Building up open data community in United Arab Emirates

Last February,  I had the opportunity to speak in a workshop on Open Government Data. The workshop was organized by Emirates eGovernment in collaboration with UNDESA as part of our continuous education efforts in this domain and was attended by around a hundred representatives of federal and local government entities across the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Throughout the past  18 months, I had presented and discussed the open data subject with government officials in meetings and other workshops but that was the first time to have a full day workshop dedicated for this subject.

I have presented and discussed with the audience the following issues:

  • Emirates eGovernment's shift towards Gov 2.0 practices
  • The driving forces for Open Government Data initiative in UAE
  • Basic definitions of open data
  • Benefits and challenges of opening up government data
  • Open data as a global trend
  • And the way forward for open government data initiative in the UAE

For most of the audience, open data was totally a new term to them which explains the main purpose of the workshop: to promote the concept and build up a community of open government data across the government, society, academic and private sectors.

However, the audience found it a natural step for UAE to adopt the open government data practice and even develop its own local model of this concept (check my last year article on this issue). There was a great consensus among the audience on the strong support and commitment offered by the political leadership in the country to the values embedded within the open government initiatives such as transparency, citizen participation and government accountability. The country’s top national agenda as identified in the UAE Vision 2021 and UAE Government Strategy (2011-2013) clearly calls for such practices.  You can follow the Twitter and Facebook accounts of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai to see how he himself provides  practical examples in this matter.

In addition, many federal and local government entities across the country have already started adopting the open government practices such as publishing open government data and engaging citizens in designing government policies and services. Only a few days ago, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) published The draft Guidelines for the Design, Construction and Operation of Nuclear Power Plants for  public consultation. Several government entities have started sharing good amount of their data in open format on their websites, this includes the national portal of the UAE (government.ae).

On the other side, the attendees discussed the noticeable changes that are taking place in the UAE society (comprising citizens and expatriate residents) when it comes to the perception of government’s responsibilities towards them and how it should fulfill these responsibilities. Most of the audience see a shift towards a more proactive and interactive culture where citizens take actions to engage with government authorities and participate in designing its policies and programs. Social media is believed to be  an enabling tool used by the public in smart and effective way to promote this shift. In my presentation I showed the case study of #CleanJumeirah initiative, you can read about it in my earlier post (in Arabic).

So all these are enabling success factors for the open government data in UAE to flourish and grow horizontally and vertically. But we shouldn’t overlook the challenges and risks that might hinder the progress of the initiative. Key challenges identified by the audience include the need for delivering this message to decision makers and policy designers across government entities, lack of enough awareness and education on the topic  on various levels including business and technical levels, some legislation barriers  and the culture of government entities that considers information as classified assets by nature even if they aren’t. Other less-concerning challenges include practical and technical issues related to data exchange across government information systems and the design of open data portals.

The audience have suggested and discussed several valuable approaches to tackle these challenges. However, in my humble opinion I see building up a community of possible open data stakeholders across UAE as a crucial success factor. Such community will offer us a platform where all related stakeholders can come together and work collaboratively to innovate solutions to all these challenges and others that might emerge down the road. This platform will go beyond the government boundary to include parties like business people, applications developers, academic researchers and students and of course the public.

I see this workshop with the high number of attendees and the interesting discussions we had as an excellent step in this direction. The overwhelming positive feedback we received will definitely encourage us to proceed in our initiative with more confidence.
 
Here is the presentation we had at the workshop
 

Agree, from across the planet

This super-interesting, Ibrahim! I’m an open data activist myelf, and it’s not everyday I get to engage with fellow datageeks from the Arab world. Thanks a lot for sharing this.

For what it’s worth, I totally agree with you. In Italy the open data community is there. It is very active and enthusiastic, but numerically tiny (about 250 members in the Spaghetti Open Data mailing list, far and away the best watering hole for OD entusiasts, both from the civic hacker and from the civil servant side)… but colleagues in other European countries tell me that this is actually a bigger number than they get in, say, Spain! The interesting thing about the OD community in Italy is that it has come to wield quite a lot of influence. Here you can find the story of this mailing list, and how the OD landscape in Italy changed completely over 18 months.

But that is not the whole story. As open data become fashionable, I am  worried we will see an “open data bubble”: governments releasing a lot of data and launching a lot of contests that then saturate and jam the capacity of the few civic hackers who actually do have the ability to do anything useful with the data. The only way out of this is to develop the demand side of OD: basically to teach a lot of people to look for data, download them and re-use them. In Italy people are excited about scraping and visualizations, especially of geodata; so a bunch of people in SOD, myself included, are organizing some data hack tutorials in the Fall, with the idea of bringing people from “never done it” to “I can do something!” in a day.

So, what’s happening in the Emirates? Any hackday coming? Any civil society movements worth noting from your point of observation on the Arab world?

Open gov in UAE and Arab World

Thanks Alberto for your time reading my post and commenting on it. I’m glad you found it “super-interesting”!

And thanks for the sharing the story of Spaghetti Open Data, I’ve checked it’s website and mailing list and I have to say that you guys are doing amazing job! I loved how the group focus on “delivering”, the OD manual in two weeks! and the public spending website wich is richer and more attractractive than many other government-backed websites.

The story in UAE is a bit different, the OD initiative is initiated by government (a small team within the federal eGovernment where I’m the key datageek and evanglist!). This situation goes in sync with how things work here, government has been always taking the lead and people ( around 8 million, 90% are expats like me) used to expect the government to deliver services that match their needs and expectations. This model has proven its success, but we notice an increasing wellingness from the society to be more proactive and also from the government to be more open and encourage the public to engage in desiging the government policies and programs.

As i said in my post, it’s time to leverage this momentum and focus on building up an open data community. Knowing how dynamic UAE and Dubai are, I can see great potential if we managed to succesfully bring togeter the right people and institutions to work togehter.

The story of Spaghetti Open Data gave me some interesting ideas that are applicable here.

On the wider scene of the Arab world, yes there are other two official Open Government Data initiatives in Gulf reiong: in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and I’ve published a paper on this for at the 12th European Conference on eGovernment and will share it here when the proceedings is officially published later this month.

BUT the most interesting news are coming from Tunisia where the Arab spring was sparked! the community is playing a major role in the open government movement. I’m following the development there closely, here is my latest post on this:

http://ibadawi.com/?p=1215

And here is the website of an active community group: http://www.opengov.tn/ar/

I hope you find this info useful.

Thanks again and would love to hear more from you when meeting you at Strasbourg!

Once opened store in a fridge

Wow, good thread on OG. Thanks guys!

This top-down bottom-up classification is really really important.

There is always a risk that terms get “hollowed out”.

I’m concerned with the question: how to ensure that everyone sees what is opened,

everyone cares, and has power to affect it. How do you “DO” Open Governing?

Unless international civil society is envolved, Open Government risks to turn out as a Show Off Goverment, and if it does it becomes more difficult to correct its actions.

More where this came from

Hey K, we run a full campaign on political participation early in the year. It had a Spotlight: open government mission: if you follow the link you will see how other people carried it out., i.e. exactly what thet are doing about it. Any comment you might have to leave on those mission reports are superwelcome! Another related mission you might like is called Hacking for change.

Why don’t you yourself play one of those missions? So we can better compare notes, and transfer your experience onto the Edgeryders knowledge base for the Council of Europe and the European Commission to build upon.

And… K, if it is not a secret or whatever, what is your name? At this point we have been interacting a bit, and it feels kind of weird to call you k and look at a grey avatar instead of a picture. But if you are not confortable with sharing them, of course, no problem :slight_smile:

Also, why “Once opened store in a fridge”? :-))

Tightening the screws on citizens, it does not work anymore

I can only speak for my own stuff, but in this case, I think that what is happening in my place perfectly illustrates what K pointed out in the previous comment.

The government of Quebec has studied and analyzed open government for more than 16 months, starting in October 2010. An open government declaration was announced on May 2, 2012.

Two weeks later, a legislation (Bill 78) was passed by the government, depriving citizens of basic rights such as the right to demonstrate and the right of association. Demonstrators are arrested by the hundreds, the night walks are held every night, even though they are illegal. Demonstrations of support are held in other cities and other countries. Quebec has made ​​headlines in over 80 countries, something which we have never ever seen before. The United Nations has protested against this law, and the Minister of International Relations replied that UN has better things to do than look over at Quebec. (ref. La ministre Gagnon-Tremblay fait la leçon à l’ONU)

Open government is a show off in this case, it does not mean anything. The international society is involved, and so far, it has not influenced the government leaders.

The situation worsens, it could even be compared to what happened in Germany with the Jews, in the 30s? Citizens who wear a red square, or simply a red scarf around the neck, are stopped by the police and their bags and belongings are searched, without even the action of manifesting. Just because they wear the color red. (ref. Quand porter un carré rouge devient illégal: des journalistes du Devoir arrêtés. http://ow.ly/btHtm)

In this instance, it becomes very difficult to correct the actions. In fact, only the fall of the government becomes feasible. Damage to the disengagement of citizens is considerable: young people, students. But all generations have joined the cause of youth. The young people took on their shoulders the role of social justice.

It is not possible to do any open governing in such conditions. The citizens have been deprived of their voice. The law is so poorly made ​​that people do not know if they will be arrested at gatherings such as festivals and summer concerts. We no longer have the right to be more than 50 people.

Being an activist for open government in these circumstances, it is a farce! The shack is on fire! It has turned into a question of justice. Fundamental rights have been violated. As long as the fundamental rights are not restored, there is no possibility of open government. Citizens are not respected: how can there be an open government? Citizens do not DO any opengov participation or collaboration: there is no will, or no room for the citizens to collaborate, to co-govern in harmony with the government.

I am so sorry that this situation is happening in Quebec. MY so gorgeous Quebec, where nothing usually happened before, isolated in its quiet bubble. I think that it is a barometer that there is something seriously wrong in our present world. Seriously seriously wrong.

Some autocrat leaders believe that by tightening the notch on the degree of control, they get to stifle social chaos. This has the opposite effect nowadays! I do not understand how leaders do not understand this, do not get this. Dont’ they read the newspapers, since the Arab Spring? Don’t they learn anything? We have observed this scenario in many countries. Tightening the screws on citizens, it does not work anymore.

You know, one of my biggest dreams was to see my government become a world leader of open government. Hey, I thought about this for years, and I even proposed the government a project that would have allowed to reach this goal. I’m embarassed to say that in its own weird way, it has gone global. (Forehead banging against my desk.)

Sultan

Hi Ibrahim, this was an interesting read. Especially for someone who used to live in the Emirates :slight_smile: Have you had a chance to cross paths with Sultan Al Qassemi? I think he´s at some school of governance in Dubai and might be interested in this. I´ll ping him

Sultan

Thanks Nadia for your time and comment, yes I met Sultan a few times in some public events. I’m a graduate of DSG myslef and the top student of it’s 2009 Master in Public Adminsitration class :slight_smile: However, I had never had the chance to talk to him about this issue, if he is interested then he can add a LOT of value to our effort in building up the open data community and spreading the practice. Appreicate your offer and let me know if you need any further info from my side… And looking forward to meeting you in Strasbourg!

The importance of commitment from the highest spheres

18 months corresponds to the exact same number of months that one member of parliament of the government of Quebec has been studying open data and open government principles. (see 'Gouverner ensemble, report by Henri-François Gautrin).

However, what strikes me as the most important fundamental difference, is the ‘strong support and commitment offered by the political leadership in the country’ that you described.

I am also trying to figure out way to build a strong community of advocates for open government in Quebec. A Démocratie ouverte.org group has been set up by Jean-François Gauthier, but it it very difficult to get the dozen or more members mobilized and have them write on the we-blog.

Jean-François sent a message today to all members, wondering why it is so difficult to engage the members.

Another question that has been floating in my mind day and night for the past couple years: Why is it so difficult to engage the highest spheres of power in embracing opengov principles? Why are there so many roadblocks?

When the highest spheres of power are not engaged, then the success of intiatives is considerably compromised.

Therefore, global collaboration — you know… the JohnFMoore opengov dream… — involving many advocates from many countries around the world, beyond frontiers, states, continents, languages, age, gender, and cultures, could be a tremendous learning and growing experience for all of us.

It is a real delight to read you here at Edgeryders. I am looking forward meeting you in person.

Let’s focus on value

Thanks Lyne for your valuable comments and thoughts on the issue, I tend to think that the situation of political leadership in Quebec is not unique.  Let’s also not forget that the level of  the needed political support can vary from one country to another, and hence the appropirate approach to secure their engagement and support should be differnet as well. You highlithed a very important issue: the poor engagemnt can be seen also within the open gov community members and activist! So it’s an issue that goes beyond poltiicians. I think one reason behind that is the way we (open gov/data evangelists) talk to those politicians and various groups. Sometimes, we assume that they look at open gov/data from the same angle as we do and overlook the the fact that they might have different priorities and challenges that might make them see things in a different way.

I’ve always belived that it will be good for open gov/data evangelists to focus their resources on answering one simple questions: what is the value that open gov/data can deliver to those differnet stakeholders?

I’m sure that there are a handful of policy issues or challenges that politicians, activists, people in the streets and business companies can agree upon as common priorities for all of them. If we managed to identify these isuees, we should then focus on “showing case” how applying open gov principles can help in solving these issues and hence delivering values to all these different parties.

This might not always be an easy excercise, but I see it more effective technique than only advocating politicians and other groups on open gov/data.

Here comes the role of global collaboration you mentioned, platforms with such wide vision like the one of JohnFMoor  can save a lot of time and effort by enabling us to share and exchange experities on how to deliver VALUE…

Or, what do you think?

A kif-kif relationship

I have no problem “delivering value”, as this means looking at the world through positive lens.

The Edgeryders experimental project also “delivers value”. In order to do this, however, it required from a government institution to set aside the negative perceptions of a segment of population — in this case, youth -– and consider them with a fresh new look.

For any messenger to be able to go to the authorities to deliver his message, to deliver value, he/she should not be jailed nor deprived from his/her fundamental rights, or simply ignored, by not being listened to.

The gov people have to make a move. 

Top-down vs. bottom-up

Wow, good debate. Mind If I step in?

I have been looking with much interest at the development  of the open data scene in different countries. I see two models: top-down and bottom-up. The top-down one is incarnated by President Obama signing his famous memorandum on open government four hours after moving into the Oval Office. By doing so, he was sending a powerful message down the hierarchy tree: the President wants this done, deal with it. This method is fast and can command a lot of resources, but is prone to “bubbles” - and in fact, later, the administration reconsidered and slashed the opengov budget by half.

The bottom-up model is incarnated by Spaghetti Open Data in Italy: a handful of enthusiasts (some will be civic hackers, some well-meaning civil servants) with no money but some technical skill and some maneuvering space. This model is slow and can’t command resources: projects are built painstakingly one by one, on spare time. And yet, it is more sustainable, because the shift towards open data is “pure”, not driven by contractors trying to catch fat government contracts or by yes-men trying to please the leader. Also, it means that - if ever it becomes a government policy - open data will find skilled people to work on it, need fewer resources (because the community has learned to make do with free software and no marketing), and - above all - count on a community that knows how to reuse the data being released, and wants to do so.

You don’t really get to choose a model: each country develops according to its own deep governance structure. I know nothing about the UAE, but from Ibrahim’s report it seems that the Sheikh himself is playing a role. People look up to him, apparently; by going over to Twitter he is leading the civil society to take social media seriously. In Italy, the Prime Minister is perceived as a follower: he or she will adopt Twitter only after civil society leaders have opened the way, tested its utility and proved that it works even in a public policy context. This is not because the Prime Minister is weak or conservative (the one we have now is a brilliant economist, anything but slow), it is just the way our society is wired.

What we can say is that each country would probably do well to make the most of its deep wiring. Maybe in the UAE you can just leapfrog everybody else, because the Sheikh can mobilize society quickly and effectively. In Italy, I am devoting my effort to developing the demand side of open data - teaching students and journalists to use Scraperwiki, Google Refine and visualization techniques - in the hope that will lead to a small but viable “open data economy”, that will keep going even if the next Prime Minister is not interested.

Ibrahim, I would be interested: does this make any sort of sense to you?

Avoiding the context gap

You are absolutely right Alberto about the significant and inspiring role leadership in UAE. In addition, I see a need to develope the demand side in balance with the going efforts to spread the practice at the government side.

I would like also to emphasis on your statement: “You don’t really get to choose a model: each country develops according to its own deep governance structure” , there is no one-size-fits-all here and this is exactly was one of the key factors behind the failure of many eGovernment initiatives in its early years (and till know i guess!) where many governments thought it would be easier to “copy & past” other countries’ practices wihout doing their homework in studying thier local governance context and think about the most appropriate way to "adopt and adapt.

Last year, I had the chance to meet with Chris Vein from the White House’s Open Gov in ICEGOV 2011 and he repeatidly said that open gov is not an American reciepe but a bundle of principles and practices that are agreed upon globally, countries don’t have to follow the Amercian way in practicing Open Gov but have the chance to develope their “local versions”. I think the leading role of countries like Brazil  in Open Gov Partnership is a good example of this.

Focus on connections in BC

I also met Chris Vein in Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) in October 2010.

The model of international multllateral partnership proposed by Government and the Lab (designed by JohnFMoore and I), was based on a combination of top-down / bottom-up collaboration, involving as its core, developing countries, and starting with an experimental project where a small group of States would participe (4). And later on, after some group learning and tangible results would have emerged, expansion was to occur with a larger number of States (39+). It is the opposite of what has been set up with the Open Government Partneship, where many countries have signed a statement (43+), without providing the thinking behind it (their own ways of doing opengov) and the commitments (with the exception of a very small group of countries).

The majority of activist of opendata circles are men. They tend to do things that are men-thinking oriented? Women may have other concerns? So far, we have heard observers notice that women government leaders adopt open government principles more rapidly. Has anyone pondered what would mono-female groups would look like and what kinds of projects they would focus on, or what kinds of projects would more gender balanced groups succeed in setting up?

In Canada, there are 3 women first ministers: Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland and Labrador; Christy Clark of British Columbia and Alison Redford of Alberta.

Christy Clark applied the top-down Obama approach, but with a female twist. She made an electoral promise that she would become the “most CONNECTED” premier in Canada (I insist on this particular choice of words that she used, because we have seen a phenomena of connections in the initial findings of the Edgeryders initial findings). Once elected, she said: “Let’s do it”, and everybody agreed to follow her directive. When one takes the time to speak with the government managers from British Columbia, it becomes obvious, very quickly, that they share a different mindset, they are citizen-driven, and the desire to involve citizens in their efforts is rather high in these managers. They talk about things like making a direct contact on Skype. I experienced it myself. I have been in direct Skype voice and camera contact with BC managers. I have more links with managers from British Columbia that with gov people of my province. Christy Clark focussed on CONNECTIONS, it was her main initial intention, and it resulted in an impulse that spread in the minds of public servants and managers. I find that it is quite fascinating to watch.

The only known hackers group operating in Quebec, OpenNorth (100% men) has several project underway, including an online database of contracts awarded by the City of Montreal. This project helps to shed light on the corruption and collusion in the main municipality of Quebec. The group says that at least 3 articles were written by Montreal Gazette reporters using this database.

At the “We the people” working group next week at Lote conference, I predict that it will a group approaching 100% males. Humm.

Agree, let’s make it happen in LOTE!

Hi again Lyne, I salute your insistene on bringing up the issue of poor women represenation in leadership of various government transformation communiities/platforms. I totally agree with your observations on the special and different ways of thinking and leadership women can bring to these transformation efforts. I really engjoyed reading through the example of Christy Clark of BC, she did all that in less than 3 months! Thanks for sharing such example that sheds light on the open gov shift in another part of your beatiful country.

Btw, have you read the recent post of Andrea di Maio titled: Women in Government IT Rock ? he is talking about other three sharp and driven IT executives in Canada !

On the same issue, I I’ve noticed that there are good number of women in the open gov/data field (not in leading positions though) active on Twitter, have you thought about connecting with them? or establishing a sort of network?

Now regarding our We the People group, take the chance to encourage more women to join. We are lucky to have you in a leading position in this important conference, so show us some of the Canadian magic that worked for Christy Clark and you got my full support!

See you soon in Strasbourg …

A bit of everything

I do not know the women in the Di Maio’s article.

Christy Clark’s video about open government, where she explains what it means to her, is becoming a sort of ‘I am a legend’ clip. The last time I was at the National Assembly Parliament, several civil servants were talking about it. And I could see the sparks in their eyes and passion. A simple video, involving the highest spheres of power, can be enough to inspire employees of an administration, but also civil servants from other governments.

Being fully aware of this clip, it is unfortunate that Premier Charest did not follow Ms. Clark’s footsteps. He did not attend the press conference announcing an open government. I was holding my tears. I was so disappointed.

Here’s another reason why working and collaborating with other activists and managers from other governments is important. Although open government initiatives differ from one geographic area and from one culture to another, there are denominators. It is not written anywhere, in a book of conduct, what should be the essential. But leadership from above, in my opinion, it is essential. It is the difference between having government employees and citizens super enthusiastic, and people who want to cry on press conferences because they know deep down inside that the opengov plan will probably not work like clockwork. If it does not send an impulse of energy in every mind, I think it is missing something.

There should be peer (citizens) reviews of open government declarations.

I always found it a bit weird when a government goes with great fanfare to make an opengov announcement, and then a shower of protest rises from the population, because the projects and initiatives are unitilisables. Opengov-looks-good-on-paper style, it usually means nothing in reality. Meaningless. It could be compared to a lover who keeps uttering the words I love you. Usually one knows when there is love, and there is no need to make grandiose statements, just simply act daily is usually appreciated. The same could be said about citizens. Even if a government tells them, 'We want to speak with you, we put forward an initiative to collaborate with you ', and in every action, this intention is not found whenever people come into contact with this government, the citizens can quickly make the equation between the words and the attitudes, the words and the lack of concrete actions. Citizens are smart enough to notice by themselves when the two do not stick together.

The Twitter group… that’s an idea! Never been done, as far as I know. There must be groups like this on GovLoop? (I haven’t been there in a long time).

Women opengov activists from my network: Allison Hornery (Sydney, Australia), Pam Broviak (Chicago, USA), Lea Daoud (Edmonton, Canada), Anke Beirg-Domscheit (Berlin, Germany), Morgane Bravo (Paris, France), Marguerite Dehler (Ottawa, Canada), Claire Gallon (Nantes, France), Nicole Goulet (Laval, Canada), Susan Hess @Susan_Hess (USA), Brittney Le Blanc (Edmonton, Canada), Cartney McCracken (West Virginia, USA), Dominique Ollivier (Montreal, Canada), Andrea Schneider (Los Angeles, USA), Nadia Seraiocco (Montreal, Canada), Marianne Tremblay (United Arab Emirates), Lovisa Williams (Washington, USA), Stéphanie Wojcik (Paris, France).

My favorite woman opengov blogger is Catherine Howe.

Brittney Le Blanc is co-organizer of the Yeg (Edmonton) Geek Girls Dinners.

Leadership opinion leaders from my network: Lolly Dascal (New York, USA) and Tara Markus (Toronto, Canada), Lori Moreno (Palo Alto, USA).

Which reminds me… One day, I asked Adriel Hampton who inspired him, and his answer was Lori Moreno. I was very surprised by this answer. because Lori cannot stop to talking and tweeting about love.

JohnFMoore’s answer was astrophysician Stephen Hawking.

I like to ask my friends who inspires them. It tells me a lot about you they are. Who inspires you?

Why so interesting connection with activists from around world?

Why is it so interesting to be connected with open government activists from around the world?

Could it be because these multiple connections offer us a diversity of strategies that allows to expand our horizons?

Those who know me well must have noticed that I like to make hypothesis about a variety of topics…

Here’s another one! THE MORE AUTOCRACY IN A GIVEN GEOGRAPHIC AREA, THE MORE THE ACTIVISTS TEND TOWARDS SACRIFICE (or another word to describe this could be sainthood-like behavior), AND FROM THESE EXTREME CONDITIONS GEMINATES UNEXPECTED SOLUTIONS.

In Tunisia, Tarak Bouazizi, male, 26 years old, young graduate in computer science, doused himself with petrol, and set himself in fire in the public square after the authorities confiscated his wheelbarrow and goods, and then humiliated him when he tried to tell his story and find a solution to keep his small business. (ref http://www.gauchemip.org/spip.php?article11257)

Immolation was his opengov activism style. The sacrifice of his life was the only way that he found to demonstrate his point of view.

In Tunisia, and in many other countries around the world, bloggers are imprisoned, abused, tortured, and many die from their injuries. They sacrificed their human lives simply because they talked, they tried to share their point of view.

In Quebec, thousands of citizens have been arrested these past weeks, since the draconian Bill 78 has been adopted. Citizens are denied their right to demonstrate.

Two members of parliament of Quebec, Bernard Drainville and Amir Khadir, have been arrested and will have to pay a ticket (ref. Amir Khadir arrested; Bernard Drainville had to pay a ticket)

I don’t demonstrate because I am a single mother with the responsibility of a son. If I am emprisoned, who will take care of my son??? Where will my son go during the time I spend in prison? I am also too poor to be able to afford having to pay very high fees to demonstrate. Some students have been billed nearly $700 for participating in a public demonstration. I need this money to feed my son.

As much as I would like to take part in daily demonstrations that occur every night, I must think of these things. Men who take the street, and are fathers, they are likely to have a wife that can take care of their children. That is not the case of single mothers.
What kinds of open government activists grow in such environments? Are there differences in gender? What directions do these activists explore? What solutions are they analysing?

Most of the ‘sacrifice’ bloggers / activists that we have seen so far have been mainly men. What happens when it comes to women activist? Do they think of other types of solutions, that men have not considered?

Consider me, for instance. Why do I talk about subject matters that are not normally discussed by other open government activists? What is it exactly, in my personal experience, which allows me to connect multiple factors together, and all link these to my open government activism?

When people take the streets, it is usually because the situation has become unsustainable in its most extreme way. How many years before a situation becomes completely intolerable, how long does it take before the bloggers perceive this situation and sound the alarm? During all these years that some far-seeing individuals live with these thoughts of unsustainable government in their heads, carry this vision of intolerance with them, what solutions do they find, in their own points of view, that could improve the situation?

Could we consider the various types of experiences of open government activists, including the “mainstream” or “traditional” and the more extreme “sacrifice” types, and after having looked at all their experiences and understood that they may represent a response to a certain type of (abusive) governance, be inspired by them to propose a diversification of strategies for open government?