Posts By Benjamin J. Balter

Want to innovate government? Focus on culture

When innovating in government, the technology’s the easy part. Innovative efforts often do one of two things: They take long-established technology from the private sector and inject it into an agency, or They reimagine long-assumed processes from the citizen’s perspective. The ultimate meta yak shave If you want to innovate government, 90-day, 120-day, or six-month… Read more »

Bet on the little guy

When one tells the story of the Internet, a David and Goliath motif emerges. Every time a technical challenged is faced, a new standard is needed, or a new design pattern takes center stage, two camps eventually emerge: One camp, generally constituting more “enterprise” users, needs super serious tools for super serious business. This could… Read more »

Government’s Release of Federally Funded Source Code: Public Domain or Open Source? Yes.

A petition was recently posted on We The People demanding that federally funded software be released under an open source license. Makes sense. The public should have access to what is technically their property. However, TechDirt posed the question of whether it should be released under an open-source license or public domain, and I’m afraid… Read more »

The Demise of the Personal Dashboard

I was recently asked how I would architect a personalized dashboard experience for visitors to a large, customer-facing website. My response? I wouldn’t. A dashboard in a car or airplane makes sense. It’s not as if I could click “speedometer” while driving or press the “altimeter” button while flying. I simply need everything at all… Read more »

Publishing Government Data That Developers Will Actually Use

Despite increasing public support (as well as a number of executive mandates) publishing public data in a machine-readable format is not as simple as pressing the “publish” button. Why? Equally important as exposing the information itself is fostering a vibrant developer ecosystem around it. By making the publishing agency, not the public, responsible for making… Read more »

CFPB Accepts First Citizen-Submitted Code on Behalf of Federal Government

“Fix typo.” Not quite “one small step for man,” but a significant first nonetheless. These simple words, typed by an open-source developer operating under the pseudonym “iceeey,” may represent the first collaborative effort between the federal government and the broader open-source community, and surely represents a tangible win for the open-government movement as a whole…. Read more »

What’s Missing from CFPB’s Awesome New Source Code Policy

Most often, when we talk about open source in government, it’s talked about in one of two ways: either it’s the pitfalls of the federal IT procurement model that can’t seem to comprehend a world in which open-source is an option, much less potentially a superior choice (“acquisition as a roadblock“), or it’s reiterating the… Read more »

WordPress for Government – A Problem of Perception

Over the past several years WordPress’s market share has enjoyed explosive growth across virtually every industry. Today, it powers nearly a quarter of new sites, and is the CMS of choice for more than two thirds of the top-million sites on the web making it the world’s most popular publishing platform by a long shot…. Read more »