#OpenGovNI: Why a loose, distributed and eclectic network is vital… [updated with audio and video]

A key irony noted by Tim Hughes of Involve is that conversations about Open Government can very quickly become wonky and technical, and as a consequence begin to close out the ordinary citizen with techno jargon and insider speak. Wednesday’s launch of the Open Government Network Northern Ireland at Malone House in Belfast was moderately successful in broadening their catch beyond ‘the usual suspects’. [Listen back to the speeches and watch the keynotes.] Keynote speaker was Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton admitted there has been a … Read more

Beyond Voting: Can Civil Society Unite Behind an Open Government Agenda?

In the wake of last week’s seminar held by the Building Change Trust, project lead Paul Braithwaite discusses the potential implementation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Northern Ireland. It wouldn’t be controversial to say that there is the perception that open, participative government isn’t being practiced in Northern Ireland. Any number of issues could be raised when discussing this key problem, from delays in Freedom of Information requests to the transparency of political party financing. Such is the … Read more

Open Government Partnership: “Lord, give me open government, but not just yet…”?

There’s been a certain buzz around this Open Government conference (live streaming here), I’ll admit that I didn’t expect to find. There have been tensions. Largely over the gap between intention (to be open) and the disappointing actuality. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, for instance, has been in some steady criticism from the ‘home team’ here in Dublin Castle. For instance, Ireland’s Freedom of information Act was amended under the previous government such that the Republic is only … Read more

“open source is where I think the future is headed in local government…”

So, I’m in Dublin tomorrow for the OGP Europe Regional conference in Dublin in advance of next week’s Digital Lunch asking if Northern Ireland is ready for an open government partnership? If you are interesting in the subject, do keep an eye on Twitter throughout the day, and I’ll update with a blog report on Friday morning before I leave again. Thinking in practical terms regarding Northern Ireland it strikes me that one area which could be wide open for new and innovative engagement … Read more

Is Northern Ireland ready to take on the challenge of collaborative open government?

One modern day illusion is that because we vote for an elected government to be in charge of what the writers of Yes Minister ryely termed ‘the real government’ (the Civil Service), we as citizens also assume they are in control of everything.  Yet government remains essentially an 19th Century institution trying to operate in a dynamic and fast changing 21st Century environment which has seen the emergence of a networked public square, in which demands for transparency and openness become increasingly hard to refuse. Open … Read more

Next #DigitalLunch: Sustaining social innovation?

So, we’re rolling the next SocialInnovation #DigitalLunch for the Building Change Trust through to Thursday. It follows three other lively and insightful panels: – 1, was an initial discussion of what innovating for social change might look like? – 2, was a great conversational case study of a whole range of projects some originating the public purse and others private sector initiated: – 3, focused on locating barriers to social change, with some great international contributions: On Thursday we are … Read more

The limitations of innovation without wider backing?

With our series of discussions on Social Innovation in mind, here’s an excellent piece on why innovation is failing to tackle big problems, Tech Review editor Jason Pontin notes that in fact technology cannot solve everything. He quotes Famine as a Grade A example: Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate economist, has shown that famines are political crises that catastrophically affect food distribution. (Sen was influenced by his own experiences. As a child he witnessed the Bengali famine of 1943: three … Read more

Lessons in Social Innovation and what it actually means…

So after two great online conversations on Social Innovation with the Building Change Trust we’ve had some useful insights into what social innovation might or could look like. In the first session Michael Kelly from Grow It Yourself Ireland (GIY, Ireland) noted that their network had grown to cover the whole island in just three years, partly by pushing decision making out into the network rather than keeping it at the centre. Stuart Bailie drew on Terri Hooley’s upstart impressario … Read more