Talk:Oregon Government 2.0 bill

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Innovation: What's this mean in the legislation?

Discussion moved from the main page (permalink). — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 03:01, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Sounds like another good rationale for the above components, but i have no clue from it what if anything this means in the legislation. This unsigned comment was left by 71.236.143.88 at 21:04 on November 23, 2008.
Yes, this one is a bit vague. It's partly overarching, and partly refers to the more specific idea of wanting agencies to publish the data behind their studies so other groups can use it. However, there are areas where that might violate individual privacy concerns, or have other issues -- so we'll need to do some research in this area. Kristin is working on this. (Also -- we might want to have side-discussions like this on the talk page, so that the main page is less confusing to newcomers? Not sure of the best approach here.) -Pete Forsyth 17:45, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Whitsett is on board!

Sen. Doug Whitsett (R–Klamath Falls):

Patrick,

I would expect to support such a bill as I have always been a strong advocate for more transparency and more meaningful public participation in Oregon government.I will be most interested to see the bill as drafted.
Best rgards,

Doug

I expect an email from Rep. Bill Garrard (R–K Falls) soon as well. I guess we got that very valuable bipartisan support now. :) Athelwulf 13:22, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

Garrard will "keep it in mind"

That response from Rep. Garrard that I was expecting:

Dear Patrick,
I received your message urging me to support a bill that will
make the Oregon government more transparent. Thank you for taking the
time to voice your concerns. I will keep your suggestions in mind as I
work with my fellow legislators during this legislative session.
I welcome the opportunity to serve you in any way, whether it is
through the legislative process or through personal assistance with the
state government. I hope you will always feel free to call on me.
Sincerely,
Bill Garrard
State Representative, House District 56

It doesn't really say much. But at least he doesn't seem to be opposed. So we have Ben Cannon, Jefferson Smith, Doug Whitsett, and I assume others supporting the idea, and one "maybe" from Bill Garrard. By the way, do we yet have a master list of legislators we know to be supporters? Athelwulf 18:55, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

This is great, thanks for sending those out! Larry George and Matt Wingard are strongly supportive, at least, of certain aspects, so there's some more of that bipartisan goodness.
If we were to put together a meeting in Portland or Salem, would you be interested in participating by, say, speakerphone, Skype, and/or wiki/IM? -Pete Forsyth 02:27, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
I would like to participate, yes. As for mode, I'm not sure. Well, Skype is out for me. I have it, but I also have dial-up. I think and communicate a lot clearer in writing since I have more time to think, and also since I'm shy in some respects and writing is less personal, but then that's obviously a drawback as well. Are we talking more than just the WikiWednesday meetings? When might these happen?
And by the way, is our bill being drafted somewhere hidden from my immediate view, or is that the job of the legislative council? I have the gut feeling I'm out of some loop. Athelwulf 15:27, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

Another possible obstacle?

Many politicians (and people in general) are wary of wikis due to the "anyone can edit" model. Some might see our examples of the Oregon constitution or other legal code in wiki form as dangerous; anyone could edit them and (intentionally or unintentionally) misinform the public. That's a reason for keeping such material only on trusted official government websites and protected from outside reproduction. I think if this issue ever comes up, we'd need to be prepared to either describe how on wikis there are fact-checking and vandal-fighting systems in place, show by precedent that the problem basically never manifests itself when it comes to this subject matter, or show that the benefits outweigh the potential for misrepresentation.

What do you think? -Kotra 06:50, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Good ideas, Kotra. That's definitely something we'll have to have a counter argument for. I can't immediately think of anything right now. Any ideas? Athelwulf 03:27, 12 March 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for your input. I think we should either not use wikis as an example, or use one of the arguments I described above. Here are my thoughts on each of them:
  1. Wiks usually have fact-checking and vandalism-fighting procedures in place to combat inaccuracies. This may not be a convincing argument, because most people are more aware of the sensationalist media stories about vandalism on Wikipedia than the (usually) immediate reversion of such vandalism (so they'd think "you say you have systems in place, but they obviously aren't working"). In order for this argument to work, one might have to get past this misunderstanding first, which may not be practical when talking to legislators, who have limited time.
  2. Show that vandalism and misinformation rarely occurs when duplicating government information. (examples of Wikisource, Jurispedia perhaps; Wikisource's most vandalized legal document has only very infrequent, quickly reverted vandalism)
  3. Show that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. I think this is the best argument. The benefits of bringing transparency and knowledge of the laws and structure of government to the public who pays for it far outweigh the minor drawbacks of rare misrepresentation which may result. And if a venue earns a reputation for occasional unreliability (like Wikipedia, perhaps), people may easily go to another venue that has stricter controls (a university-owned resource, perhaps, or a resource owned by a non-partisan civics charity).
This whole issue may never come up, though. It's just something to consider. -kotra 20:32, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
It's better to be prepared for when the issue does come up, than not to be.
  1. About this point, it probably should be explained that most of the safeguards Wikipedia and other Wikimedia wikis have in place combat vandalism after the fact. Short of locking an article, it's impossible to actually stop vandalism. It has to be taken care of only after it happens so that its harmful effects don't manifest. And that's what these safeguards do. The statement, "You have systems, but they aren't working", would indicate a mistaken belief that the systems stop vandalism from happening in the first place, which is not the case.
  2. True, people watch articles, and when vandalism occurs, someone sees it and reverts it, usually right away. But to be a devil's advocate on this point, the US Constitution is a highly visible document. I doubt very many people are watching, for example, the Oregon Constitution. Safeguards against vandalism only work if the vandal is caught, and they are more likely not to get caught when vandalizing a low-profile article. In this situation, vandalism is more harmful than usual.
  3. The drawback of people being able to alter the reproduction of the laws could be addressed with the requirement that any reproduction be accompanied with a disclaimer. I think that requirement exists, so this isn't a big problem.
Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 22:25, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
I basically agree with all of this.
  1. Most of the safeguards combat vandalism after the fact, but some are preventative. Our greatly anticipated CAPTCHA is an example, as well as page protection and, in some wikis, flagged revisions. Even blocking vandals is preventative, because it's done to prevent further vandalism. But I agree that most of these remedies usually have to occur after vandalism has happened. And none of these remedies stop all vandalism before it happens, so your devil's advocate argument is certainly worth considering. I suppose it could be compared to law enforcement. Generally, police only react to crimes, and don't directly prevent them (punishment can help prevent crime, but it certainly doesn't stop it). Similarly, we wiki editors "police" our neighborhoods for "crimes" and deal with them after the fact. Yet, despite not all crimes being prevented in either case, society basically works; and so do wikis.
  2. Yes, this is a problem. Subtle vandalism in obscure articles is very difficult to combat without a team of editors monitoring all recent changes. In some wikis, there is such a team, but in most, there isn't. Instead, we rely on the open model encouraging people to fix vandalism when they see it. If a person went to the Oregon Constitution article, and saw "kotra is gay" in it, they could easily identify it and fix it. More subtle vandalism, that's hard to detect, is a concern, but even that can be identified if people periodically examine each others' contributions, noticing a pattern of edits, or just insist on all factual changes be attributed to a reliable source. Anyway, I feel that probably accurate information is better than no information. After all, in everyday life, most of the information we base our views on is only probably accurate (friends, the media, personal observation; none are completely reliable).
  3. Disclaimers would certainly be necessary. Another practice that would be helpful is a direct link to the government website's version, or detailed information about how to verify the information is true. Verification is key, and I think most wikis understand that. -kotra 02:13, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

Patrick's thoughts

HB 3091 was introduced very recently by Rep. Ben Cannon. Read the PDF or HTML version. The bill seems to address just the copyright issue, which is probably a good thing. I'm iffy on the concept of "omnibus" bills anyway. One issue should be tackled at a time.

The bill is a step in the right direction, but I think it's too small a step. Anyone, please tell me if I'm way off in my assessment. Firstly, it amends only a few ORS laws. Only two statutes listed under "patents and copyrights" in the ORS index (see here) are even touched by this bill. Good changes are made, but important laws, like the one allowing the office of secretary of state to copyright the Oregon Blue Book, are left alone. Secondly, and more importantly, the bill relinquishes the state's copyright authority "except as otherwise provided by law" (see page 1, line 10). This essentially means, in my judgment, that any statute that remains unamended, remains unaffected, and the state can decide to enact any new laws that bypass this bill. In my opinion, this neuters the bill.

Here are my personal thoughts on how HB 3091 ought to address copyright instead (open to input, of course):

  • Ideally, the bill should look like 17 U.S.C. § 105. This law is concise, clear, and complete.
  • It should apply equally to all governments subordinate to the state: counties and cities. Transparency is a standard all levels of government should adhere to.
  • It should be retroactive. The state government and all subordinate governments should lose their copyright on all their existing works, placing them in the public domain.

If the bill were to look like the federal law, which provisions should be amended, if any, to adapt it to our goal? For example, the US government is not forbidden from having copyright transfered or assigned to it. Should the state be allowed to have copyright assigned to it? Also, if a US government contract or grant permits it, private contractors and grantees can secure copyright in works paid for in whole or in part with government funds. HB 3091 appears to allow this too, if I read it right: Only the state government would be forbidden from claiming copyright in such a case. There is debate around this idea. Should we take a closer look at it?

We should formulate all our ideas and arguments, and then learn to express them clearly and concisely for curious legislators and for anyone else. This would involve writing our own "stump speeches". It would also involve thinking of potential arguments against our ideas (like the one Kotra mentioned above), and coming up with rebuttals. Someone has offered their Flash expertise as a mode of advocacy, and I like this idea. This would challenge us to articulate what we want to say in six minutes or less. And speaking of the Flash idea, we're behind schedule, and we don't even have a script. If we want this done by April, we gotta get on this fast!

What would really help us is to know who in the legislature supports our idea, who doesn't, and who could be swayed. We need to have a list (like this one) and keep it up to date. A few months ago, I consulted my senator and representative, and I plan on doing so again when they hold their town hall meeting later this month. Sen. Doug Whitsett said he would support a bill similar to HB 3091 if it appeared in the Senate, and Rep. Bill Garrard might be persuaded. I might have an opportunity to consult Rep. George Gilman at this meeting too. Rep. Cannon is the bill's sponsor, so of course he supports it. Rep. Jefferson Smith is sympathetic too. But where does everyone else stand? This is critical info. We should talk to other state officials too. The secretary of state's thoughts would be good to know, and of course the governor's, since he's gonna sign the bill.

Finally, I've observed a problem with our effort. It seems prone to stalling, and the flow of information is lagging. This is no one's fault, really. I think it's because we don't have very many active participants in this "campaign" of ours, so the few active ones have to pick up the slack. Also, we don't seem to have a solid game plan; rather, we're just winging it. We're not an organized force. We're struggling against inertia. Once we get moving, inertia will be on our side, but we need a way to get moving. I think some kind of structure would help greatly. We need to organize. Any thoughts on this? — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 09:10, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

I'm afraid I can't comment on the legislative details, and what should or should not go in the bill (I have no knowledge whatsoever as to what legislators would be willing to pass), but what you suggest all sounds good to me.
Concerning the script, I'd be willing to help with it, except I don't know what specific points are intended to be conveyed.
I'm not sure if a Flash video is necessarily the right medium; a powerpoint presentation seems more conventional. So if a powerpoint is quicker/easier to do, it may be better to pursue that. But I don't want to derail any momentum if we are already set on pursuing the Flash video.
I think we have several people who aren't active because they haven't been personally asked to do anything. We all are just taking the initiative, which doesn't work so well (as evidenced by my really late response to this, sorry). I think someone should start sending emails out to those who have signed up, listing a set of open tasks and asking them personally if they would tackle one. -kotra 06:22, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
Figuring out exactly what we want to say in our scripts, as well as our "stump speeches", is one of the first tasks we should tackle. And a PowerPoint presentation would indeed be easier to make than a Flash video. It requires no specialist skills. We could make it ourselves. So that's one pro. One con is it would have to be downloaded and viewed with PowerPoint, which some might not be willing, or able, to do. Flash videos, on the other hand, can just be opened in your browser window, and I think it's widely supported.
One idea I have to try to get things in general rolling is to figure out who everyone's legislators are. That way we know who we can personally target in the legislature, and where we need to recruit people to the "campaign". I'll start a table. Be sure to add yourself to that table.
Thanks for the input. — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 06:01, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Added self to table. About Flash, I should mention that I myself am a Flash developer and animator, so I could certainly take over the animation if the other person is unavailable. However, it would take a lot longer than a Powerpoint to build. You're right that Powerpoint requires certain software to display, but I think most machines in a professional/legal setting would have it. If not, it could be converted into a PDF, which is pretty universally supported, though that wouldn't display slide-by-slide like a Powerpoint would. Flash could have the benefit of being more "entertaining", or at least interesting to look at, and an audio voiceover explaining as the video progresses; I don't think this is possible with Powerpoint, so someone would have to be presenting it in person.
In any case, I'm willing to come up with a basic draft script if someone gives me the points we want to convey. Once the basic draft is ready, you more knowledgeable folks can flesh it out with specific prose. -kotra 18:58, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Flash's audio capabilities make it, in my opinion, a far superior medium compared to PowerPoint if we're talking about putting it on some website where we expect to educate readers and persuade them to support our efforts. Plus, I'm thinking that even if the PowerPoint were saved as PDF, the reader still has to flip through the slides, and this may be more work than they think is worth it. We don't want to have the reader put out too much effort to find out what we're all about. That said, a PowerPoint presentation would be useful to have if, for example, we have a public forum, or we testify at the capitol, or whatever.
I'm wondering if we could get a team together to work on these larger projects, like this script. Kotra, you and I are pretty involved these days, but others are MIA, which isn't good. Pete has an excuse, I think he's on a trip, and he will probably become active again once he comes home. Have the WikiWednesday folks considered getting involved? And how about PolicyInMotion? — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 06:03, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
Got it; I didn't know whether it was to be distributed online or presented in public, or whatever. It sounds like it's intended to be shown on a website or at least distributed online, so I agree, Flash makes more sense.
There were only a few people at the last WikiWednesday, and I don't know if any of them beside Pete and me have heard of it or would be interested. As for PolicyInMotion, this is the first time I'd heard of it, but in checking out their website/blog, it does seem like a promising group of people, albeit quiet/sparely active.
Concerning the script, I'm ready to write up a basic draft as soon as I know what specific points we want to get across. I suppose I can try adapting the (very) basic ideas I know about the bill into something we can start a script from. I'm thinking a three-part video, divided into Problem-Solution-Action. I'll need help with each of these parts, particularly Action (what do we want the audience to do?). (I hope all that was coherent, I should have gone to bed 2 hours ago) -kotra 08:29, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
Oh, also: I think Pete has a list of email addresses of people who want to help out with this (well, at least I'm on that list), and there are the people here. Since they've actually expressed an interest in helping, all it may take is a reminder or a friendly point to where the action is. -kotra 08:33, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, the script. I like your three-part idea. It probably should still be a single video, but there's nothing wrong with outlining it so the viewer sees, "Part 1: The Problem", etc. Let's tackle the Part 1 first. Some points can be gleaned from various places. The example letters listed at this WP:ORE page are pretty good resources. Of course, the letters are wikicentric, and it's good to touch on the relevance of wikis to this problem. But the issue of government copyright is broader than this. The basic idea that the public should own what the public funds should be mentioned. For the juicy details of the problem, the relevant laws listed here can be touched on.
How's this for a start? — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 22:29, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
Good! I've created a page for the script: Oregon Government 2.0 video script. I'll start building content there, and we can collaborate on its talk page from now on. -kotra 00:45, 29 March 2009 (UTC)
Wonderful! I like the visuals in the intro. You should post a thread on our new mailing list letting people know about this collaboration. — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 05:01, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Seeing Garrard, Gilman, and Whitsett this Saturday

Rep. Bill Garrard (R–K Falls), Rep. George Gilman (R–Medford), and Sen. Doug Whitsett (R–K Falls) will be hosting a local town hall meeting this Saturday, and I plan on going. I will talk to them about HB 3091. It has been referred to the House Rules Committee, which luckily Rep. Garrard is a member of, so I will focus on him. Is there anything on anyone's mind I should specifically remember to touch on? — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 03:03, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Well, I came back from that town hall meeting. I gave each of them a packet with a full printout of HB 3091, a copy of the "patents and copyrights" section of the index to the ORS, and a copy of 17 U.S.C. § 105. Garrard seemed very supportive of this idea, which is very promising. I will promptly email each of them as a follow-up, with some focus on Garrard since he's a key legislator from my perspective. The committees in the Oregon legislative process have the sole power to amend bills, so I will suggest to Garrard the amendments that I think will make this bill better. I explained in the section above what my thoughts are. If anyone has input, I'd love to hear it. — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 21:00, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for all your hard work! Much respect. -kotra 06:06, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

We must organize

In my opinion, our effort is chaotic. Various people are picking up odd jobs, and the general goal is in everyone's mind. But people aren't coming together to work as a cohesive force. This is a very big problem. I feel like we're stagnating, and it would be hard to finish major tasks. I've mentioned this problem before. Now, I think we can succeed in getting our bill out of the House Rules Committee during this session, passed by the legislature, and signed by Kulongoski. I have a good feeling about it. But if we want to succeed, we must solve this problem.

I think the solution is to organize and become a full-fledged taskforce. I'm talking a group with a president, secretary, treasurer, and so on. Basically, we need one or two people who can lead, preside, delegate, whatever; and we need others who can commit to picking up common, essential tasks.

Does everyone approve of the concept? If we can reach agreement, then we can hammer out the details. — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 07:36, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Yes, that sounds good to me (though I don't think a treasurer is necessary since I don't think we'll be spending money on anything). I'm not able to lead in this, but I'm certainly willing to do some work. However, the "everyone" here is basically just you and me at the moment. -kotra 23:44, 28 March 2009 (UTC)
Ain't that the truth!
You're right, a person dedicated to the task of handling money is very likely unnecessary. After all, the bare-bones model is to have someone to preside and delegate, someone else who can do the same if needed, and someone to do the bookkeeping. If for some strange reason we do have to deal with money, that counts as "bookkeeping", I think.
Anyway, I'm of the mindset that if we come together and act as some kind of organization, we will develop a working pace, and it will be easier to know where we are at all times. There's something to be said of meeting at regular intervals, discussing what we've done so far, brainstorming what to do next, and then delegating all the necessary tasks. With our current "membership", that would be very tough to pull off, but if we can get at least a dozen people, I think we should definitely go down this path. So perhaps the first thing we should worry about — as a side issue, of course — is recruitment. — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 04:56, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

New Google group

Oregon Transparency Taskforce

I think this would help us with our disorganization problem. This gives us a main forum to discuss any issues. And instead of having to check back periodically for developments, we get all discussions in our email inbox. This keeps us up-to-date on our progress in real time, and it also reminds us to keep involved. Please join. — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 02:03, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Good idea. I've sent off an email to the Portland Wiki Wednesday mailing list announcing it. -kotra 23:58, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

Text of HB 3091

Is the text of HB 3091 on the wiki here somewhere? It would be useful so we can keep our wording consistent. -kotra 00:06, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

I linked to the bill in one of the above sections on this talk page. I'll link it again. There's a PDF version and an HTML version. — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 04:07, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Name of legislation

I'm a bit confused as to what name we're using for this legislation. It seems like we have been using three names:

  1. Oregon transparency bill
  2. Oregon Government 2.0
  3. HB 3091

The first seems a bit too generalized (I hate when bills are given vague, positive-sounding names). The second is even more generalized, and connotes Web 2.0; but while public domain is certainly a boon to collaboration and in the public interest, it's sort of a stretch I think. The third is just the name of the bill in the House, so is meaningless to the public.

I'm sorry to bring this up at such a late stage, but I think it should be addressed before we finalize the script (for the Flash). Have those of you who have been speaking with legislators used any particular name? If not, can we call the bill something like "Public Use of Publicly-Funded Works Act"? Boring, I know, but people will know what it means. -kotra 00:36, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Don't be sorry. It does seem kinda confusing now that you mention it, and we don't want to confuse people. No particular name has yet developed for this bill. I've been saying "Oregon Government 2.0" to refer to the team effort to get HB 3091 passed, and "HB 3091" to refer to the bill itself.
I agree with you that "Oregon transparency bill" is too general and vague, and I know what you mean about abstract, feel-good bill names. Using the bill number is unhelpful too, and it should be reserved for contexts where shorthand is feasible. I also agree with you that the Web 2.0 reference is too broad to refer to this bill specifically. The mission, as the main article page implies to me, is to generally promote government transparency and accessibility, apparently with a focus on the Internet. This is where I'm guessing the Web 2.0 reference comes in.
A good, clear name for the bill would be great. Sometimes a bill includes a clause that states its own name, but HB 3091 doesn't have that. I see what you're getting at with "Public Use of Publicly-Funded Works Act". That particular example is clear, but it's easy to trip over or forget. How about "the People Own What the People Fund Act", or "We Own What We Fund Act"? It flows, but I dunno if it sufficiently avoids the "vague, positive-sounding names" problem. And it's got an awkward acronym: WOWWF. "Wow double-you eff"?
I think this would be a good discussion for the new Google group. We can get group feedback and consensus. — Athelwulf [T]/[C]\[W] 04:42, 29 March 2009 (UTC)