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Architecting Information for
an Open Source Citizenry
Rachel Knickmeyer & Greg Swindle
The journey from Bill to Law
The missing pieces
Who writes that first draft?
What happens in
committee?
How do lobbyists and
activists impact things?
Finding our Legislative Personas
Empathy Interviews
Locations Jobs
Boston, MA
Washington DC
Seattle, WA
Rapid City, SD
Former Mayoral Aide
City Alderman
Pr...
The Elected Official
Balancing idealism with
political alliances,
campaigning and funding
The Staffer
Overworked, lacking
technological tools, but
eager to learn and help.
The Lawyer
Deep knowledge of current
law and the legislative
process, an expert at
interpretation.
The Lobbyist
Influencing experts. Paid to
help special interest groups
push their agendas to
elected officials.
The Activist
Passionate with a drive to
change the world for the
better. Usually singularly
focused on an issue.
The Citizen
Wants to be heard by their
representatives and for
those representatives to
deliver on their promises.
Here’s a story
As a bill moves through the
process, transparency &
control both drop resulting in
feelings of disenfranchisement
Let’s look at another journey
A look at Github
A little Github History
Created in 2008 by Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath and PJ Hyett
By 2009 it included over 90,00...
The UX of Github
● Made by developers for developers
● Centered around the code repository
● Encourages collaboration and ...
Open Source Working Model
Component Alignment
Insights04 Insights
Pull Requests03 Revision Proposals
The Code02 The Bill
The Issues01 The Discourse
A short intro to Open Government
“We will work together to ensure the
public trust and establish a system of
transparency, public participation, and
collab...
Important Touchstones
Madison
● Originally created to combat SOPA / PIPA in 2012
● Spearheaded by the OpenGov Foundation
● Anyone can submit doc...
TLDR Legal
● Originally created to make Software Licenses readable to
the normal person
● Primarily geared at Open Source ...
How can we apply what we’ve
learned?
Shoulders of Giants
TLDR Legal Madison GitHub
The IA of a collaborative law
Insights
Visualizing the results
of the text
With insights, the goal will be to
visualize ho...
Building Transparency
Changes once committed to the text are
assigned back to the specific
representative who took the act...
Encouraging Collaboration
Public discourse can be elevated up to
full revisions that undergo public
collaboration where co...
Fostering Understanding
Providing translations of complicated
legal text can help citizens better
understand the true mean...
Providing Insights
Providing smart visualizations based on real
data to forecast how a bill can impact key
metrics of inte...
What’s next?
democracy-ia democracy-ia
Intro to Repo
Special Thanks
Seamus Kraft of OpenGov Our friends at GitHub
And thank you!
References
Video courtesy of Disney Educational Productions, School House Rock.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continu...
Architecting Information For An Open Source Citizenry
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Architecting Information For An Open Source Citizenry

Metaphorically, software and law have fundamental things in common. They’re both specialized, obtuse, and generally inaccessible to the layperson. Both govern our daily lives. And whereas software is compiled or interpreted and executed on specialized digital machines, law is interpreted and executed by specially trained human nervous systems.

Open source software relies on community support of two kinds: contribution and collaboration. The same concept lies at the heart of the Open Government Initiative, which focuses on transparency, participation and accessibility. Despite ongoing progress toward transparency, however, significant opportunities remain for improving how government collaborates with citizens to make the process of crafting legislation more accessible. In this talk, we propose that the problems we see with the current state of collaborative government participation is a problem of UX; and information architecture can provide a bipartisan pathway to solving these problems.

We will cover how GitHub’s success stems from its user experience and understanding of its core users: developers. Jumping off from this, we will discuss the concept of open government; covering some its important milestones; and demonstrate how some of the less successful ventures contained critical user experience shortfalls. Finally, we will present research findings and a conceptual IA that is particular to the crafting of laws and legislation. This talk will be a call to action as well: get ready to get involved!

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Architecting Information For An Open Source Citizenry

  1. 1. Architecting Information for an Open Source Citizenry Rachel Knickmeyer & Greg Swindle
  2. 2. The journey from Bill to Law
  3. 3. The missing pieces Who writes that first draft? What happens in committee? How do lobbyists and activists impact things?
  4. 4. Finding our Legislative Personas
  5. 5. Empathy Interviews Locations Jobs Boston, MA Washington DC Seattle, WA Rapid City, SD Former Mayoral Aide City Alderman Prison Reform Activist Astronomer IT Manager Lawyer Open Gov Official
  6. 6. The Elected Official Balancing idealism with political alliances, campaigning and funding
  7. 7. The Staffer Overworked, lacking technological tools, but eager to learn and help.
  8. 8. The Lawyer Deep knowledge of current law and the legislative process, an expert at interpretation.
  9. 9. The Lobbyist Influencing experts. Paid to help special interest groups push their agendas to elected officials.
  10. 10. The Activist Passionate with a drive to change the world for the better. Usually singularly focused on an issue.
  11. 11. The Citizen Wants to be heard by their representatives and for those representatives to deliver on their promises.
  12. 12. Here’s a story
  13. 13. As a bill moves through the process, transparency & control both drop resulting in feelings of disenfranchisement
  14. 14. Let’s look at another journey
  15. 15. A look at Github
  16. 16. A little Github History Created in 2008 by Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath and PJ Hyett By 2009 it included over 90,000 public repositories and 100,000 users In 2018, it now boasts 57 million repositories, 20 million users, and 100 million pull requests What makes Github so successful?
  17. 17. The UX of Github ● Made by developers for developers ● Centered around the code repository ● Encourages collaboration and documentation ● Enforces code review and code quality ● Flexible and customizable
  18. 18. Open Source Working Model
  19. 19. Component Alignment Insights04 Insights Pull Requests03 Revision Proposals The Code02 The Bill The Issues01 The Discourse
  20. 20. A short intro to Open Government
  21. 21. “We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” - Barack Obama, 2009
  22. 22. Important Touchstones
  23. 23. Madison ● Originally created to combat SOPA / PIPA in 2012 ● Spearheaded by the OpenGov Foundation ● Anyone can submit documents for feedback ● Primary use case is to gather public commentary and feedback ● No co-authoring functionality ● Limited usage
  24. 24. TLDR Legal ● Originally created to make Software Licenses readable to the normal person ● Primarily geared at Open Source developers to help them create documentation ● Crowdsourced legal explanations
  25. 25. How can we apply what we’ve learned?
  26. 26. Shoulders of Giants TLDR Legal Madison GitHub
  27. 27. The IA of a collaborative law Insights Visualizing the results of the text With insights, the goal will be to visualize how a bill as it is written will actually impact things such as: working budgets, tax rates, employment and citizen sentiment. Revision Proposals Detailed proposed updates to the bill Discourse items can be elevated into proposals, which are a more structured approach to actually changing the bill. The Discourse Public feedback Separate from the bill itself is a more free-form area for citizens, activists, lobbyists etc to comment on the bill. The Bill The actual text of the proposed bill For the sake of transparency this text is paired with TL;DR legal style translations of the legal text.
  28. 28. Building Transparency Changes once committed to the text are assigned back to the specific representative who took the action Discourse items can be tied back to specific areas of the bill and are connected back to the person who submitted the commentary.
  29. 29. Encouraging Collaboration Public discourse can be elevated up to full revisions that undergo public collaboration where conversation is tracked. Everyone from Bill Sponsors, Legal Reviewers and down to Citizen Collaborators can contribute and be given visibility.
  30. 30. Fostering Understanding Providing translations of complicated legal text can help citizens better understand the true meaning of a bill.
  31. 31. Providing Insights Providing smart visualizations based on real data to forecast how a bill can impact key metrics of interest can further build understanding.
  32. 32. What’s next? democracy-ia democracy-ia
  33. 33. Intro to Repo
  34. 34. Special Thanks Seamus Kraft of OpenGov Our friends at GitHub
  35. 35. And thank you!
  36. 36. References Video courtesy of Disney Educational Productions, School House Rock. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=FFroMQlKiag History of GitHub provided by the GitHub Blog https://github.com/blog/2345-celebrating-nine-years-of-github-with-an-anniversary-sale Community Engagement Statistics https://www.census.gov/prod/techdoc/cps/cpsnov11.pdf Madison by Open Gov Foundation https://mymadison.io/pages/about TLDR;Legal https://tldrlegal.com/licenses/browse Open Government Foundation http://www.opengovfoundation.org/ Voicemails to Votes https://v2v.opengovfoundation.org/

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