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IT Everything

A witness to history in healthcare information technology.
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By Joseph Conn

Blog: Open-source, open government

8:15 am, Oct. 4

I have to give a hat tip to Facebook friend Peter Groen for pointing me to this fascinating TED lecture by technology guru Clay Shirky.

Shirky, who holds several appointments at New York University, has never limited his futuristic gaze to the confines of healthcare, but he is well known among the health IT pundit class. In 2009, Health Affairs published an article on health IT that Shirky co-authored with Dr. Carol Diamond of the Markle Foundation and a then-promising young New York public health assistant commissioner, Dr. Farzad Mostashari.

Shirky is a familiar face at TED, too. His latest lecture, recorded in June but not posted until late last month, is “How the Internet Will One Day Transform Government.”

One element of Shirky's latest TED talk focuses on a new organizational structure for managing open-source software projects that could catalyze a democratization of democracy, making governments of democracies more responsive to their citizenry and less beholden to financial interests. The Empire will strike back, of course, but Shirky didn't go there in his 18 minutes on the TED stage, maybe to leave himself an opening for a sequel.

Groen, who was born abroad and grew up a globetrotter, consistently maintains an open, outward and upward worldview. He didn't retire in 2006 when he left the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department after working there for three decades, having last served as the VA's liaison to outside agencies wanting to use its public-domain VistA electronic health-record system in their own operations. He remained a VistA apostle, but broadened his open-source perspective and outreach as an educator and a blogger at OpenHealthNews.com, a website he helped launch.

Thanks for the link, Peter.

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