Tim O’Reilly talks to Code for America about the power of platforms

Today, Tim O’Reilly spoke about the power of platforms to the inaugural class of Code for America fellows.

What’s happening today is an “open data” movement, said O’Reilly. “That’s what’s going to build the next platform.” As he’s said before, he thinks we’re now in an interesting platform stage where “the Internet is the operating system.” As early adopters of the new Google Chrome netbooks, a material metaphor for that notion is now online.

You can listen to the audio of Tim O’Reilly (my publisher) or download the MP3. Video may be available. later. Editor’s Note: O’Reilly Media is a supporter of Code for America and its founder, Tim O’Reilly, sits on its board.

The notion of “government as a platform,” which Tim has been speaking about for years now, is founded in his understanding of how technology companies have historically grown and flourished. Many of the anecdotes and historical underpinning of Gov 2.0 are in the webcast, “What is Gov 2.0?” in the side bar of this blog.

Here are a couple of key points from today:

Lesson 1: Platforms spread when they are ubiquitous and barriers to entry are low
Lesson 2: Create an architecture of participation, like Unix.
Lesson 3: Small pieces, loosely joined, which drove the growth of the World Wide Web.
Lesson 4: Don’t (just) build websites, build Web services.

There’s a lot more in there that builds upon Tim’s platform paradigm for government. Give it a listen and, if you find some other insights that particularly strike you or apply to how you think about how government can leverage the power of platforms, please share it in the comments.

If the notion that data and simplicity can build the government platform sound familiar, it should: Tim talked with the first United States chief technology officer, Aneesh Chopra, about how these ideas apply to government last year:

Building on that, if you have a moment, head on over to the White HouseExpertNet” wiki and share your thoughts on how the federal government should be designing democracy, specifically with respect to creating an open governnemt platform for citizen consultation.

About Alex Howard

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.

1 Response

  1. I have done the Tim O’Reilly, 2010, Open Government, Chapter 1. Government As a Platform Practical Steps for Government Agencies:

    1. Issue your own government directive (done*)
    2. Create a simple, reliable, and publically accessible infrastructure that exposes the underlying data (done).
    3. Build your own websites and applications using item 2 above (done).
    4. Share your data catalogs and repository of applications (done).
    5. Provide work as open source software, standardized web services, cloud computing platform, and best practices (done).
    6. Support existing open standards and open source software (done).
    7. Create a list of software applications that can be reused by government employees without procurement (done).
    8. Create an “app store” that features applications created by the private sector as well as those created by your own government unit (done).
    9. Create permissive social media guidelines that allow government employees to engage the public without having to get pre-approval from superiors (not my role now).
    10. Sponsor meetups, code camps, and other activity sessions to actually put citizens to work on civic issues (done).

    *: http://semanticommunity.info and http://semanticommunity.net

    Please see http://semanticommunity.info/@api/deki/files/8282/=BrandNiemann01112011.ppt

    And I have submitted my Expert Location Pilot and suggestions to ExpertNet.

    Thanks to you and Tim for great advice and leadership!

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