More on my White House adventure.

I mentioned in June that I’d gotten an award from the White House. Now they’re promoting it on their website. On the “Champions of Change” site—that’s the award that I got—they’re featuring the sixteen of us who received awards on that occasion, all in the realm of open data technology. I was in awfully good company, rather outclassed by most of the other folks, all of whom you can read about on that site. The link to information about me currently goes to Omar Epps’ entry (a mistake that, I assure you, is not often made), but my entry is linked to from elsewhere, luckily. There’s even a brief video interview with me, which I find excruciating to watch, but one can do so. (Something about being interviewed on video makes me think that I should probably blink a lot. Somewhere in my reptile brain, something is saying “you should blink a lot—it’ll make you look smart!” Instead, it makes me look simultaneously flirtatious and convulsive.)

Perhaps my favorite bit is being mentioned in a blog entry today by US CTO Aneesh Chopra, along with two other folks from my award group:

Waldo Jaquith used his free time to facilitate a more open government. Despite long hours at his day job, Waldo found the time to launch Richmond Sunlight, a volunteer-run site that keeps track of the Virginia legislature, including manually uploading hundreds of hours of CSPAN-inspired video of floor speeches, tagging relevant information on bills and committee votes, and inviting the public to comment on any particular legislation. He solicits feedback, introduces new products and services, and encourages others to participate. In short, he embodies the spirit that drives the Internet economy – “rough consensus, running code.”


Leigh, Waldo and David are part of a growing network of open innovators tapping into (or contributing to) government data that is both “human-friendly” (you can find what you need), and “computer-friendly” so that entrepreneurs can develop applications that both solve big problems and create jobs in an increasingly competitive economy. I’m confident this growing band of app-developing brothers and sisters will help us invent our way to a clean energy economy, achieve a “quantum leap” in learning outcomes, and strengthen America’s manufacturing sector. To support them, I’ve directed technology and innovation leaders across the federal government to learn from these best practices and scale what works.

I can feel all of this receding into memory, given the title of The Story about the Time I Went to the White House and Won an Award to be hauled out and recited at dinner parties, making my wife roll her eyes as the years go by. It was fun.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

6 replies on “More on my White House adventure.”

  1. I’ve been spreading the word amongst the old clan as well, since we knew you when. I’m so proud of you! I promise to remain a cheerleader about this one, you done GOOD, homeboy. Onward and upward.

  2. Hooray! What wonderful news, Waldo!

    The video is NOT excruciating at all. It did make me think about how hard it would be for me to follow legislation related to higher ed in another state. You have spoiled us with Richmond Sunlight!

  3. I hear your excellent work in raising chickens is up for recognition by the Department of Agriculture ;)

  4. I’m one of those “technology and innovation leaders across the federal government” who Mr. Kundra directed “to learn from these best practices and scale what works.” Really, he did – to my face – and with a deadline. Now, I’ve been doing IT for more than 20 years. I’ve done it in small companies, in Fortune 100 companies, and now for Uncle Sam. I know good tech when I see it and love being part of creating it. Heck, I even read this blog.

    But his “direction” came with no resources, no relief from the mind-numbing bureaucracy that employs both of us, no authority with my bosses, and no chance of going anywhere. And that’s really frustrating. Innovation that can survive antiquated infrastructure, inadequate bandwidth, draconian infosec requirements, ADA compliance, labor union approval, and underpaid and entrenched employees — now *that* would be cool.

  5. But his “direction” came with no resources, no relief from the mind-numbing bureaucracy that employs both of us, no authority with my bosses, and no chance of going anywhere. And that’s really frustrating.

    I’m sure that’d be frustrating! In my experience with state government, there are lots of bright, capable people working in the larger field of IT, people with visions for open government technology that are a whole lot more ambitious than anything I have in mind. But, as you say, there are often systemic problems that reinforce the notion that these things just aren’t going to happen. Grand proposals have to be followed up with the real work of the systemic change that can make them happen.

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