Create, Innovate + Participate

Have you ever read the Federal Register? I remember looking at the volumes during law school and might have needed to use them for work a few times before that. They had great information, but were definitely not user friendly.

Over the last few weeks, I've enjoyed reading a wonderful book called The Innovator's Cookbook, by Steven Johnson, who is an expert on innovation.

I'm almost done with the book, but one of my favorite chapters is called A Conversation with Beth Noveck. She is the author of Wiki Government, served as U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer from 2009 - 2010, and led President Obama's Open Government Initiative.

When asked about one of her favorite examples of open government, she answered the Federal Register 2.0. I had no idea that it was now so accessible to the public. It's a great resource and easy to use if you're looking for government information.

I love the way that the new website came about. Here's a portion of the chapter below with added links and edits for clarity.
"In response to a prize-backed challenge to do something with a government data set, three guys sitting in a coffee shop in San Francisco went on and looked for the biggest data set they could find. And that was ten years' worth of Federal Registers in a raw, downloadable format by the National Archives. They said, 'We've never heard of the Federal Register; we've never looked at it, but man, is this hard to read. We could make this look better.' Long story short, they enter their prototype in the competition; they don't get first prize, they get second prize, but the National Archives and government printing office that publish the Federal Register noticed and saw their entry and thought, Wow, that's pretty good. And they called up the three guys in the coffee shop and they said, 'How would you like to remake the Federal Register for us?'"
Pretty cool! It's amazing what a little creativity and innovation can do.

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