Code for America Summit recap

The Code for America Summit is always a special occasion for me. It’s not only a time to meet with great hackers and thinkers in the civic technology community, but as 2011 fellow, it’s wonderful to reconnect with the CfA family. This was my third Summit, and it did not disappoint. Here are my highlights.

Clay Shirky Shoutout

Author Clay Shirky opened the Summit with an excellent keynote emphasizing that the most important resource we have is the ability to change our minds — that it’s okay to make a mistake as long as we allow ourselves to learn from the experience. He gave a great description of the various degrees of problems we address within civic technology, and mentioned OpenPlans’ bike share map (at 13:10) as an example of software that builds a bridge between government and citizens.

Urban Planners Represent

There was great representation from urban planners and placemakers at this year’s Summit. StreetMix, an early hackathon project by the fellows, has evolved into an amazing tool for experimenting with street design. The unconference on day 3 of the summit also featured some thought-provoking sessions on the intersection of planning and technology.

Old Tech for New Engagement

The South Bend fellow team gave a very moving presentation about how they are using one of the most ubiquitous technologies available, voice telephony, to engage with the public on how to address abandoned properties. CityVoice is a brilliant example of technology scaling engagement to a much wider audience, yet remains wonderfully human.

Another Perspective
Last year, I gave an admittedly sappy Ignite presentation on how Mjumbe and I arrived at OpenPlans after Code for America. Much to my delight, Mjumbe stole the show (and my slide deck) when he did his own version of the story using my exact slides. Alas, there is no recording to share. Another reason that the Code for America Ignites are not to be missed!