After several hundred “pokes” it’s probably time to edit this section. Though I have written often about the broad issue of open government, the theme may be appearing more often. As of last month I am the ‘outreach coordinator” for OpenTheGovernment.org, a national coalition of civil society organizations working in tandem to make us all more aware of the what it takes to assure open government. Though I’m as interested as ever in free-wheel poking around, I’m learning so much about open government that I want to share what I’m learning as I poke around the complexities, the who’s, what’s and why’s of what it takes to assure our right to know in a rapidly changing political, economic and technological environment. The tone may change, but I’m still poking….
A friend urges me often and persistently to write a series or post a blog on the theme “Poking Around.” She observes correctly that I am always poking around either in real time and space or digitally – always exploring places, people and ideas. Because of recent changes in my quasi-professional life, I’ve decided that the time has come. Welcome to Poking Around….
Focus of my Poking Around is fixed on information frontiers. Life is all about yet unexamined opportunities to learn.
Poking Around in the real world usually starts with learning frontiers in my immediate neighborhood, Northeast Minneapolis, or places in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area that are reachable by public transit. While others rush by I poke around by foot and by bus or light rail transit. There’s no end of things to see and hear and learn. On a good day I just hop off the bus and check out a neighborhood or a building or a park. I’m not so much into museums as into the treasures that are overlooked. Same goes with people.
In the digital world my favorite frontier is access to public information and to the public institutions, especially libraries and librarians, that rise to the challenge of enhancing access to public information. When you get through the endless discussion of “pipes” and get to the hard core of live information, it’s a fascinating information frontier. Though the technology may be 21st Century, the tools of the trade of librarianship has passed down through the centuries. And the more information there is, and the more people who need the information, the more those tools become indispensable.
A second digital frontier encompasses ways in which digital data are stored and shared, my particular favorite being podcasts because they are so efficient and so overlooked.
The reality that energizes is that Poking Around may just be the essential skill and habit for the time. It’s the fruits of Poking Around I’d like to share here. My conviction is that information is only as good as it is shared. It’s a concept well formulated by Harlan Cleveland, the renowned prophet of the information age, wh reminded us that information, like a kiss, is best when shared.
My definition of information is inclusive – data, ideas, people, places, recipes or proverbial wisdom. The opportunities to Poke Around and share are endless.
I hope you’ll join me on my Pokings – and that you’ll share your Pokes with me and others.