Enabling Eureka via Citeability

The story of Archimedes resonates with everyone, because we all regularly feel that rush of excitement that he famously felt when discovering the principle of water displacement: “Eureka!” he shouted, “I have found it!”

Whether it’s car keys or the perfect birthday present for a loved one, we know that feeling. But how often do you feel like shouting “Eureka” when you’re surfing the web looking for a particular piece of government information?

More often than not, trying to find particular pieces of government data is a hellish experience – even when the data already exists somewhere online!  Too often, government data “moves around” and has no permanence.

The Problem: Government websites are ever changing and cannot be cited. Content changes without notice or accountability.

The Solution: The Citeability Codeathon in Washington DC, April 9-10, 2010, aimed at making government information accessible, reliable, and transparent with advanced permalinks.

I’m going to be there, kicking off this exciting two-day Codeathon event tomorrow evening, which Microsoft is co-sponsoring with the League of Technical Voters, and supporters at the Sunlight Foundation, Archive.org, and Apture.

The Codeathon is being hosted at the Microsoft Chevy Chase office, and all the necessary logistics and details are at www.Citeability.org

Citeability’s czarina is the widely-renowned LTV founder Silona Bonewald, who wrote about the event on O’Reilly Radar: “How Citable Public Documents will Change Your Life.”

The focus of the effort is on making government documents more accessible and citable; and so the event is of course open to the public!  There’s already been strong sign-up activity from the open source, non-Microsoft developer community… it’s going to be interesting to see if we get equally robust attendance by Microsoft-platform developers.  To be honest, this is a non-denominational effort, or rather a fully inclusive effort, as befitting the universal importance of interoperability, government transparency, and openness. 

What are permalinks, and why are they important? Permalinks are human-readable URLs with timestamps, document ID, and an anchor to the specific section/paragraph allowing granular access:

How’s the work being done? Among the platforms and languages being used in Citeability projects are PHP, Python, Ruby-on-Rails, Drupal, ASP.NET, HTTP/REST, JavaScript, micro formats; Windows Azure cloud-enabled work, including open-source software (OSS) running on Azure, such as PHP projects; and even SharePoint 2010/2007 projects, given its popularity in government-enterprise IT shops.  For Microsoft, supporting OSS development on and around our platforms is just a continuation of the work we’ve been doing with the Windows Azure cloud platform and also the www.codeplex.com community.

The Citeability movement’s coders have already been hacking away at relevant projects prior to the Codeathon per se, and will demo those projects at the event itself in the final special showcase event on Sunday April 11, 4pm – 6pm.  If you’re not a coder but a consumer, a user, or a government IT leader and want to see the cutting edge of enabling technology for your work, come to the Sunday showcase. There’ll be catered dim-sum!

More importantly, you’ll see a slice of the future created by volunteers, impressively creating the actual underpinnings of Open Government and Transparency – to ensure those don’t become “yesterday’s buzzwords.”

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7 Responses

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by lewisshepherd: just wrote “Enabling Eureka: about @Citeability Codeathon: http://bit.ly/cwKCUW, all about #govdata #opengov #opendata #transparency #dimsum…


  2. […] articles on the importance of citability and the upcoming codeathon in DC sponsored by Microsoft!! Enabling Eureka via Citeability by Lewis Shepherd, Microsoft Corporation Stop Fishing and Start Feasting: How Citable Public […]


  3. Lewis, thanks for the fantastic context on this event. What a great activity! This will, I’m sure, make a positive difference.


  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dr. Mark Drapeau, Adriel Hampton, Lewis Shepherd, Lewis Shepherd, steve ressler and others. steve ressler said: RT @cheeky_geeky: Do you know about tomorrow's Citeability Codeathon? Nice post by @lewisshepherd – http://is.gd/bkx5d #gov20 #opengov […]


  5. […] Enabling Eureka via Citeability […]


  6. […] articles on the importance of citability and the upcoming codeathon in DC sponsored by Microsoft!! Enabling Eureka via Citeability by Lewis Shepherd, Microsoft Corporation Stop Fishing and Start Feasting: How Citable Public […]


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