This evening, United States President Barack Obama will be delivering the annual State of the Union address at 9pm EST (if you want to learn more about the tradition of the State of the Union address in the United States, the White House has put together a nice video about the history and making of it here).
The president’s staff is trying out an interesting concept during tonight’s address. Here is an excerpt from an email sent out this afternoon with the details:
This year we’re trying something new. As President Obama addresses the Nation, we’ll offer a companion stream of visual aids, including charts and quick stats about what’s happening in the country. You can view this feature at WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU.
Immediately following the speech, stay tuned for our live Open for Questions event with policy experts from the White House answering your questions about key issues in the speech.
They’ve branded the event with the slogan “Watch & Engage” and have planned a whole week of events where citizens can participate in interactive sessions with government officials including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebellus, and many others.
I’ll be interested to see how this plays out. Over the past two years, I’ve been excited to see many attempts within the US government to increase transparency, improve sharing of information, and create better forums for citizen collaboration. I’ve also seen examples where transparency, openness, and engagement are more spin than substance.
Which will this be? I’ll have to stay by my computer tonight and find out. If you decide to do the same, please feel free to share your experiences and opinions.
[This article originally appeared on opensource.com]
Very cool article in the New York Times yesterday entitled Care to Write Army Doctrine? With an ID, Log On.
The gist is the Army is running an experiment in mass participation, allowing any member of the Army, from five star general to latrine specialist, to edit a test group of seven Army field manuals using an online wiki. From the article:
“For a couple hundred years, the Army has been writing doctrine in a particular way, and for a couple months, we have been doing it online in this wiki,” said Col. Charles J. Burnett, the director of the Army’s Battle Command Knowledge System. “The only ones who could write doctrine were the select few. Now, imagine the challenge in accepting that anybody can go on the wiki and make a change — that is a big challenge, culturally.”
It sounds like the reaction within the Army has been all across the map, some viewing it as an extremely progressive step forward to others thinking the idea is totally crazy. But top Army leadership appears to be behind the idea. Again from the article:
The idea has support at the highest ranks. Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., wrote on the center’s blog on July 1, that “by embracing technology, the Army can save money, break down barriers, streamline processes and build a bright future.”
Here at Dark Matter Matters, we give this idea a huge +1. The army is employing some of the same principles we open source folks have employed to great success. A few key parts of the open source way applied here: