Gouvcamp Paris Quebec Geneva 10 April 2012 - http://parlement-et-citoyens.fr

At the Assemblée nationale, Salle Lamartine, Paris

What was it?

Yesterday there was a very interesting conference aiming to promote open government in the French-speaking world. There was a very diverse group of citizens, democracy advocates, local elected officials, members of parliament, researchers (sociology, political science, economists, etc.) developers, activists, civil servants et al. The choice of venue in the Assemblée nationale suggested a real desire to connect grass-roots and high-level policy makers. There were representatives from a range of countries: Tunisia, Switzerland, France, Belgium and Quebec.


Participants want more open data, more open government and more participative processes in the search of:

  1. Transparency
  2. Participation
  3. Collaboration
The candidness and honesty expressed in regretting the slow uptake of open government principles in the French-speaking world should be applauded for its self-awareness and high potential for sparking change; as should the rigour and analysis of both the impact and implications of open government in their respective countries.

Tools showcased

These factors of resistance explain to some extent the tentativeness and nervousness of projects aiming to introduce more open government into French-speaking politics. There are undoubted benefits to the tools on display:

  1. greater access to information that influences decision-making and lawmaking via a very navigable, aesthetically pleasing website that also enables comments and contributions from one and all (Parlement&Citoyens);
  2. better informed and reasoned choices in election campaigns through a visually stunning website comparing candidates and all their declarations, statements, interviews, debates etc. (www.voxe.org) (as an aside – hackathons organised by Voxe push the boat out a lot more, searching for innovation in open government);
  3. enhanced, more widespread, and accessing normally unheard opinions of social networkers, while breaking down the policies of candidates into understandable chunks, (www.tuttivox.fr) makes the democratic processes of elections more enticing to a wider public.
  4. (www.propx.fr) goes further in my opinion by enabling participants to go beyond the politician’s narrow framing of debate, aspiring more to promote collaboration in politics rather than the implicit encouragement resulting from the three other tools.
  5. In a different way, Tunisia’s PDP’s Open Congress website promotes collaboration within the existing policy debate by explicitly encouraging debate on major policy themes (www.vousparticipez.com
And so

The thirst and enthusiasm for open government is clearly there, as is impressive technical skill and design. My congratulations to all concerned on good work in transparency, accountability and initial participation… I’d like to see more work on the collaboration side too now.


The next event to follow will be on the 16 May in Montreal: “SmartGouv”, see http://webcom-montreal.com/horaire/e-gouv for anyone interested in attending. Edgeryders will be there Lyne Robichaud @Lyne_Robichaud

Un petit bout

I am very happy and proud that a member of the Edgeryders team took the time to go to Paris to attend this meeting. Thank you CoE for allowing this trip.


These issues are important for me, and I am still hoping that the main French-speaking States will turn OpenGov soon, as I have been hoping this for years. I'm not sure why, but there is a great force that pushes me into trying to have the Anglosphere and the Francosphere go hand in hand in their development of opengov. Since I cannot do that (alone), I was hoping that others would see a value in this vision. Apparently, some of it is slowly spreading. Un petit bout.

I suppose that we are getting closer to the goal. But I still feel great hesitation from the authorities.
Having the opportunity to be part of the Edgeryders team --- I am very grateful! --- allows me to carry the ideas and innovations of this experimental project to the ears of the Francophone decision and policy makers.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe that CoE can do something to support the Francophone countries in their efforts towards participatory democracy. There is not really a 'big brother, neither at the UN nor at the OIF, which currentlyoccupiesthat role. It would takes a few people with eyes as big as the Earth, to accompany them.

Since I'm good at dreamimg, I'll keep dreaming!

I just can’t keep up with OpenGov stuff…

It’s like a whole other world of activity, all fascinating, but with its own history and language and tiers and features and I just can’t keep track of what’s happening.

Glad for a quick tour of a part of the process, though, it’s nice seeing that good things are happening in the world next door!

What we here at Edgeryders does count

Vinay, for the francosphere, it’s not too difficult to follow… because almost nothing is happening!

The main Francophone States, like Québec and France, have not announced any opengov initiative yet. In France, Belgium, there has been efforts done by public authorities to set up open data initiatives. In Canada, which is a bilingual country, the province of British Columbia is doing a fantastic job and the gov managers of this province have a true opengov mindset and vision, whereas nobody knows what the opengov declaration of the federal Canadian government means (officials probably don’t know themselves). Democracy Watch said last week that they do a lot of talking and no action (dragging of the feet). See Democracy watchdog, Opposition say Tory open government plan falls short; Critics says openness plan falls short)

The Open Government Partnership, jointly launched last September by USA and Brazil, has attracted an impressive number of countries. More than 45 States from around the world have signed this opengov declaration, including 16 countries members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (that’s 37% of the total number of OGP members), except for the main Francophone countries managing OIF (Quebec and France). However, less than 10 (of the total amount of members) have published their intentions, or plans of opengov development.  By signing the OGP declaration, members have agreed to be evaluated, which means that in the middle run, their is hope that they eventually get to set up experimental projects and atttempts at more transparency, participation and democracy.

What the main Francophone countries like Quebec and France ‘reject’ the OGP eludes me. They also rejected the Open Goverment and Francophonie project proposed to them by Government in the Lab (ie John F Moore and myself), and which was designed to fit Francophonie’s needs. If they don’t want OGP or Opengov & Francophonie, WHAT DO THEY WANT?

I think the answer to this is that the do not want any opengov. They just would like to keep their deer status quo.

Risk aversion is still very much ruling over possible openings towards another model of public management.

I might be wrong, but I believe that what we are currently doing at Edgeryders has good chances of being expanded to other divisions of CoE and reproduced by several several members of the CoE. We can see that the Edgeryders model circumvents many of the fears expressed at the GouvCamp. By changing the way governments ask questions to citizens, and by valuing their contribution (recognition as ‘citizens-solution-providers’), we avoid that criticism falls upon the platform and demonstrate an alternative solution to the problem of social disengagement.

This is what I will speak about, in my participation to SmartGouv. I will show all the opportunities that have been used by Edgeryders to innovate, and how Edgeryders circumvents outdated models with negative connotations (like NEETs and social disengagement).

This participation of Malcolm representing CoE / Edgeryders team at the GouvCamp in Paris, and my continuation of participation via the SmartGouv May 16th in Montreal (which will be streamed live on the Internet), allow us to keep the Edgeryders prototype close to the eyes and ears of the Francophone decision makers. To be frank with you, although I think that there is not much that can get into their closed off bubble (of ideas), since it is apparent that they are locked in their behavior, I believe that we must continue to be present and keep the discussions alive with this sphere. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that people with broader visions are maintained in relations with these groups.

John F Moore said last week (on Twitter) that the role of the CoE / Edgeryders is very important for the development of opengov around the world.

'With some clear exceptions I think (Francophone) leaders and citizens do not understand open government yet... @Edgeryders helping #opengov' (https://twitter.com/#!/JohnFMoore/status/190810286012383232), wrote JohnFMoore.

This report introduced at Démocratie ouverte

For your information, I introduced this mission report at Démocratie ouverte. Since this we-blog is 100% francophone, I included the link to here, with the mention that this report was written in English.