Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "Something pretty rare happened last week. City officials of Chicago got together with hackers from around the country to unveil a vastly better new online version of the Chicago City Code. Public.Resource.Org worked with the City to make bulk data available, the folks at the OpenGov Foundation turned that into the popular States Decoded format that folks are using in DC, Virginia, San Francisco, and other locations around the country. The code, the data, and the formats are all open source and we were there to celebrate the unveiling and encourage volunteers in Chicago to take it even further."
The idea that citizens work with their government to make the laws more accessible shouldn't be a big shocker, but it is really rare. My speech at the event, The Virtuous Pipeline of Code, explained why it's so rare and how if you're in the business of promulgating the law to promite an informed citizenry, you can find yourself on the business end of a subpoena. (Recent examples on Boing Boing: threats Public.Resource.Org received from Mississippi and for reading the National Electrical Code without a license.)
(Image: Carl Malamud presents the Honorable Susana Mendoza, City Clerk of Chicago, with a Professional-grade rubber stamp inscribed "If a law isn't public, it isn't a law.") (Thanks, Carl!)
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.