty amazing  CityCamp last weekend for about 100 civic-minded IT folks from some 30 states, with dozens of them doing IT for cities large and small.  Here’s the  full program. Tone was set first thing Saturday AM by Tim O’Reilly (IT author and coiner of the term “Web 2.0“) and his kickoff interview of San Francisco CIO Chris Vein, pictured right, fearless proponent for open source & Gov 2.0 (good 20 second video and very informative 19 minute video).

The night before, at the Friday meet & greet, I had a lively hour with E-Democracy founder and Minneapolis resident Steve Clift (pictured below) Chicago web & app designer Crystal Wilson (who works “with urban planners to make visible what is otherwise misunderstood, unseen, or only imagined) and Benet Haller, Director of Chicago’s Planning and Development Department.  Also met Aaron Soules and Conor White-Sullivan of Amherst, MA, whose Localocracy site, soon to launch, struck me as having lots in common with the information gathering, processing and resolution  (problem-solving) mechanism that we’re developing here at Chicago Civic Media (we’re also a couple months from launching our site). Then a nice long latish-night walk to Billy Goat’s Tavern with Mike Trakan of Chicago’s Cabrini Connections and Mapping for Justice to introduce Peter Fleck of Minneapolis to the celebrated Chicago “cheezbuggah”.

On Saturday at the U. of I. Innovation Center, I floated like a butterfly to get glimpses and sometime good looks at all 8 or 10 sessions being run simultaneously, taking notes and once stinging like a bee when foreclosures and not gang and drugs was mentioned as Chicago’s #1 unsolved problem (Susannah, I apologize, hope I didn’t distract too much).

Two presentations stood out for me.  Apps for Democracy, by Peter Corbett of istrategylabshere’s his 20 second Gov 2.0 video – was full of invaluable ideas – here’s his 20 page booklet – for anyone who wants to engage IT people (or anyone) in creative ways. The second, by Jon Udell on the seemingly innocuous (to me) topic of event aggregation, whose elmcity project opened my eyes to the enormous social bonding potential of properly tagged RSS feeds.  I can only hope this summary doesn’t misrepresent his intense presentation – and I don’t know if he liked it when at the end I jokingly said I’d “remember has as the Ted Turner of social media.”  Afterwards it was Peter Fleck who steered me to Jon’s IT Conversations with IT innovators covering a “wide range of issues at the intersection of technology and society.” Huge resource.

This account is so incomplete! I gotta mention the presentations by Keith Hurwitz on Microsoft’s  Open Government Data Initiative, Steve Clift on Public Meetings, and SusannahVazquez, Director of LISC Chicago’s New Communities Program. And it was great to meet my homey and fellow high school alumnus from New Haven, the gregarious Ben Berkowitz of SeeClickFix. And the redoubtable Daniel X. O’Neil of EveryBlock!

Now to explore all the sites I just put up here! Thanks, Steve Clift, and thanks Rockefeller Foundation & other sponsors for a great event.

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