a little background
Although trained and practiced in communication, marketing, and government affairs I love technology. Much of my experience has been as the cog between the general public and scientists or engineers; explaining the benefits of a piece of technology to the public or explaining the needs or desires of regular people to those developing the “next big thing.”
Here I am again, same cog just a different machine. This time as a member of the local chapter (we call them brigades) of Code for America (CfA), a national nonprofit that believes government can work for the people, by the people, in the 21st century. We use data and develop technology to further local governments priorities of creating healthy, prosperous, and safe communities.
Currently Code for America draws on the power of over 50,000 volunteers working 134 communities primarily in the United States. An important multiplier affect for the impact of CfA is our belief in developing open source solutions. Practically this means that something developed for one city can be redeployed for another, local resources can then be spent on improving and localizing the application rather then developing it from scratch. As you can imagine this improves delivery time and continually improves the code base for everyone.
so why are you doing this?
Right. So I am a an enthusiastic kinesthetic learner and wanted a basic understanding of the underlying process of open source projects. With previous web development experience, my first stop was to create this simple site into which I could practice and grow. Along the way I would also share what I has helped me and how I use many of the same tools that my coding friends use.
hey this is cool
Once I opened the door to learning open source I found much more then code was being created and managed this way. Projects, companies, and even governments are becoming open source and utilizing agile processes for operating and governing.
Back to my CfA brigade, Friendly Code, while we meet twice a month we are very much a virtual organization. To make significant progress on projects work often happens between the meetings. Also, some members are unable to make meetings but want to contribute. An open process for making contributions is perfect for our work and our organization. An open process also has the added bonus of being easier to share projects with other CfA brigades around the country.
Over the past six months we have begun utilizing Slack as our open communication tool. While Github is being used for code repositories, it is also being used for documentation (via github’s wiki) and light project management through the use of Waffle.io.
- Government best practices: A collaborative community for sharing best practices for using GitHub in government.
- Code for America
- The Open Organization: Red Hat
- 18f: A civic consultancy for the government, inside the government, enabling agencies to rapidly deploy tools and services that are easy to operate, cost efficient, and reusable.