Open Government Data
Open government data has changed the way we understand civics. This book is about the principles behind that movement — yes, it is a movement — and its development in the United States. Topics include principles of open government data, the history of the movement, applications to transparency and civic engagement, a brief legal history, data quality, APIs, prioritization, civic hacking, case studies, and paradoxes in transparency.
I should note several limitations of this book. First, it is from a distinctly United States perspective both in terms of the history of the movement and in the expectations for government data given by the principles. Second, open government data is only a small part of the broader open government movement which encompasses classic open government (such as the Freedom of Information Act) as well as the newer fields of citizen participation and citizen experience. Finally, a disproportionate number of examples in this book are taken from projects related to transparency for the U.S. Congress. These limitations can all be explained by “write what you know.”
I would like to acknowledge Justin Grimes, John Wonderlich, Jim Harper, Carl Malamud, David Robinson, Harlan Yu, Gunnar Hellekson, Alexander Howard, and Eric Mill for their contributions to my thinking about our field. In addition, I thank the Transparency Camp organizers over the years, where much thought on this crystallized. And I thank my mom for her help editing.
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This is the second edition of the book (2014). The first version was posted in 2012.
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Joshua Tauberer (@JoshData) is an open government advocate, entrepreneur, and software developer. He is the creator of GovTrack.us, which launched in 2004 and spurred the national open government data community.