Next Generation Open Government Project
The emergence of the Semantic Web offers the potential to revolutionize the economics of disclosing and accessing government information. This, in turn, offers the prospect of automating much of the work that investigative journalists and bloggers must currently do manually.
A variety of ontologies must be developed and implemented for this revolution to occur. These can be divided into core ontologies and domain-specific ontologies. Core ontologies are shared widely across domains.
A core ontology may describe who, when, and where. iSolon.org has focused on a core ontology to uniquely identify who, including individuals and organizations. The difficulty in searching for the same individual or organization (the who) across hundreds or thousands of online databases it calls "the common identifier problem." This problem must be solved before domain specific ontologies can maximize their contribution to democratic accountability.
A domain specific ontology may describe such things as legislative
proceedings, budgets, and conflicts of interest. iSolon.org is
interested in all three of these domain specific ontologies but has been
especially focused on conflicts of interest because it is the least
developed of these three domain specific areas and fits closely with
iSolon.org's larger concerns with conflicts of interest in the design of
Praise for iSolon.org's
Snider's The Dismal Politics of Legislative Transparency offers a
cogent explication of the inherent conflict between legislators and
legislative data, dismantling the mechanisms of legislative information to
expose the conflicting incentives often at their core. This argument has
assisted me in advocating for bulk access to legislative data, illuminating
the need for access to legislators' roll call votes, as well as the widespread
failings of legislatures to make this information available.”
--- John Wonderlich,
--- John Wonderlich,
(for more praise,
Please note that there is substantial overlap between this project and iSolon.org's Next Generation Checks & Balances Project and Next Generation K12 Democratic Accountability Project.
Snider, J.H., Government-wide Information Sharing for Democratic Accountability, Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, December 8, 2011.
Snider, J.H., "The Institutional and Technological Foundations of Open Government," presentation at Harvard University's Edmond J. Safra Center, September 24, 2011.
[Unique Identifiers Ontology] J.H. Snider, Connecting the Dots for Democratic Accountability: Semantic Web-Based Information Sharing Policy and the Future of Investigative Reporting, working paper released at iSolon.org event with the same name, October 22, 2010, Washington, DC. The accompanying Powerpoint presentation is here.
[Conflict-of-Interest Ontology] Federal Trade Commission, Federal Trade Commission Staff Discussion Draft: Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism, May 24, 2010, Washington, DC.
[Government Budgets Ontology] J.H. Snider, Democratize School Budget Data, Education Week, May 20, 2009.
[Conflict-of-Interest Ontology] J.H. Snider, Automating-Conflict-of-Interest Reporting, presentation at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Workshop on How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?, March 10, 2010, Washington, DC.
[Conflict-of-Interest Ontology] J.H. Snider, Automating-Conflict-of-Interest Reporting, working paper released at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Workshop on How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?, March 10, 2010, Washington, DC.
[Conflict-of-Interest Ontology] J.H. Snider, Automating Watchdog Reporting, Nieman Watchdog, July 22, 2009.
[Would You Ask Turkeys to Mandate Thanksgiving? The Dismal Politics of Legislative Transparency, Journal of Information Technology & Democracy, Spring 2009. This is based on a working paper written for the Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.J.H. Snider,
Open Government Legislative and Agency Testimony
Testimony of J.H. Snider on Senate Bill 644: Joint Committee on Transparency and Open Government Act, before the Before the Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs, Maryland Senate, March 15, 2011, Annapolis, Maryland.
Testimony of J.H. Snider on Senate Bill 740: Public Records Act, before the Before the Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs, Maryland Senate, March 15, 2011, Annapolis, Maryland.
Written Comments of J.H. Snider on House Bill 48: Open Meetings Act, before the Before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, Maryland House of Delegates, February 17, 2011, Annapolis, Maryland.
Testimony of J.H. Snider on House Bill 37: Public Information Act, before the Before the Committee on Health and Government Operations, Maryland House of Delegates, February 1, 2011, Annapolis, Maryland.