Viral Tech Report 1.3


Todd Park, America’s CTO
photo courtesy Jaime Fitzgerald, Qool Foto

On Tuesday night at the NY Tech Meetup it was policy, politics and participation with the dial turned up to eleven. The Skirball Center at NYU was packed with over 600 attendees, with several hundred more at two satellite locations watching a live stream. NY Tech announced that with nearly 28,000 members it is the largest Meetup group in the world!


Keynote speaker surprise: Todd Park, CTO of the USA. America’s wonk #1. With real tech enthusiasm, Todd described the White House Innovation Fellows program and invited NYTM members to review, scrub and contribute, either via the site  or by emailing him directly at The program enlists entrepreneurs on six month tours of civic duty to develop projects – cutting edge and cost effective – on behalf of the people.  On this tour:

Open Data Initiatives. Open data stimulates the economy. Think how government weather data allowed massive growth of the weather industry (ie weather channel), and how global positioning information let loose the entire location based social universe. New apps and services using data paid for by the people should help people find the right health care provider, identify the college value, save money on electricity bills, know which products have been recalled.

RFP-EZ. Ever tried to become a government contractor? (think triplicate triplicate triplicate). Putting requests for proposals online will help the government benefit from the “awesomeness of entrepreneurs” by making easier for startups to play in the $70B sandbox (!) of government’s annual IT budget.

 MyGov. Each agency currently has its own website, typically mirroring its own convoluted, bureaucratic structure. This is not vhat ze people vant! What the citizen needs, Todd said, is a “Reimagining the relationship between the federal government and its citizens through an online footprint.”

 The 20% Initiative.  With formalization of electronic banking comes reliability, accountability and reduced opportunity for graft in a transaction’s last mile. This “Better Than Cash” system can enable the US government programs to seamlessly move from making cash payments to support foreign policy, development assistance, government operations or commercial activities to using electronic payments such as mobile devices, smart cards and other methods. Todd cited an example where regular payroll of Afghan Police personnel via this kind of direct deposit competes successfully with cash-based bribery (think Taliban), and as a result improves the stability of the Afghan government and helps our troops get home.

Blue Button for America. Today, accessing your health records is complicated, frustrating and expensive. I’m not sure about the name, but Blue Button is about developing apps to help individuals get access to their personal health records — current medications and drug allergies, claims and treatment data, and lab reports – to improve health and healthcare choices.


With the federal election upon us, ElectNext is a great website to check out: it interviews you on your opinions (ie on things that matter to you) and compares them against the positions of politicians (and candidates). It then shows where you agree and where you disagree – the power of the site is in reporting the politician’s stand on your issues, as derived from the massive public record. What if s/he flip flops? The platform takes into account earlier positions but weights the most recent position more heavily. However – data alone can’t tell if a position is based on fact or not. But it can help you sift through the record and know who’s on your side, so you know better who to vote for and support.


The perfect follow-on in this season of polarization is ShoutRoulette. Ticked off about something? Submit your pet peeve as a Yes or a No, and this site will match you up with someone with the opposite opinion, and you can video-shout at each other to your hearts’ content.  Others can watch! The shout can be shared! At once funny and terrifying, this is an ingenious twist of the social network, up close and personal – unsafe at any volume!



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