Hacking the Open Government

Emerging Topics, Government
Location: Ballroom A1
Average rating: ****.
(4.50, 2 ratings)

There is currently a renaissance in available data and content from the federal government as well as some state governments. Everyday it seems that some new web site or service makes publicly available over the internet what previously was only accessible on paper or other non-digital format. What does this mean for the hacker, the agitator, the political scientist, and the average internet user? How do we ensure that

  1. the data is in a usable form and
  2. that it is put to good use and
  3. that citizens are continually empowered to raise the bar a little higher?

This panel discussion will survey the open government landscape and focus on providing a recipe for citizens to find and participate in open government initiatives.

The panel is composed of individuals who represent different pieces of the open government technology puzzle from data publisher (Sunlight Labs) to microformats author (Kevin Marks) to data consumer (Geek-PAC, League of Technical Voters) to government enabler (office of the California Secretary of State). In this diverse array of viewpoints, we wish to discover a blueprint and a vision for what “open government” could – and should – come to mean.

Adina Levin


Adina Levin is VP Products and co-founder of Socialtext, a leading provider of Enterprise 2.0 software. As a private citizen, she has led or co-organized with a range of civic activities ranging from state level digital rights advocacy in Texas, to organizing Bay Area TransitCamp, an unconference on the use of open data and social media to improving public transit, to leading the Drive Less Challenge, a contest to reduce driving alone.

Photo of Debra Bowen

Debra Bowen

State of California

A pioneer in open government reform, election integrity, and personal privacy rights, Debra Bowen became only the sixth woman in California history elected to a statewide constitutional office when she was elected as Secretary of State in November 2006.

As the chief elections officer for the largest state in the nation, Secretary Bowen is responsible for overseeing state and federal elections, a role that also requires her to test and certify the voting equipment used in California. Her goal is to ensure that voting machines certified for use in Californians elections are secure, accurate, reliable, and accessible, and every voter’s ballot is counted exactly as it was cast. In her first year in office, Secretary Bowen commissioned an independent, top-to-bottom review of voting technology, as well as a comprehensive review of the state’s decades-old election auditing standards. Following the top-to-bottom review, Bowen strictly limited the use of direct recording electronic voting machines, and imposed significant security and auditing requirements on systems used in California elections. Secretary Bowen was recognized for her national leadership in election integrity with the 2008 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage AwardTM, the nation’s most prestigious honor for elected public servants who choose principles over partisanship.

Secretary Bowen is also responsible for helping to carry out election laws and campaign disclosure requirements by maintaining a statewide database of registered voters, certifying the official lists of candidates for each election, tracking and certifying ballot initiatives, compiling election returns, and certifying the election results for all state and federal contests.

Photo of Silona Bonewald

Silona Bonewald


Silona is currently focused on creating the League of Technical Voters. Before this she started her own company, ElecTech that created specialized software for political campaigns, and ran a web consulting business where she was one of the first people to create websites for hire, and to successfully optimize her clients’ websites for usability and top search engine ranking. She has also worked in the gaming industry, creating high visibility web presences, content management systems, and large database back-end integrations. Silona volunteers for the ACLU and EFF on technology-based civil liberties issues, and has lobbied on various issues. The combination of her involvement in political activism, educational activism, psychometrics for gaming communities, lobbyist work, netizen activities and web design make her uniquely suited to envision the framework that will make the LoTV system all possible.

Photo of Ilan Rabinovitch

Ilan Rabinovitch


Ilan Rabinovitch is a co-organizer of Geek-PAC where he develops their voter information resources. Additionally he is co-founder of the Southern California Linux Expo and has served as Conference Chair for the last 7 years. When not advocating open source and free software, he earns a living as a Systems Administrator at Edmunds.com in Santa Monica, CA

Photo of Kevin Marks

Kevin Marks


Kevin Marks is the founder of Proud To Pay. Over the last 20 years he’s moved between giant companies and founding startups – BBC, The UK MultiMedia Corporation, Apple QuickTime, Technorati, Google, BT, Salesforce. The common thread has been working out how people, computers and media can complement each other, and solving the engineering and social problems where they meet. He is one of the driving forces behind microformats, and indiewebcamp. He is an advisor to the Open Rights Group. He wants you to remember that URLs are people too, and his URL is kevinmarks.com

  • Intel
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • SourceForge.net
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Facebook
  • Gear6
  • Kaltura
  • Liferay
  • MindTouch
  • MySpace.com
  • Novell, Inc.
  • Open Invention Network
  • Rackspace Cloud
  • Schooner Information Technology
  • Silicon Mechanics
  • Symbian Foundation
  • Twilio
  • WSO2
  • Yabarana Corporation

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