Other than attending and speaking at them, I have never really been involved in conferences. Until this last year I had never felt the need to get out in front and organize one. Then along came Open Government and with it the opportunity for governments, particularly Canada's - at all levels - to advance the dialogue it was having with citizens...in all kinds of ways, shapes, and forms.
What I saw a year ago were a growing number of people that were truly interested in moving the needle towards public transparency. There was also a worldwide move to lead with open data that had taken root over the previous years. That is for governments to make public small, medium, and large sets of unstructured data files about all kinds of things...from bus schedules to rock formations to drug products. And there turned out to be all kinds of people who could take the data or multiple sets of data and be very creative with how they could use it.
That was great and remains so. But it was not enough. There is a much bigger opportunity out there and it centers on Open Dialogue. Open Dialogue promotes the collaboration between governments with citizens, business, other governments whether online or in person. At its core, a good Open Dialogue activity is helping to solve an important objective by empowering the participants. It might use new and creative ways to carry out that dialogue or more traditional ones. It might engage people that would that perhaps historically might not have been involved in the discussion including people from outside of Canada if their experiences and insights might help to make the discussion richer.
OPEN 2016, which the PubliVate team, along with our friends from Canada2020, have devoted hundreds of hours to put together hopes to fill a void that the conference founders saw by helping more people to understand and progress the thinking around Open Dialogue. We firmly believe that Canada has only just started to scratch the surface of what can be accomplished by working together.
We sincerely hope that that you take the time to find out about OPEN 2016, taking place on March 31 and April 1 in Ottawa and the robust discussions that are planned as well as the ambitious outcomes that have been set. It would be great to see you there.