Transparency Camp is a project of the Sunlight Foundation. Shannon and I held a session on "What citizen science can teach open government"
The notes below are also located at: http://transparencycamp.org/schedule/2013/participation-online-and-offline-community-buildin/
From simply saying hello to your neighbor to moderating online listserves, there's a sometimes bewildering array of interactions that go into building community around open data. Join Public Lab -- a 2,000+ member global community dedicated to open environmental research -- in discussing models, methods, and the occasional madness of online and offline interaction.
crowdsourcing does not equal participation
- crowdharvesting issues in science participation
- projects framed as "getting people to participate in what we want to do" are not going to yield robust community development
- Instead, helping people to skill-up to be the authors of their own agendas will yield lasting engagement
- if you refer to people participating in your projects as users, you probably are going to have a buy-in problem later on
- In Public Lab, for people who contribute to the knowledge base, organize events, and spread the word of open source get nominated to join the "organizers" group: an elected body of community leaders who shape the direction of Public Lab, co-author articles, apply for funding together, and make public presentations on behalf of Public Lab. 40+ members and growing.
Offline + Online
- Cross-community collaboration-- local knowledge transfer
- Offline (outside!) local groups meet online to share and work together with other localities and people with diverse expertise
- Local face-to-face activities are where most of the work happens -- Public Lab is about local issues and doing local research
- Posting this online as "research notes" and discussing results and issues on the mailing lists is how we amplify our work and advance the community as a whole.
- We hold events called "barn raisings"-- a community of diverse constituents collectively gathering to share knowledge, strategy and tactics ranging from technical how-to's to ethical considerations. It may look like an unconference, but it traces its roots back to Open Space Technology which predated the modern "foo camp"
- Public Lab works with people from varied backgrounds that each uniquely contribute "local expertise"-- social science, community organizing, activism, journalism, biological sciences, design and hardware design (for instance)
- reach out and make connections, find what you share in common instead of trying to define boxes for everyone's separate expertise.
- for in-person collaboration time, shut your laptops. Get out big paper, markers, and have a conversation.
Open data generated for a reason
- small data vs big data
- advocacy driven field work to support existing community agendas versus trying to "discover" insight from random buckets of data dumped from other initiatives
- Process driven-- not just about the data, about getting people to understand the process of collecting and generating data from the ground up