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DC Codeathon Event Gathers Developers of Open Source Projects for Government

Developers create citability, transparency tools to meet open governance directive.

by / April 5, 2010

In what could jump-start agencies' steps toward open government, a two-day Codeathon event for the developer and IT communities will be held this weekend in Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by Microsoft and the League of Technical Voters (LTV) -- a nonprofit group that aims to motivate and assist technical experts to improve lawmaking and governmental processes -- the event will display examples of improved citability on government Web sites.

Citability supports making public government documents and data available online and citable so they can be easily referenced for public debate, commentary and analysis, according to the event Web page. This requires that archived versions of documents be stored and linkable so that changes can be easily spotted and reference links remain intact.

"This is a great way to spend time with a lot of other smart, interesting techies while putting your skills toward something good in the world," according to the Web page. "We will make the implementation of citability free and easy for government employees by providing modifications to free open source software, new free software and extensions to existing proprietary systems."

The citations can be as simple as linking a specific paragraph in a policy by a blogger or as complex as a group of attorneys and judges debating a regulation, Microsoft officials stated in a press release.

"Imagine the level of community participation an advocacy organization could create by having an authoritative source for budget line items or the support a nonprofit could receive by pointing to specific budgetary links to available funding sources for its cause or perhaps justify to its constituency why their donations would help more," the release stated.

The projects will be demonstrated Sunday, April 11, after which they'll be showcased online, said Dan Kasun, senior director of Microsoft's U.S. Public Sector Evangelism. "The projects will speak for themselves," he said. "It's a chance to work with other people to solve some real problems in government today."

Below is a listing of what to expect at the event, according to Microsoft and the LTV:

  • View new video annotation tools so people can cite a specific part of a video and can also tag those citations with different levels of access to annotate.
  • Watch demonstration of how to archive, version and cite live changing data sets while using a minimum amount of storage space. 
  • See how archive servers can be cloned to other organizations where they can separately add their own annotations. 
  • See how archive servers can be cloned to other organizations where they can separately add their own annotations. 
  • Explore how our archive server can help divergent agencies share data more easily. 
  • Proposed integration of existing citation standards like Dublin Core, URN:LEX and microformats.

This is the first year Microsoft and the LTV have joined forces to host an event aimed specifically at open governance and citability, Kasun said.

"Ultimately the goal of the event is to provide a venue for people with a variety of backgrounds, using a variety of technologies, to come together and work on solutions for a common goal -- openness in government and transparency," Kasun said.

To attend and view the final demonstrations:
April 11, 2010, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
5404 Chevy Chase, Md. 20814



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Karen Wilkinson

Karen is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.

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