Open Government

Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice

by Daniel Lathrop , Laurel Ruma

Number of pages: 432

Publisher: O’Reilly Media

BBB Library: Politics and Public Affairs

ISBN: 9780596804350

About the Authors

Daniel Lathrop : Lathrop is a former investigative projects reporter with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.


Laurel Ruma : Ruma is the Gov 2.0 Evangelist at O'Reilly Media. She has


Editorial Review

Open government is the notion that the people have the right to access the documents and proceedings of government. The idea that the public has a right to scrutinize and participate in government dates at least to the Enlightenment. Its principles are recognized in virtually every democratic country on the planet.  But the very meaning of the term continues to evolve. The concept of open government has been influenced—for the better—by the open source software movement, and taken on a greater focus for allowing participation in the procedures of government. Just as open source software allows users to change and contribute to the source code of their software, open government now means government where citizens not only have access to information, documents, and proceedings, but can also become participants in a meaningful way. Open government also means improved communication and operations within the various branches and levels of government. More sharing internally can lead to greater efficiency and accountability. 

Book Reviews

" What is surprising is that editors Daniel Lathrop and Laurel Ruma and O’Reilly Media have managed to make a potentially wonky topic like Government 2.0 accessible, fresh and actually interesting. Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice is a big (432 pages), beautiful book, from the gorgeous, sumptuous cover to the breadth of ideas and angles inside. In its collection of 34 essays written by thought leaders and practitioners in government reform, the book offers dozens of examples of a new approach to government: open, democratic, distributed, bottom-up, shareable, data-driven and focused on making “we the people” a reality again." - Social Brite

" The book, however, brings a lot of substance to the public debate about open government and offers a range of highly interesting essays and case studies on many aspects involving transparency, participation and collaboration in the public sector. " Intellitics

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Wisdom to Share

Now the question is: what lessons can government take from the success of computer platforms, as it tries to harness the power of technology to remake government?

The platforms that are the most generative of new economic activity are those that are the most open.

Closely related to the idea of simplicity is the idea of designing for participation.

The contest between the government and transparency advocates is usually rigged against transparency.

No citizen should have to rely on the word of politicians to judge the efficacy of government programs.

Right now, technologists insist that they’re building neutral platforms for anyone to find data on any issue.

Journalists insist that they’re objective observers of the facts.

Transparency can be a powerful thing, but not in isolation.

Open government is good, only when it’s open in an efficient way.