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NoreneS
27-09-2009, 09:44 PM
Over the past several decades, innovation and progress in software and electronics development have profoundly changed the way we live our lives and interact with each other and the world around us. Hardware advances have produced computers capable of sorting through virtual mountains of data on a near-instant basis, while leaps in software ingenuity have connected that data and the people who use it with astonishing breadth and precision.

This online community, featuring user-generated content, real-time public discussion boards and free universal access, is but one of millions of examples of the shift in social organization and knowledge sharing that has been brought about by the information age.

The private sector has been a key driver of change, embracing the possibilities brought on by new technologies. Current online market leaders like Google, Youtube, Twitter and Blogger have built products and services that allow us to create, share and organize web content to our liking. Rather than subscribe to a traditional newspaper, people can customize the information they receive online – using a mix of blogs, tweets, mainstream media news sites and other online content to participate in the global conversation. Whatever one’s take is on the causes or effects of this shift information dispersal, the implications for the way we connect and interact with each other are enormous.

As can be expected, some organizations have integrated more seamlessly with the web than others. Some of our oldest and grandest institutions, the three orders of elected government, have been somewhat slower out of the gate to embrace the possibilities that new media technologies open up. And it’s hard to blame them. After all, government in general, and representative democracy in particular, has been around far longer than the oldest microchip. Put simply, our government institutions weren’t designed to serve a web-enabled society. And what is the purpose of a democratic government, if not to serve the people?

In cities across Canada, people have been thinking about this, and wondering what might be done about it. Inspired by “unconference” style events common in the software development community, where a group of like-minded people gather in a relatively unstructured format to riff on ideas and share perspectives, a group in Toronto developed the concept of Changecamp.

Changecamp is a very simple idea: a group of people come together to consider the question “How to we re-imagine government and citizenship in the age of participation?” At its essence, Changecamp is about embarking on the process of re-thinking our systems to make sure that they are still relevant for us, given the recent scale of change in the way the world works.

Changecamp events have taken place in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver, and the first one ever in Edmonton is scheduled for Saturday October 17, 2009 at Lister Hall at the U of A.

Changecamp is not a political party or a lobby group. It has no leader and no Board of Directors. It is a third-space entity, outside of the sphere of government but not in the private sector either. It’s always open to new people, new ideas and new energy. It’s tough to put your finger on quite what it is that’s happening, just like the times.

The day will begin with a brief introduction by a moderator who will lay out some very basic ground rules but impose minimal structure otherwise. Participants will then have an opportunity to pitch an idea to the whole group as a discussion topic. Some of the ideas that came forward in other cities were an online registry of federal stimulus fund expenditures, the implementation of an open-data protocol at City Hall, and an action committee focused on pursuing the changecamp philosophy at Council hearings. Anyone is free to make a pitch at this stage of the day, and all are encouraged to do so.

All the ideas pitched then go up on a grid at the front of the room, and participants vote on the ideas that they are most interested in pursuing. Once a manageable number of topics has been arrived at, the large group splits into breakout sessions with each participant joining the session that interests them most. There are a series of breakout sessions throughout the day so that participants can give input on a handful of topics. Ideally, if an idea is strong enough and a group is passionate about it, a follow-up action plan will develop to pursue the achievement of the desired outcome. If a discussion falls apart due to disagreement or inherent weaknesses in the proposal, that’s fine too.

The objective of the day is to bring a diverse group of engaged thinkers together to discuss issues and strategies relating to the central question. If there are no tangible action plans that develop during the day, at minimum some wonderful personal connections will have been made. A more likely outcome though is that when Edmontonians from the arts, design, hi-tech, new media, communications, political, government and policy communities all get together, something great will happen.

If you are a believer in a better way, why not be a part of it.

Details

Date: Saturday October 17, 2009

Start Time: Registration at 8:30 a.m., event at 9:00 a.m.

End Time: 4:00 p.m.

Location: Maple Leaf Room, Lister Conference Centre, University of Alberta.

Learn more and register on our website: http://www.changecampedmonton.ca/
(http://www.changecampedmonton.ca/)
Join our google group: http://groups.google.com/group/changecamp-edmonton

Changecamp Canada wiki: http://wiki.changecamp.ca/ (http://wiki.changecamp.ca/)

Twitter hashtag: #yegchange

-- Justin Archer

Hadrion
01-10-2009, 11:26 AM
I'd love to see Edmonton open up its data on everything like Washington DC has (even trees location/info). The possibilities that developers could code to make use of the data are endless.

Free the Data!

mastermaq
01-10-2009, 12:59 PM
I've been campaigning for this for a while now. There will be a session on it at ChangeCamp (http://www.changecampedmonton.ca) on the 17th. Some City of Edmonton IT reps will be attending too.

Hadrion
01-10-2009, 02:18 PM
Why was this moved into the changecamp announcement?
Is it not a valid idea? It certainly goes beyond just a changecamp idea...

CityHallGuy
17-11-2009, 06:21 PM
Building on the discussions at the citizen-led ChangeCamp event in Edmonton on Oct. 17, 2009, the City is exploring its approach to open data - what data could be made openly accessible, how should the data be available, formats, priorities, etc.
The work is underway, but more citizen input is needed. The next step is a workshop on Nov. 21, 2009, to discuss the topic, opportunities and concerns.
All are welcome.
http://www.edmonton.ca/OpenData