Building Better Civil Solutions with Agile Government

Modern technology has dramatically increased the pace of software application development. Within hours a single person can now conceive, create and distribute an app to millions of people. Thanks to the global internet, access and updating of these apps occurs automatically and constantly. Products can be prototyped, measured, improved and updated many times a day. […]

So you want to fly spacecraft?

Today’s landing of a spacecraft on a comet is truly a stupendous engineering feat. ESA Rosetta spent 5 years, including three flybys of Earth and one of Mars in order to slingshot in order to land a 3-ton machine on a 4-km round rock moving at 135,000 km/hour. (meaning that the comet moves ten times it’s entire length every […]

Professional Civic Engineering

“Unruly Nature” Roads are particular engineering feat that deeply affect our regular lives yet pass by largely unnoticed. So effectively designed and implemented, we typically only notice them through relative minor, but annoying, failures such as potholes or flooding. Periodically, a major catastrophe reminds us the nature and importance of these infrastructure components and the […]

Desire Paths to Open Data

Last week I made a quick statement sharing my concern for civic organizations promoting ETL – Extract Transform and Load – of open data instead of developing APIs. I felt it warranted a more thorough response than the terseness of microbursts. Desire Lines and Road Surfaces Walk through most parks and any college campus you will quickly […]

WIAD DC Data Visualization panel

This weekend I participated in a fun panel on Data Visualization as part of World Information Architecture Day in DC. The moderator was Sean Gonzalez from Data Community DC and included from Amy Cesal from Sunlight Foundation, and Maureen Linke and Brian Price from USA Today / Gannett Digital. You can see the video here. There was a clearly interesting gap between our perspectives as storytellers […]

Bike the District

A year ago I decided to become a bike commuter. I live on the east side of Washington, DC and we just opened our new office on the edge of the Potomac river on the west side of DC. Inspired by my colleagues in Portland that constantly tout the wonders of bicycling their fair city, I believe […]

The Fourth Screen

People viscerally engage with their personal technology devices. Recent studies indicate that we spend 6.5 minutes of every hour awake with our phone, and even more time than we do with our partner. Anecdotally I have heard that we have mobile in our hand more often than we are wearing pants. Fortunately we adapt. At least in my […]

Codename Farewell or Clone at your Own Peril

Aaron and I were discussing how the web facilitates inspiration and sometimes even copying of other sites or applications. This is a positive outcome of open access that can create evolutionary improvements. However in my experience I have also seen people clone an interface where they missed the larger context of the interaction, or even worse […]