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What If We're All the CTO?

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By Anne Laurent November 17, 2008

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It might just be that the name of the new CTO is less important than we think.

A key message of the Obama campaign and soon-to-be presidency is that government shouldn't be about individuals, it should be about all of us. And if Obama's campaign was about anything, it was about enabling many people to participate via information technology. Take his Web site, for example. Never has it been so easy to work for and donate to a political campaign, no matter who you are. And never has a campaign so quickly converted visitors to supporters. These folks are all about involvement.

So here's a hunch: Under Obama, the Web/social networking team will be more important than the federal CTO. And making heretofore hidden and inscrutable tons of federal data available to and usable by everyone will be more important than the CTO's policy pronouncements. Why data? Because it reveals what is happening in the real world most programs are designed to affect, and because understanding it and applying it and combining it can reveal patterns and trends and deliver insights about the way government is working and ways it can work better.

For a set of small examples of how opening government data to citizens can produce better services look here.

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