Saturday, August 28, 2010

Freaks, Geeks and Queers

You won't see it it on TVNZ's Sports, Weather and News show, or 3 "News", or even Campbell Live, but something new happened in NZ today. Labour, at the urging of newbie MP Clare Curran, convened NZ's first Open Source party policy meeting.

The sole recognisable form of MSM observers present was Colin James, tucked away discreetly at the back. There were also a few bloggers present from outside the Labour tribe, including the pan-galactic David Farrar, who stayed all day and was on a panel exploring the themes. The VRWC can diss him all they like, but good on him for his taking part. Likewise the other non-aligned blogger, who shall remain nameless until they reveal themselves.

But apart from that, the event flew under the MSM radar. Which is somewhat of a shame, because it was the first time a NZ political party has ever convened an un-conference. OK, it wasn't quite as unstructured as a barcamp, but it's a start. The six themes to explore were formed in discussions prior to the event, openly and saliently.

Bear with me while I dig out my notes. Ah, damnit. I left the speakers list at the venue. Umm, there was this American guy on Skype from NYC who told where Obama's campaign screwed up. Essentially, they forgot all about the social networking and other networked bases they had used during the campaign for the first six months of being in office. Blame can be apportioned in part to the Clinton pre-internet people getting a lot of the top jobs with Obama too. They did not grok.

There was Oz Senator Kate Lundy pre-recorded, as well as her geek assistant who flew across the Tasman to front up in person. They spoke of two weighty reports in Oz; Engage, focusing on Gov 2.0 and Ahead of the Game, a blueprint for bureaucratic reform. It reminded me of Rod Deane taking an axe to the Public Service Manual back in the 1980's. We're talking serious cultural and attitudinal adjustment here.

Phil Goff kicked it all off. He's much better in person, eh. Charles Chauvel, Grant Robertson, Chris Hipkins and Maryan Street spoke also. Street sounded very much like a deputy leader.

The big news I learned today was that the Law Commission is conducting a review of the Official Information Act, which is due to report later this year. That'll be interesting. The consensus reached at OpenLabour was that public sector funded institutions, from the public service through to education to cabinet, should release documents by timely default, with limited exceptions involving national security and individual privacy.

There were differing opinions on how far this should apply. For example, PPPs. I say whomever pays the piper calls the tune. You get any local or central government funds, you show us your working.

I'm going to leave you with a few readily-transferable buzzwords I scribbled down throughout the day, as I'm hungry for dinner and a pipe. Make of them what you will:

Mass customisation
Software in dataset
Formatting etiquette
Information bottlenecks