I attended my first GovCamp last Friday. I couldn’t make it to the keynotes (which I heard where great!) but managed to sit through a few of the breakout sessions. For those of you who’ve not heard about GovCamp, it’s place for people to talk about eGovernment initiatives or how governments can use tech to better engage citizens, businesses and other stakeholders. The topics in the breakout sessions mostly revolve around social media and open data.
I’m not going to spare many words on social media here, since it’s been talked to death and is really not the rocket science many people play it up to be. As a long-time blogger and communications person, I think it’s not very different from striking up a conversation with a stranger and slowly cultivating it into a trustworthy friendship.
Open data is more intriguing to me since it’s the first time I’ve heard of it. Open data is the idea that certain data should be freely from the shackles of copyright, patents etc so everyone could use and republish it as he pleases. In this case, many of the speakers were talking about governments’ open data — what should be available, in what format and what can be achieved with it.
It was an eye-opening experience for me, since it’s not crossed my mind that developers have to worry about stuff like data sourcing before they hit the product development, funding and eventually, the commercialization stages. I do PR for a telco, so when I think about app development, all I think about is whether the product has potential to make disruptive or incremental change, whether a viable business model could arise from it, and most importantly, what the impact is on the end-user.
All in all, GovCampSG was a pretty interesting event. I had an opportunity to see things from a different perspective, and I hope something concrete will come out of these discussions. As a non-developer and non-civil servant, I won’t be much use when it comes to turning these talks into action. Nevertheless, for the people who can, I’d like to leave you with an inspirational quote by Scott Anthony:
You cannot find truth through analysis. You can only find truth through action.
For photos and videos from the event, check out GovCampSG on Facebook.