Reframing civic hacking

I’m moderating a panel titled Civic Hacking for Self Governance at this summer’s Allied Media Conference .

The idea for this session originally started with Matt Hampel and other members of the 2012 Code for America team working in Detroit.

Matt originally wanted to work on a session bringing together people looking at technological interventions in the civic space that help facilitate government institutions in civic process.  While this is an exciting space, I felt it was important to look at non-technical interventions that still felt like “hacks” as well as interventions, technical and social, that worked as part of governance though perhaps without the sanction of government institutions.

I’m excited about how this framing of “civic hacking” has shaped up and the panel now also includes Joshua Breitbart who works with the Open Technology Initiative at the New America Foundation and is going to talk, if I can do a good job of paraphrasing this, about community self-governance through the lens of mesh wifi networks. Also on the panel will be Maria Hadden of the Participatory Budgeting Project who comes from working on less technical interventions that still feel like they incorporate a lot of the iterative and collaborative elements that are familiar to me in open source technologies.

In trying to come up with a framing that unifies civic interventions that range from technical and non-technical approaches

  • What makes something hacking?
  • What is the different between government and governance?
  • Can we use technical metaphors to describe civic engagement and governance?


I’m going to be writing about these questions on this blog as I prepare for this session at the end of June.