Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Civil Access

Civil Access is as much a Human Right as Civil Rights are in a Civil Society. Civil Access is our ability to read and write our Civil Information such as our Social Security Number, our Contact Information, as well as the sum total of every detail our Government stores that pertains explicitly to us.

That is Civil Access, and it should be viewed not only as a Right, but as a Reality that you assumed you had all along. That is what makes the Internet Banking Challenge such a wonderful meme, as it illustrates specific limitations in our own government such as the ability to view my tax account.

The best part of the Internet Banking Challenge is that most if not all of it already exists on the web. By that I mean that the debates, decisions, and contact information of our city officials is already available on the Internet. Opening the doors between this information and the public is one of the accomplishments of the Great Ralph Nader.

As for my own accomplishments, I plan to squat on until I find the time to illustrate the framework for a Civic Access Portal. I see this not only as the first step in achieving a truly Open Government, but more importantly, a realistic step into our current form of Government. (Note the US on the back of the domain name. And please feel free to contact or comment to get the thoughts rolling!)

The Internet Banking Challenge

Last night I drove down to see Ralph Nader speak in Cincinnati, Ohio. I had seen most of his motivational speech on the Internet when they webcast live from the RNC, but at the end of the question and answer session I had the opportunity to ask for his thoughts on Open Government. He called himself an Open Candidate. Looking back at his track record with the Freedom of Information Act, etc., I can see his point.

But I think Ralph Nader, a man who is certainly wise beyond his numerous years, missed the point about Open Government -- in much the same way that many of us miss the point about Open Government. What IS Open Government? Answer: A Government founded on the principles of Open Source software development. WTF does that mean? You want us to use Open Source software? Can do. VOTE FOR RALPH NADER!

My gf and I got home and dumb o'clock in the morning and talked until half past stupid about Open Government. Somehow our ramblings lead me to compare Open Government to Online Banking, as it not only made for a wonderful example of the online access, but connected to places in the real world through public centers, telephones, and snail mail. In short, it was something people were familiar with.

So here's a challenge to anyone with an Internet bank account: DO NOT ACCESS your online account for FOUR YEARS. Furthermore, do not enter a banking institution more than ONE PER YEAR. And finally, NO ATMS. If you've got an emergency? USE THE PHONE.

That should give you a glimpse into your level of Civil Access.