Effective advocacy for public technology


How can we most effectively advocate for public technology? There’s a great opportunity to build on the realization that while nonpartisan, civic tech can never being apolitical if we aim to transform how government operates.

California has a particular opportunity given the wealth of tech talent and the growing political momentum here for public technology with the likely next Governor. The prospect of a California Digital Service and other public technology initiatives in the state would benefit from organizing the grassroots civic tech energies like Code for America Brigades.

Some of that has already been happening organically. I personally am a big fan of the energies behind https://policyclub.io/ and think we need more of that. A few of us have been working on a set for principles on opening up California government that aim to help accelerate this movement in California: https://github.com/argo-marketplace/future_of_california

Those aspire to work in the tradition of the incredible Ahwanee principles which started the new urbanism movement several decades ago. One dream would be to have a roundtable with Code for America bridage leadership and other key public technology players at the (what was the Ahwanee) Majestic Yosemite Hotel.

Ideally we’d have a (small) staffed advocacy nonprofit to coordinate grassroots activities and help keep up the momentum to better resource civic tech in California. Cities are fundamentally creatures of state government and given the circus at the national level, California both can and should lead in this area. At least that’s my two cents.

Curious what others think and how we can work together to address the big challenges facing America. Great opportunity and need for civic tech to come together! I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes on public technology.

Citizens of the 21st century need public technologists like citizens of the 19th century needed municipal engineers to build the drains and clean water supplies. – Tom Steinberg

It’s humbling to reflect that even with all the heroic work that’s occurred over the past decade in civic tech, we still have yet to build digital infrastructure with the reach and impact commensurate to ubiquitous access to clean water. I for one firmly believe we can.


Implementing CA Public Technology Principles -- Alpha Workshop Template