Buckeye Interactive at The White House

Last week I was invited to return to the White House for the second annual National Day of Civic Hacking Hackathon. In all, there were just over a dozen developers (compared with last year’s 30-or-so) from organizations like Change.org, Care2, Microsoft, and more.

Before the afternoon demos, we got to hear from Deputy CIO Karen Britton (a.k.a. “The Woman Who Puts The Blackberry in the President’s Hand”) on the importance of open data and private citizens getting involved with government, then the White House team shared the following words of encouragement from President Obama:

For my part of the hackathon, I’ve upgraded the We The People WordPress plugin that Buckeye Interactive released for last year’s hackathon to include the ability to sign embedded petitions through the plugin. Not content to simply update the plugin, we also built Petition The People, a Laravel application that enables advocacy groups and organizations to bundle We The People petitions into campaigns, providing a single URL that could be shared across social media and/or loaded on a tablet to collect signatures from constituents. Both projects will be formally released when the write API becomes public (expected within the next few months), but the source is available now on Buckeye Interactive GitHub page.

Hackathon participants standing outside the entrance to the West Wing
We’re just standing outside the entrance to the West Wing. You know, no biggie.

Other projects out of the hackathon included a slick Windows 8 application by a team of Microsoft Developers, integrations with other petition platforms (namely, Change.org and Care2), one-click signing via Blue State Digital, and a cool piece of middleware by Simple Information‘s Chief Engineer Nick Hepner (a former White House developer) that caches petition data in the event that the API goes down.

We’re looking forward to the write API going live so we can release some of the cool things we’ve built. If you’d like to contribute to the development of these open source projects, please hit us up on GitHub as the README documents for both repositories have sections on contributing and our goals for the software. You can learn more about the We The People API on the We The People developers page or other open government data efforts on Data.gov.