16 June 2011

Collaborative Code and Culture Change

Filed under News

I moderated the Collaborative Code Panel at the OpenGovDC Conference on Tuesday and was pleasantly surprised at the focus of the discussion.

First, I should say that I was honored to share the stage with Dan McSwain from the FCC, Rob Winikates from the White House, and Nick Skytland from NASA; each of which is doing amazing work within their own agency. We set out to discussion collaborative code, primarily with a focus on open source software, but specifically about the complexities and benefits of using open source software, releasing software for external use that is developed internally, and working with other entities and individuals outside of the agency to collaboratively develop software.

The surprising part of the discussion was that it kept returning to how government culture is changing to align itself with these same principles. To say that this is driven by the open source software movement is probably an overstatement, but nonetheless the similarities are fairly remarkable. So many of the examples that Nick, Rob, and Dan spoke of related to the complexities of gaining adoption for these ideas, enabling government employees to see the benefits of collaboration, and realizing that the best solutions to any problem are outsideĀ  the walls of your organization.

It’s great to see these ideas taking hold. The government is changing and if we’re not careful, it may come to be seen as effective again one day (Yes, I am an optimist. Why do you ask?).

From right to left:
Nick Skytland, NASA; Rob Winikates, White House; Dan McSwain, FCC; yours truly.

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