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  • I'm going to talk about hackers.

  • And the image that comes to your mind

  • when I say that word is probably not

  • of Benjamin Franklin,

  • but I'm going to explain to you why it should be.

  • The image that comes to your mind

  • is probably more likely of a pasty kid

  • sitting in a basement doing something mischievous,

  • or of a shady criminal who is trying to steal your identity,

  • or of an international rogue

  • with a political agenda.

  • And mainstream culture has kind of fed this idea

  • that hackers are people that we should be afraid of.

  • But like most things in technology

  • and the technology world,

  • hacking has equal power for good as it has for evil.

  • For every hacker that's trying to steal your identity

  • there's one that's building a tool

  • that will help you find your loved ones after a disaster

  • or to monitor environmental quality

  • after an oil spill.

  • Hacking is really just any amateur innovation

  • on an existing system,

  • and it is a deeply democratic activity.

  • It's about critical thinking.

  • It's about questioning existing ways of doing things.

  • It's the idea that if you see a problem, you work to fix it,

  • and not just complain about it.

  • And in many ways, hacking is what built America.

  • Betsy Ross was a hacker.

  • The Underground Railroad was a brilliant hack.

  • And from the Wright brothers to Steve Jobs,

  • hacking has always been at the foundation

  • of American democracy.

  • So if there's one thing I want to leave you here with today,

  • it's that the next time you think about who a hacker is,

  • you think not of this guy

  • but of this guy, Benjamin Franklin,

  • who was one of the greatest hackers of all time.

  • He was one of America's most prolific inventors,

  • though he famously never filed a patent,

  • because he thought that all human knowledge

  • should be freely available.

  • He brought us bifocals and the lightning rod,

  • and of course there was his collaboration

  • on the invention of American democracy.

  • And in Code For America, we really try to embody

  • the spirit of Ben Franklin.

  • He was a tinkerer and a statesman

  • whose conception of citizenship

  • was always predicated on action.

  • He believed that government could be built

  • by the people,

  • and we call those people civic hackers.

  • So it's no wonder that the values

  • that underly a healthy democracy,

  • like collaboration and empowerment

  • and participation and enterprise,

  • are the same values that underly the Internet.

  • And so it's no surprise that many hackers

  • are turning their attention to the problem of government.

  • But before I give you a few examples

  • of what civic hacking looks like,

  • I want to make clear that you don't have

  • to be a programmer to be a civic hacker.

  • You just have to believe that you can bring

  • a 21st-century tool set to bear

  • on the problems that government faces.

  • And we hear all the time from our community

  • of civic hackers at Code for America

  • that they didn't understand how much nontechnical work

  • actually went into civic hacking projects.

  • So keep that in mind.

  • All of you are potential civic hackers.

  • So what does civic hacking look like?

  • Our team last year in Honolulu,

  • which in this case was three full-time fellows

  • who were doing a year of public service,

  • were asked by the city to rebuild the website.

  • And it's a massive thing of tens of thousands of pages

  • which just wasn't going to be possible

  • in the few months that they had.

  • So instead, they decided to build a parallel site

  • that better conformed to how citizens actually

  • want to interact with information on a city website.

  • They're looking for answers to questions,

  • and they want to take action when they're done,

  • which is really hard to do from a site

  • that looks like this.

  • So our team built Honolulu Answers,

  • which is a super-simple search interface

  • where you enter a search term or a question

  • and get back plain language answers

  • that drive a user towards action.

  • Now the site itself was easy enough to build,

  • but the team was faced with the challenge

  • of how they populate all of the content.

  • It would have taken the three of them

  • a very long time,

  • especially given that none of them are actually from Honolulu.

  • And so they did something that's really radical,

  • when you think about how government

  • is used to working.

  • They asked citizens to write the content.

  • So you've heard of a hack-a-thon.

  • They held a write-a-thon,

  • where on one Saturday afternoon --

  • ("What do I do about wild pigs being a nuisance?") (Laughter) —

  • Wild pigs are a huge problem in Honolulu, apparently.

  • In one Saturday afternoon,

  • they were able to populate most of the content

  • for most of the frequently asked questions,

  • but more importantly than that,

  • they created a new way for citizens to participate in their government.

  • Now, I think this is a really cool story in and of itself,

  • but it gets more awesome.

  • On the National Day of Civic Hacking

  • this past June in Oakland, where I live,

  • the Code For America team in Oakland

  • took the open source code base of Honolulu Answers

  • and turned it into Oakland Answers,

  • and again we held a write-a-thon

  • where we took the most frequently asked questions

  • and had citizens write the answers to them,

  • and I got into the act.

  • I authored this answer, and a few others.

  • And I'm trying to this day to articulate

  • the sense of empowerment and responsibility

  • that I feel for the place that I live

  • based simply on this small act of participation.

  • And by stitching together my small act

  • with the thousands of other small acts of participation

  • that we're enabling through civic hacking,

  • we think we can reenergize citizenship

  • and restore trust in government.

  • At this point, you may be wondering

  • what city officials think of all this.

  • They actually love it.

  • As most of you guys know, cities are being asked

  • every day to do more with less,

  • and they're always looking for innovative solutions

  • to entrenched problems.

  • So when you give citizens a way to participate

  • beyond attending a town hall meeting,

  • cities can actually capture

  • the capacity in their communities

  • to do the business of government.

  • Now I don't want to leave the impression

  • that civic hacking is just an American phenomenon.

  • It's happening across the globe,

  • and one of my favorite examples

  • is from Mexico City, where earlier this year,

  • the Mexico House of Representatives

  • entered into a contract with a software development firm

  • to build an app that legislators would use

  • to track bills.

  • So this was just for the handful of legislators

  • in the House.

  • And the contract was a two-year contract

  • for 9.3 million dollars.

  • Now a lot of people were really angry about this,

  • especially geeks who knew that 9.3 million dollars

  • was an absolutely outrageous amount of money

  • for what was a very simple app.

  • But instead of taking to the streets,

  • they issued a challenge.

  • They asked programmers in Mexico

  • to build something better and cheaper,

  • and they offered a prize of 9,300 dollars --

  • 10,000 times cheaper

  • than the government contract,

  • and they gave the entrants 10 days.

  • And in those 10 days,

  • they submitted 173 apps,

  • five of which were presented to Congress

  • and are still in the app store today.

  • And because of this action,

  • that contract was vacated,

  • and now this has sparked a movement in Mexico City

  • which is home to one of our partners,

  • Code for Mexico City.

  • And so what you see in all three of these places,

  • in Honolulu and in Oakland and in Mexico City,

  • are the elements that are at the core of civic hacking.

  • It's citizens who saw things that could be working better

  • and they decided to fix them,

  • and through that work, they're creating

  • a 21st-century ecosystem of participation.

  • They're creating a whole new set of ways

  • for citizens to be involved,

  • besides voting or signing a petition or protesting.

  • They can actually build government.

  • So back to our friend Ben Franklin,

  • who, one of his lesser-known accomplishments

  • was that in 1736 he founded

  • the first volunteer firefighting company in Philadelphia,

  • called a brigade.

  • And it's because he and his friends noticed

  • that the city was having trouble keeping up

  • with all the fires that were happening in the city,

  • so in true civic hacker fashion,

  • they built a solution.

  • And we have our own brigades at Code for America

  • working on the projects that I've just described,

  • and we want to ask you

  • to follow in Ben Franklin's footsteps

  • and come join us.

  • We have 31 brigades in the U.S.

  • We are pleased to announce today

  • that we're opening up the brigade to international cities

  • for the first time,

  • starting with cities in Poland and Japan and Ireland.

  • You can find out if there's a brigade where you live

  • at brigade.codeforamerica.org,

  • and if there's not a brigade where you live, we will help you.

  • We've created a tool kit which also lives

  • at brigade.codeforamerica.org,

  • and we will support you along the way.

  • Our goal is to create a global network of civic hackers

  • who are innovating on the existing system

  • in order to build tools that will solve

  • entrenched problems,

  • that will support local government,

  • and that will empower citizens.

  • So please come hack with us.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I'm going to talk about hackers.

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B1 US TED civic hacking brigade government hacker

【TED】Catherine Bracy: Why good hackers make good citizens (Catherine Bracy: Why good hackers make good citizens)

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    CUChou posted on 2014/12/25
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