1. KąVeikiaValdžia.lt this week


    Emilis Dambauskas has updated me this week on few developments from Lithuania. I think we mentioned already that Emilis plans to set up Facebook fan pages for all Lithuanian MP’s. He has started this process with the first 10 pages. Initially the MP’s who have a larger amount of Facebook friends have invited those to the newly set up fan pages, so the response is good. But as long as Emilis does not have the ful set of pages ready, he will not invest in promotion – it will be easier to raise awareness about the idea once all pages are up and running. We will need to wait a little bit to see how successful the idea is.

    Secondly, he spotted in their Google Analytics site a particular regional portal driving traffic to KąVeikiaValdžia.lt. After a quick look at the regional portal, he realised that the policy feed site is basically put into the portal without any technical skill. First thing to do was to contact the site administrators and offer help in adding the policy feed to their site in a proper way, but it did raise a very interesting question. When I asked Emilis if he announced this case to his audience to make sure that other regions use the policy feed in the right way, he responded:

    “I am worried about who is going to use this info so I am not bloging about it too much”

    The worry there is the fact that before the approaching elections the opposition can use the feed to flag up that their opponents do not work as much, as the opposition representatives. What is the main worry there? Emilis respons:

    “We would not want to be associated with that.”

    So is there a need to wait? Can the openness wait for the times after the elections? These are very difficult choices, and they heavily depend on the political landscape too, I believe. But I would love to hear what others think!

  2. Happy Birthday to KąVeikiaValdžia.lt!

    One of the projects we have supported in the past, KąVeikiaValdžia.lt has celebrated its first Birthday yesterday!

    Emilis Dambauskas has sent us the below visual to remind us (and our readers) how the site looked like a year ago:


    Today, the design is simplified to the search option and links to the most popular topics, as we have explained not long time ago on our blog:


    KąVeikiaValdžia.lt has gained a lot of audience through the first year of its work, so I am really happy that the developers are sharing the starts with us (once again impressing us with the transparent approach to everything they do):


    If you go to the main site today, you will find that the current layout also contains their Facebook widget, which is something that gains on importance even more this week, as Emilis is looking at even more engagement with their current and hopefully new audiences via this particular social network. Starting next week Emilis will set up separate Facebook fan pages for activities of various Lithuanian MP’s feeding information on each of them directly from the KąVeikiaValdžia.lt policy feed. That means around 140 Facebook fan pages to administrate, so we do not know what to expect  in reality.

    Emilis wants to give Facebook users the opportunity to follow the activities of their MP’s within the social network, and provide the MP’s themselves with yet another channel to reach out to the community. People will be able to follow the updates there, MP’s will be able to add their own bits, though at this stage Emilis seems to prefer to maintain the admin rights to those pages. He will ensure the transparency of the idea by posting specific information on each of the pages explaining the process and providing the links: to the original feed from the KąVeikiaValdžia.lt site but also links to other fan pages of each MP. Each fan page will also contain a disclaimer that it is not the official Facebook presence of the MP. Initially Emilis is looking at setting up fan pages for those MP’s who already know the policy feed and are in touch with him (one of the contacted MP’s was happy about the idea).

    Considering the content of all 140 fan pages will be automated, we will have to wait and see what the actual workload and feedback to this idea will be. I am personally very excited about it and cannot wait to see first pages – I have asked Emilis to share the links with us on our open Facebook group. Feel free to join us there, but we will keep you posted on the blog as well.

    In the meantime a question to other developers – would the idea work in your country? Let us know!;)

  3. Update from Lithuania


    In Lithuania in the meantime Darius Damalakas is working on launching the beta version of parasykjiems.lt, site which was tested for the last few weeks:

    “This week we will launch the site in beta, meaning that people will be able to send emails directly to their representatives. Currently all emails were sent to our own private email box for testing purposes, but it will change this week.”

    KąVeikiaValdžia.lt Policy Feed has also experienced a small change. According to their blog, Emilis and the team decided to simplify the design of the main page after last year’s experiment:

    “It used to be KąVeikiaValdžia.lt was greeting visitors with an enormous list of newest published documents by Seimas (Parliament), Government and an assortment of Municipal press offices. This was very well indicative of the resources the database contains – more than 20 thousand of them – but it was too daunting for a first time visitors who still make a significant portion of web site traffic. The list itself wasn’t that bad – it was the original names of documents that one really needs to get used to.

    Late last year a different approach was experimented with – that of a fairly minimal front page with a prominent search field and links to preformed sample queries on the most popular topics: Presidential affairs, Ministry of Education, some municipalities and several politicians.”

    It’s great to see the team pronouncing the very essence of successful projects, something we strongly advocate too:

    “Simplicity proves itself as a good entrance to complex systems.”

    Have a look at the current design and let the developers know what you think. They ask you for feedback and even better ideas!

  4. KąVeikiaValdžia.lt – Policy Feed from Lithuania


    KąVeikiaValdžia.lt Policy Feed from Lithuania is the first project I was introduced to. It was born out of ManoValstybe previously supported by us, so we are very happy to see it growing!  Emilis Dambauskas and his collegues kicked off a very impressive plan to aggregate the news from Lithuanian government and to do so they want to use the following approach:

    • “visitors are presented with a list of new items (feed) gathered from the Parliament and Government news sources,
    • visitors can review the list, expand its items in place, filter it, subscribe to receive notifications of new items in the list; it will be considered a success if at least 100 visitors become subscribers,
    • each list item has got a separate page presenting visitors with a variety of possible actions:
      • find related context information (internal and external links),
      • express their opinion,
      • get involved in the political process.
    • information on the website is to be grouped and cross-linked according to these categories:
      • politicians and officials,
      • governmental organizations,
      • bills.
  5. all website data and some of its functionality will be available through a public API; it will be considered a success if at least one website will start using it in one year”
  6. If you check out the entire proposal (available in English here), you will see that the ultimate goal of this particular project is to increase the civic engagement in the country by presenting the work of the government, establish connection with citizens and increase their involvement in the political process. It is a rather rich document with interesting points so I hope to write more about it in the next few weeks.

    As for the project itself, the website is up and running and since their first English blog post in June, you can track how it develops. As you can see in his post, Emilis is really excited about the site, but also about the opportunity to collaborate with similar projects in the region. We will most definitely see it happening with their ParašykJiems.lt project (currently under construction here, but already mentioned on their project list) designed to replicate our WriteToThem.com website in collaboration with developers from Central and Eastern Europe.

    As for most recent developments Emilis mentioned changes to KąVeikiaValdžia.lt/PolicyFeed/ front page: “I added a list of government institutions and politicians to help people find what’s interesting without having to experiment with search technology.” Those should be mentioned fairy soon on their blog and Facebook fan page.