Speaker Interview: Jason Hibbets

Jason Hibbets will be giving a presentation on "Open Source ALL The Cities" at SCALE 12X. The SCALE Team caught up with him for this brief interview.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: I've been at Red Hat for over 11 years, and I really love my work. In my current role as project manager for Opensource.com [1] and The Enterprisers Project [2], I operate as both sites' web and Drupal administrator. I am also lead community manager and content curator for Opensource.com.

In everything I do, I use my open source experience to help others. I'm a Code for America brigade captain at Code for Raleigh, which is a volunteer group of citizens looking to improve our local community through civic hacking. I'm a co-chair for CityCamp North Carolina, an annual unconference focused on bringing together government agencies, developers, technologists, journalists, and everyday citizens to solve municipal problems. And, I'm an organizer for NC Datatpalooza, an annual open data competition in North Carolina.

Last year, I decided to write a book about my open source, open government, and open data work and experience. "The foundation for an open source city" [3] outlines how to implement the open source city brand through open governments around the country.

In my spare time, I enjoy being outside -- running, biking, surfing, snowboarding, or somewhere in my garden. Over the past few years, I've been training for and running 3-4 half marathon races a year just to keep my sanity. It gives me something to focus on and strive for just for myself.

Q: You're giving a talk on "Open Source ALL the Cities." Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: I'll be highlighting the open source culture in Raleigh, NC. We have an active civic geek community, so I'll share some of the projects we've been working on. I'll also cover some open policies made by the City of Raleigh, including the Open Government Resolution and a soon-to-be released open data policy. I'll share a few nuggets from my book, "The foundation for an open source city," so that those who hear my talk can take those lessons back to their community and begin implementing strategies to encourage and build open source methodologies with their municipality.

Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: This will be my first SCALE 12X experience and my first time in Los Angeles. I've had flight connections through LAX, but I'm eager to see the area and enjoy the conference. I hear from past attendees that it's an excellent event with great attendance. I'm looking forward to sharing my open source experience with everyone and making some new friends on the West Coast. Maybe they'll be a few waves to catch too? I'll pack my wetsuit.

Q: What advice do you have for those who want to bring open source to their local government?

A: It takes work. You've got to keep your eye on the long-term vision, because it will take time. There is a lot of one-on-one time spent explaining open source, open government, and open data to elected officials and other stakeholders.

You'll need an internal advocate in the IT department. Having that evangelist is key to making progress. You'll also need a CIO with an open mind. If the CIO is not willing to embrace open source principles, I wouldn't expect much progress.

Other partnerships can also be extremely helpful. Having an active citizen group can spark the desire for open source in your local government among more people as well as put a little pressure on elected officials who may resist the open source way. Those citizens can be the lifeblood and catalysts for establishing an open source culture in your city.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A: I'm a big believer that open source is a better way. Beyond that, I'm totally bought into the Lean Start-up by Eric Ries. I highly recommend reading this book with your open source filter on. I constantly think about the most effective ways for rapid prototyping and incorporating feedback loops into my work. It's another lesson on how applying the principles used to develop open source software can be applied to other parts of our life.

[1] - http://opensource.com/
[2] - https://enterprisersproject.com/
[3] - http://theopensourcecity.com/

[SCALE Team interview by Larry Cafiero. This interview is published under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license.]