Oaklanders have always had a fierce penchant for community organizing. But until very recently, "grassroots activism" didn't exactly conjure up the image of a bunch of self-described data nerds with their laptops in tow talking about code. But venture out to Oakland City Hall on most Tuesdays nights and you'll find Open Oakland, a group of self-described "civic hackers" intent on using government data and technology to create better ways of engaging citizens. Since it started last August, the group has developed an app to monitor the conditions of neighborhood storm drains, an Oakland Wiki page, a vacant- and abandoned-property map, and an interactive version of the City of Oakland's 2013-15 budget. While still in the early phase of their project, the hackers have a big ambition: to revolutionize the way citizens interact with government. That's as worthy a goal as any other cause.
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