[@OKFNau] Cleaning my file system

Lachlan Musicman datakid at gmail.com
Tue Mar 24 23:37:24 UTC 2015

Last night while cleaning my file system ("watching and listening to
all those downloaded mini-documentaries and filing them correctly") I
rediscovered the Dan Pink talk "Drive: The surprising truth about what
motivates us"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc (shorter animation)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mG-hhWL_ug  (whole talk)

While I understand that it's all a bit mumbo jumbo, I do like the
focus on his "new motivators". I don't think that they are necessarily
"the truth" but they make for a good framework to talk about the
relationship between the volunteer hacker/IT/OpenKnowledge community
and the government.

Autonomy, mastery & purpose.

Autonomy is why we ask for the data to be open, the science, the
hardware, the software, the discussion - all open. That way we get a
stronger democracy.

Mastery is what we offer via OK - an opportunity and space for people
to learn, via GovHack, HealthHack and the weekly gatherings. Consult
with experts, get advice, helping others, practice, practice,

Purpose is what we allow each person to develop on their own - the
more open opportunities, the more likely people are to find something
that they are willing to put their energies into.

I think, in my initial critique of that long thread, this was what I
was trying to get at. Governments really need to understand these
motivators if they want to understand how to get a roomful of hackers
to use their data.

By demanding mastery immediately, short term projects with short term
goals, without allowing room for growth and practice, people are

Allowing autonomy is *difficult* for governments. It's a fundamental
step away from control structures that are required to justify its

By demanding the/a/a particular Purpose from the outset, people are
discouraged from doing what they would rather. Compare this with the
broad range of prizes offered at GovHack - some are specific, but a
lot are very broad. This is a good thing I think.

OK Melbourne was recently approached by a group that wanted to consult
with us/partner in order to put in a tender for a Public Transport
Victoria RFT to run a hackathon.

The PTV didn't seem to understand that they had fundamentally missed
the mark, the sweet spot that would get people in the room - there was
no autonomy at all, the whole event seemed highly scripted from the
start. There was no mastery - the PTV data remains obtuse and
difficult to use (that's improving soon we hear, and are looking
forward to it greatly), the time frame was ridiculously short. And the
purpose was not exploration or discovery, but specifically "build us a
high quality, ready for market, app in a weekend". It came across less
as a hackathon and more as a shiny event for the minister to be
photo'd at.

This is a prime example of how *not* to approach OK or hackathons. I
don't think it is malicious or cynical - I really do think it is more
likely to be bad or poor advice then executed clumsily.

In some ways this is one of the purposes of OK - to provide the ground
work for better attempts at, and frameworks for, interacting with data
owners of all descriptions, and making sure they have better advice
about what we actually can do, and how to get us in the room in the
first place.

<ends thoughtramble>


 It is through this shadowy emptiness (of negative space) that we
walk, talk, see, and live; negative space is the impossible cellophane
layer that drapes the known world and is invisible to all but to the
most perceptive minds.

It is possible to learn to see negative space though, in both the
visual and imagined worlds. The first step is developing the ability
to see, and the second is learning — as romantic poet John Keats put
it — to be “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts,
without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”
Seeking Genius in Negative Space, Chris Messina

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