Kindle Book 43. Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice by by Daniel Lathrop, Laurel Ruma.
I read this mostly because of the Tim O'Reilly Gov 2.0 essay, which is very good. And contains all sorts of useful ideas for the work at GDS.
"In one of the early classics of software engineering, Systemantics, John Gall wrote: “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work. You have to start over beginning with a working simple system.”
"Designing simple systems is one of the great challenges of Government 2.0. It means the end of grand, feature-filled programs, and their replacement by minimal services extensible by others."
"Each of those pieces that make up the e-commerce platform are actually separate services. Whether it’s Sales Rank, or Listmania, or Recommendations, all of those are separate services. If you hit one of Amazon’s pages, it goes out to between 250 and 300 services to build that page. It’s not just an architectural model, it’s also organizational. Each service has a team associated with it that takes the reliability of that service and is responsible for the innovation of that service…. [W]e found that a lot of those teams were spending their time on the same kind of things. In essence, they were all spending time on managing infrastructure, and that was a byproduct of the organization that we had chosen, which was very decentralized. So…we decided to go to a shared-services platform and that became the infrastructure services platform that we now know in the outside world as AWS [Amazon Web Services]."
"Open source software projects like Linux and open systems like the Internet work not because there’s a central board of approval making sure that all the pieces fit together but because the original designers of the system laid down clear rules for cooperation and interoperability"
"Being a platform provider means government stripped down to the essentials. A platform provider builds essential infrastructure, creates core applications that demonstrate the power of the platform and inspire outside developers to push the platform even further, and enforces “rules of the road” that ensure that applications work well together."
"When Microsoft introduced Microsoft Windows, it didn’t just introduce the platform; it introduced two applications, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, that showed off the ease of use that came with graphical user interfaces. When Apple introduced the iPhone, it didn’t even introduce the platform until its second year. First, it built a device with remarkable new features and a suite of applications that showed off their power."