Worcester wins

posted by Mike on January 2nd, 2009

“City Manager Announces City Council Meetings to Go On-Line”:

The City Manager has announced that City Council meetings will now be available on-line, greatly increasing citizen participation and government accountability.

Worcester Indymedia, with help from WCCA TV13, has been archiving these meetings for the past year, at a grand cost of $50.

This is amazing timing by the City, as I’ve done most of the archiving for Indymedia, and the project is set to end when I leave for DC next week.

Carl Malamud’s “Hack 3: Be Government” was a big inspiration:

Sometimes the best way to get government to do something is just do it yourself. That’s a strategy I previously used in posting data from the SEC on the Internet. I ran the database for a couple of years, then put a little sign up saying the service would terminate in 60 days. The SEC got it right away that free markets are based on information and started running the service. I tried the same trick on the Patent Office, but that is a much less clueful bunch when it comes to subversive goals like promoting the dissemination of knowledge, and I had to harass them for a few more years.

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2 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On January 3, 2009 at 11:18 G. W. said:

    Please describe what exactly you mean by “citizen participation” and “government accountability” when council meetings have been available (transcripts) on-line for years?
    Big deal that they’re going to be streamed. It’s already on TV.
    So what does it mean to the average resident? Nothing in fact.
    Am I right or what?

  2. On January 3, 2009 at 18:33 Mike said:

    GW: Those phrases are from the Indymedia article, and I didn’t write them, though I happen to agree with them.

    The mtgs are indeed on cable TV. Now they’ll be available to anyone in the city with broadband, whether or not those folks are also cable subscribers. I don’t think this is a huge deal, but since streaming is easy and cheap and makes the meetings more widely available, seems like a no-brainer.

    The deal-changer here is the online archives of the meeting video. In the past, a citizen could request a recording of an old mtg, wait a few days, and receive a DVD for something like $25.

    When someone can browse the videos for free online, it suddenly becomes reasonable to, for example, skim through what was said about sidewalk cleanup ordinances over the past few years. The Clerk’s meeting notes are helpful, but no kind of replacement for video.

    I’m always running into people who are thankful that Indymedia’s been archiving the videos–I hope the City’s new system will do an even better job for them.

    Thanks for the comment!

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