Book introduction: The foundation for an open source city

As a preview to the book I’m working on, currently in editing, I wanted to share the introduction to my book and get some feedback from some of my potential readers. Please let me know what you think. Good, bad, what you were expecting, way off the mark. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Update: I’ve launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the book. Show your support today! Read more about the campaign.

Here goes…

The foundation for an open source city


Over the last two years, I found an interesting way to blend my passions for open source, my local Raleigh community, and civic participation. It comes in the form of open government. Along the way, I’ve found a great group of civic-minded geeks who share a similar passion and have stepped up to advocate for a more open government. My mission: to create a better citizen experience.

Today, the citizen experience for many individuals includes, but is not limited to, voting, lobbying, and complaining about “government.” In the United States, the “government” includes citizens. For the people, by the people. But we’ve just let our busy lives and many times, politics, get in the way, distract us, or turn us off.

Think about your own experiences with government. How have you been disappointed? What could be better? How could your interactions be enhanced?

Our experience with government could be so much better. We have ideas on how to improve the communities we live in or fix a part of our government that isn’t working correctly or efficiently. But do we have the tools, knowledge, time, information, or access needed to make these improvements?

Improving the citizen experience means that your interactions with government are more participatory and collaborative. And that starts with having a more transparent, open, and inviting government.

This book will explore Raleigh’s path to what I call an “open source city.” How the open government movement in Raleigh has accelerated over the last two years with the passing of an open government resolution, two successful CityCamp Raleigh events, and the forming of a Code for America brigade.

First, I will define the elements of an open source city and demonstrate how Raleigh has applied those characteristics. We’ll explore the open source culture, government policies, events, and economic development. Then we’ll also take a look at how open government is applied and some of the things I’ve learned through my travels.

This book draws on my open government experience and includes articles I’ve written and interviews conducted for—an online publication and community exploring how the principles of the open source development model are applied to disciplines such as business, education, government, and life.

I’ve been employed by Red Hat since 2003, gaining ten years of open source experience. I’ve worked on, described as a community service by Red Hat, since the project launched in January 2010. I have many roles at including project manager, community manager, contributor, moderator, and lead administrator.

This book would not be possible without Creative Commons—a set of licenses that grant copyright permissions for creative works like this. There are a number of articles and interviews originally published on, which uses the Creative Commons license, that I am republishing or drawing from in this publication.

The purpose of this book is to tell Raleigh’s open source story and inspire others not only to participate, but to run with their ideas and improve our government. I want this story to be a catalyst for more open government, open data, and citizen participation, in Raleigh and beyond.


Your feedback is welcome in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Book introduction: The foundation for an open source city

  1. Pingback: Help select my open source city book cover | blog

  2. AvatarGary Jordan

    Good introduction. It clearly outlines what you intend to write about and how you will approach the topic. Very interesting idea to explore how the open source concepts are being applied to local government.

    ‘Inviting’ is a key word. I think one of the problems with the paralysis we see in government is that people do not feel ‘invited in’ to help craft the solution. As a result they don’t fully understand the problem and they lapse into extremist views and uncompromising positions.

    I hope that open source government and increased transparency will create a more inviting atmosphere for increased participation.

    Be sure to include some examples of things that haven’t worked. Bad experiences are often good tools for learning and improving future endeavors.

    I look forward to previewing the chapters as they are released.

  3. AvatarAllisen Fischer

    I enjoyed reading your intro to see for myself what it is you have been writing about!
    Way to go! I am glad you are nearing the end of what has been years in the making.

    This last sentence needs some editing – don’t know if that is the kind of feedback you were looking for:

    will = to?

    “I want this story will be a catalyst for more open government, open data, and citizen participation, in Raleigh and beyond.”


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  5. Pingback: Book Chapter 1: What is open source? | blog

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