Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice

It’s The Consumer, Stupid!

This book is comprised of 34 essays written by thought leaders in both technology and government who are passionate about open data. The authors argue the case for “openness” in government and offer best practices and examples (several case studies included at the end as well) for building, supporting and evangelizing Open Platforms in government.

With the clout of Social Networks and hacker communities, the idea of being “open” isn’t as radical as it used to be several years ago, and the book clearly capitalizes on that. Almost all successful companies have open APIs today. These companies realize that it is “data accessibility” that will invariably create value for the consumer–and their business.

So why can’t governments do the same? The book argues the case for governments to “open up” and give access to their data (e.g. documents, bills, voting records, proceedings, initiatives, …etc) so that the electorate is informed and able to fully participate in governance, which is in effect the ultimate goal of democracy.

Out of all 34 essays, Tim O’Reilly’s “Government as a Platform” offered the most comprehensive blueprint for what needs to be done to get to the next level in Open Government. He offers seven lessons, or principles, that lead to Open Platform. These aren’t government specific, which makes them even more valuable to anyone interested in the subject of Open Platform.

The seven principles are:

  1. Open Standards Spark Innovation and Growth
  2. Build a Simple System and Let It Evolve
  3. Design for Participation
  4. Learn From Your “Hackers”
  5. Data Mining Allows You To Harness Implicit Participation
  6. Lower the Barriers to Experimentation
  7. Lead by Example

The principles are pretty self-explanatory and Tim fleshes each one out with examples and guiding thoughts. I highly recommend reading those sections twice to fully understand what they require of you and your company to build a successful Open Platform.

The principle that resonated with me the most was #2. I see this all the time (I’m guilty of it sometimes too): Engineers embark on an elaborative architecture quest to build the most “awesome” or “kick ass” software that will undeniably be the best platform EVER. The only thing is they often end up with a convoluted, unmaintainable system that ends up being “legacy” in no time. Tim quotes John Gall’s Systemantics:

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 workes and cannot be make to work. You have to start over, beginning witha  working simple system.

It’s so very true.

At the end of his essay, Tim O’Reilly offers ten practical steps that government agencies can adopt to be more open. If you don’t have time to read the entire book, I strongly recommend you read his chapter.

In the end, the paramount beneficiary of Open Platforms is the Consumer. In government, the consumer is the Electorate. President Obama understood that. He is the first US President to fully embrace the Open Government movement. We saw clear signs of that during his campaign in 2008 and in the release of and

A few weeks back, I went to interview protesters at the Occupy LA encampment in downtown Los Angeles as part of my research for the new startup I co-founded, When I asked the question, “how do you think we can hold government accountable?” The overwhelming answer was, “information and transparent access to it.”

This book paves the road to open and transparent government. Now the ball is in the government’s court.

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

117478738 Crucial Lessons for Fledgeling and Mature Companies

I started reading Eric Ries's blog, "Startup Lessons Learned," back in October 2008. I was quickly impressed by his technical acumen and the simplicity of his writing. I also enjoyed the breadth of topics covered and how engaging they were.

Needless to say, I was glad to hear that he was going to distill all his knowledge into a book, and now that I read the book, I'm glad to say that he didn't disappoint.

The book defines a startup as a 1) a human institution designed to 2) create a new product/service under conditions of 3) extreme uncertainty.

Notice how the definition doesn't address the size of the venture or its backers or its origins. As long as it is a team building a product with high uncertainty, it is a startup.

The book also covers the entire life cycle of a lean startup, Figure 1.


Figure 1.
Build-Measure-Learn Feedback Loop that's at the core of the lean startup (image source)

Eric puts a huge emphasis on "validated learning" as opposed to "failure as a way of learning." He says, "a failure to deliver results is due to either a failure to plan adequately or a failure to execute properly." He's all about accountability, which is sorely lacking in so many institutions these day, with the most egregious being Wall Street.

Eric goes on to explain the principles of the lean startup with andecodotes of successes and failures in business. One of the most fascinating and very telling for me was the SnapTax story. The fact that a giant company like Intuit could spawn an innovative startup (i.e. a team + a product + high uncertainty) was a nice validation for my unsuccessful push for an R&D department within the companies at which I worked in the past. SnapTax was a team of five individuals that was given freedom to experiement while held accountable throughout the process. The results were impresssive.

If nothing else, the reader, especially those running mature companies, should pay close attention to Eric's conclusion. He stresses the points of validating assumptions, rapid testing of ideas, and most importantly, "stop wasting people's time."

I think that's the most valuable lesson in the entire book. Mature companies that continue to waste their talents' time with banal and insipid tasks are bound to lose those talents and will only be left with lazy, oftentime overpaid individuals that are too comfortable, too politically secure that they can't produce anything new or original even if they tried.

Startups are a "human institution" first and foremost. If the right team isn't in place, you do not have a startup. Nurture those talents and don't waste their time. Only then will the trappings of success adorn your business and you.

The Devil in The White City by Erik Larson

This book is about the evanescence of life, and why some men choose to fill their brief allotment of time engaging the impossible, other in the manufacture of sorrow.

– Erik Larson.

The Devil in The White City The Spirit of Entrepreneurship in America

This is a fascinating book. Yes it is a great read full of suspenseful moments, and at times horrific details, of the murders by H. H. Holmes in Chicago circa 1890s. Yes it is a great book about the Columbus World's Fair that was built in Chicago in 1893 by America's greatest architects. Yes it is entertaining and yes it is historic.

But what makes this book fascinating to me is the fact that it's a case study of entrepreneurship in America in the late 1800s.

The project at hand was the World's Fair and the man behind it was Daniel Burnham. Burnham was a successful Chicago-based architect when his firm was selected to design and manage what most thought was an impossible undertaking: build a World's Fair that makes America (and Chicago in particular) proud. Expectations were very high given the astounding success of the World's Fair in Paris a few years earlier at which the Eiffel Tower was unveiled.

Burnham was not a man with small vision. He was known for this frequent admonition:

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood.

Burnham made no little plans indeed. He built the Montauk–the first skyscraper ever.

Once built, the Montauk was so novel, so tall, it defied description by conventional means.

He was one of the most celebrated entrepreneurs of his time and this book is about how he managed to take on something so ambitious, so impossible, and made it a reality.

Burnham had to deal with government bureaucracy, inflated egos, unexpected setbacks, budgetary issues, amongst other things. Sounds familiar?

The Burnham story is a testament to the American innovative spirit. It's also an inspiration to all entrepreneurs and those who "choose to fill their brief allotment of time engaging the impossible."

Are you one of those lucky few? Find out if you got what it takes. Read this book.

Illustration: Google+ and The “Actionable” Social Web

This is a followup to my previous post on Google+. Here's a very simple illustration that explains what I mean by the "actionable" social web:

The image below shows a post shared by Steven Levy on Google+. The post talks about a book he recently wrote called, "In The Plex."

BeforeThat's all good, except, that post could be so much better if it allowed Levy's followers to actually buy the book right there and then. This post could be enhanced as follows:

AfterDo you see the Amazon "Add to Cart" button below the post's description?

Now that's a much more meaningful post to people interested in the book. Now they have the option to buy it without leaving Google+.

Before Google+ came out, I was hoping that Facebook would do something like this. But here is why I think Google can easily succeed in making the "actionable" social web possible:

  1. Google understands data: unlike Facebook, Google's bread and butter is understanding data on the web for ranking and relevancy.
  2. Google is pushing for structured data through With website getting more structured, the more accurate the understanding of their content becomes.
  3. Sparks: You can follow a particular interest on Google+ by creating a Spark.

The questions now becomes this: when will be see enhanced, "actionable" posts like the one below on Google+?

After2I hope the answer is: very soon!

Relevancy and The Future of User Experience on Facebook

Gs-450h Last summer, I had a friend over for dinner. When he got to my house, he pulled into the driveway in a brand new Lexus GS 450 Hybrid. I congratulated him on his new purchase and told him that I was looking to lease the same car next year when my current lease was due. He had no idea. My response was, "yeah, I posted something on Facebook like a week ago about it."

Evidently, he didn't see my post.

I went on to ask him when he got the car and how much he paid for it. His story was fascinating. The way he pit dealers against each other to get the best deal possible was revelatory. He didn't step foot in one dealerships; He did it all over the phone, and ended up getting the car plus all the fees involved for below market value.

Dumbfounded, I confessed I had no idea he was such an aggressive negotiator and that I wanted him to negotiate my next car lease. His response was, "I'd love to." But then he said, "I'm surprised you didn't know about this since you're on Facebook all the time. It's all over my Facebook page."

I was surprised as well since none of these posts made it to my wall. I only saw links about real estate from him (he's a realtor,) but none about cars.

The point of my story here is this: Facebook does not recognize or elevate relevant content between friends.

It would have been awesome if Facebook somehow realized that my status update in which I mentioned I was looking to lease the GS 450h was related to my friend's posts about his purchase experience and somehow got us to connect.

But Facebook doesn't work that way (yet.)

Right now, relevant content is discovered on Facebook by chance. My ability to find relevant content to me is depending on 1) the frequency in which my friends share content and 2) the time at which the content is shared and 3) the time at which I check my wall. All three conditions have to align for me to see that one piece of content that's relevant to me.

It sucks, doesn't it? If I'm willing to sift through countless irrelevant posts from my friends, the least of my expectations is that the relevant posts are brought to the top of my wall where I can easily see them.

But how do you define "relevant?"

A Real Opportunity

Since I do work for @Edmunds, I automatically switched to "find a solution" mode. When I got into the office the next day, I talked to my colleague @HowardOgawa about my experience. After bouncing ideas off of each other, we decided to take this on as a challenge.

Our objective: Elevate Relevant Automotive Content and Conversations to Friends That Care About Them within the Facebook Ecosystem.

We decided to build a Facebook app to do this. Our app at a high level would passively listen to the stream of activities (i.e. status updates, links, checkins, photos, ..etc) coming from the app subscribers and try to mine the data for automotive relevancy. As relevant data is found, other subscribers are notified. Subscribers would also get to indicate some of their friends as "auto experts," which in turn will render automotive content coming from those individuals even more relevant to that user (granted they subscribe to our app, of course.)

Soon after we started looking at the data in a user's Open Graph, we realized that we couldn't mine that data efficiently. Something was missing from the structured data. As we dug deeper, we were convinced that for the data to be meaningful for us, it had to be segmented or categorized.

Content Segmentation and Relevancy

It's hard to determine whether a link a user shares on his/her wall is a link to an article, a YouTube video, a Flickr image or an audio file. The type property of the link object in the Open Graph always returns "link." Sure we have access to the optional message the user attaches to the link and the description that is captured with the link, but that isn't enough to determine the type of that link, and most importantly, the category into which the content of the link falls.

Howard and I went back to the drawing board. It was pretty clear to us at this point that in order to truly recognize relevant content on Facebook, the Facebook structured data had to include segmentation or category.

A shared YouTube link about the President giving a speech in Egypt should be categorically distinguished from a shared YouTube link about Arcade Fire rocking out at The Hollywood Bowl. The former falls under "politics" and the latter under "music."

When that segmentation is embedded into the Open Graph, relevancy becomes much easier to discern and users can specify what content they care about from what friends. I'm sure many of my friends on Facebook would rather see less of my political posts and more of my entertainment ones. With segmentation, they will have that choice.

Facebook Committed to Relevancy

About three weeks ago, a Facebook spokesperson was quoted in a New York Times article saying, "We’re always looking for better ways to help people discover the most relevant content on Facebook…"

This was great news to me! As a Facebook user, this would help me a whole lot. But according to the article, the approach that Facebook is taking won't help me in my particular use case. The same questions remain unanswered: How will I be able to see relevant posts from my friends? How can I specify what specific topics I trust which specific friends with? How can I ensure that my wall is 80% relevant to my real life needs?

Potential Solution:

Schema Interestingly enough, around the time the Facebook story broke, TechCrunch reported that Google, Yahoo and Bing were collaborating on a structured data initiative, or The goal of this initiative is to help websites optimize their HTML and crawlable data structures to make their content more accurately searchable.

The question here is, why isn't Facebook working with these companies on this initiative?! Facebook already has the social sentiment component that all three of these companies lack. All it needs now is to ensure that the content people share to their wall is meaningful and structured, which in turn will help with the relevancy goal and will help me find the content I really care about.

Imagine if Amazon uses the right semantic tags to describe items on their pages. When users share an Amazon link on Facebook, it's no longer just a "link." It's now a "link to a book called ABC by author XYZ and it's currently listed for $xx." This granularity adds meaning to the "link." Meaning that is translated to metadata that algorithms can computer, manipulate and correlate, all of which can easily produce true relevancy.

The Real Business Potential

Creating a relevant experience on Facebook is great and I'm pretty sure Facebook will get there one day. But there's a potential here to create an experience that far surpasses that. An experience that's not only great, but awesome.

Facebook knows how to do social very well and its objective is to keep users on its platform for as long as possible. But to do that, showing relevant content isn't enough. They need to think about creating a user experience that is detailed, localized and actionable. But in order to do that, they would need to partner with subject matter experts in each content segment (e.g. travel, retail, automotive, finance, …etc) to provide the missing data points that will enhance the relevant experience Facebook is building and make it detailed, localized and actionable.

What do I mean by detailed, localized and actionable? Here's an example:

Mary just read a review of "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes on She decides to share that review with her girlfriends on Facebook and she does.

What Mary doesn't know is that's content is semantically structured which allows Facebook to understand what the content of this link is all about. Also, Mary doesn't know that Facebook uses's APIs to enhance the experience for Mary's friends by offering them more detail about the book (i.e. price) and locality (i.e. availability at Borders down the street) and a call to action (i.e. Amazon buy button.) All of which is customized to each friend as they see Mary's post on their wall.

The next day, Kirstin, one of Mary's Book Club friends and Facebook friend, logs on to her Facebook. Kirstin has previously indicated in her Facebook preferences that Mary was a good source for literary/readying content. As a result, Mary's book link is now at the top of Kirstin's wall since it's a piece of content that is likely relevant to her. Kirstin is so compelled by the review she goes ahead a buys the book, by clicking on the Amazon link attached to the post and without ever leaving Facebook!

This could be applied to any segment. Facebook can partner with @Kayak to allow users to find travel deals to Heathrow when reading a link about London. Facebook can partner with @Edmunds to allow users to see the price of a vehicle and contact dealers nearby when watching a YouTube video about Toyota Prius.

The possibilities are endless.

What I'm talking about here could be huge. Google, Yahoo and Bing can get the structured data, but they don't have the social sentiment. Facebook has that, but what they need to do now is ensure the content shared on the platform is structured. Once that's accomplished, partner up with subject matter experts in every segment and use their APIs to enhance the content.

The resulting experience is not only social, personal and timely; it's relevant and actionable.

When a simple Facebook search returns all the relevant content that friends (and all of Facebook users when privacy allows) are sharing in realtime with specific calls to action that meaningfully transition the online experience to an offline transaction, why bother go somewhere else?

Does this make sense? Am I missing something? I'd love to hear what you think. You can leave a comment here or find me on Twitter at @ielshareef

The Inspire Conference: Themes, Takeaways and Why I Care

I was lucky enough to be at the inaugural Inspire Conference that took place in London earlier this week. Over two days, some of the most influential and inspiring experts in technology, entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity (many of whom spoke at TED many times,) took to the stage and attempted to inspire the audience.

And inspire they did.

In this post, I'll cover my experience in three parts: Main Themes, Takeaways and Why Do I Care.


There were four main themes that stood out for me at this conference: Social Entrepreneurship, Innovation in Emerging Markets, Simplicity, and Gamification.

Social Entrepreneurship

The vast majority of the speakers advocated the use of innovation and tech talent to promote a better world. "Social Entrepreneurship" was definitely a strong theme here.

There was a dedicated panel on "the next generation of change in society," in which Shakil Khan of Spotify relayed a story of a little boy in Africa that when asked what can Khan do for or give him answered:

I want your empty water bottle so I can pick up runoff water from the street on my long walk to school. All the boys have bottles, but I don't.

The story's profound impact was palpable in the room. It succeeded in putting things into perspective and in giving the audience a sense of what social entrepreneurship could do.

Iris Lapinski of Apps for Good. There was also the great work done by Iris Lapinski of Apps for Good. The work her company does is absolutely inspiring. She made a plea to all the innovators in the audience to think about what their efforts bring to society and how they could do better.

Then there was Ushahihi. The African startup co-founded by Erik Hersman is truly "changing the world, one map at a time." The idea came out of a need to give voice to Kenyans during their elections and ended up getting used during the Haiti Relief effort, BP Oil Spil, the Arab Spring and the Libyan crisis.

Ushahidi's simplicity is astounding. It's a mashup: text messages + geolocation + Google Maps = Ushahidi. It's a platform that could be and has been used for anything. Someone in the audience tweeted that Ushahidi is perfect for neighborhood watches. I tweeted back, "great idea!" The power of the simple platform was undeniable.

My favorite talk on "social entrepreneurship" was by Ann Cotton of CamFed International. She talked about "building a governance model around values." She's not only a great storyteller, but her passion and conviction about giving an opportunity to those that are excluded from it by way of gender, race, nationality, color or socioeconomic status shone bright on stage.

She relayed a story about a Zimbabwean girl whose precocity, self-confidence and intellect were noted during a meeting with a CamFed board member, who asked the girl after being impressed by her wits, "what do you want to do when you grow up?" She answered back with humble confidence, "I want to be a lawyer." He assured her, "you will make an exceptional lawyer."

That girl would have been pregnant at 12 and fighting to survive had she not been in the care of CamFed.

Jolitics, a political networking site, is another example of smart people getting together to try to disrupt the world for the good of the world.

These are just some of the highlights that stressed the importance of use our talents to make the world a better place.

Innovation in Emerging Markets

Maybe the reason this stood out for me as a theme was the fact that we don't see much of it in the States. As I mentioned earlier, Ushahidi is an African innovation that has and continues to play a critical role in empowering people all over the world, including some in the Western world. Such innovation is another testament to the "increasing flatness of our world," a US Government spokeswoman said in a clip played on stage.

There was also talk about impressive Indian innovation in Cricket, Consumer Products and Space (yes, Space!) Putting the consumer first, Indian entrepreneurs are innovating ways to deliver products to people in ways that fit their lifestyles and needs. Selling cheap, just-in-time consumable goods was one of those ways to penetrate a market that traditionally wasn't consuming much.


Alex Ljung Simple is intuitive. Simple is easy, and Simple is the key to lasting innovation. This message was evident in Alex Ljung talk about SoundCloud and the power of the "REC" button. Also, Ushahidi was all about simplicity.

Jolitics' Michael Birch talked a bit about limiting users to 140 character to express their proposals on the site. That proven simplicity has worked well for Twitter and Birch is betting on it working for Jolitics.


Using game theory in business is something that's been talked about often lately. Gabe Zichermann is a major advocate of Gamification and the man behind the Gamification Submit. He wasnt at the conference but you should check out one of his talks when you get a chance; he's a very effective speaker.

Back to the conference 🙂

Tom Chatfield, a TED veteran, spoke at the conference about "predicting the next innovation cycle via play and leisure." He made an excellent point that was later indirectly corroborated by Aza Raskin: people spend most of their time "playing" because an essential part of playing is having a feedback loop that in turn releases dopamine in their bodies and make them feel good about themselves.

The reason games are engaging is because of that feedback loop. People spend thousands of hours on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare because these experiences offer them a feedback loop that's satisfying. It's the unexpected "like" or "comment" you get on your status updates on Facebook. It's also the chance of someone mentioning you on Twitter or retweeting one of your tweets. It's the chance to unlock an unknown badge on foursquare and see your name on a leaderboard.

All these are examples of a reward system that effectively releases dopamine in the consumer's body. That effect makes people come back in search for that hit of dopamine again and again and again.

Raskin is attempting to find that feedback loop in the healthcare vertical in order to disrupt it.


There were countless takeaways at this conference, but a few stayed with me:

  • Transparency is key to all successful business ventures: this point has been talked about in Open Leadership by Charlene Li and Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson. Transparency isn't only good for business and shows integrity. It's now expected by the consumer.
  • If you need to explain to the user how to use your product, you have done someone wrong: Simplicity is what made Twitter take off: 140 characters. That's it. A lasting innovation is a simple innovation.
  •  Value is subjective, relative and contextual: Rory Sutherland's talk about Behavioral Economics was a great eye opener for me. Every business should ask themselves this question: what's the value of my offering and why should anyone care.
  • We make up our attitudes to explain our actions: Another one of Rory's insights. You want to change someone's attitude toward your brand? Change the actions they make in the context of your brand.
  • Feedback Loop can make or break your business: keeping page load times low makes consumers happy. Increase page load times and no one visits your site in time. China has artificially slowed down certain sites like Facebook to make people hate to be on them and eventually abandon them. It's more effective than blocking the site all together in which case the consumer will want it even more and will find ways to get access to it.
  • Don't think outside the box. Find the right box and think within it: a great insight from Raskin about identifying the "right" problem before jumping into solving a problem that's in your head. When I asked him about his thoughts on Design Thinking, he said, "Design Thinking is stepping back and trying to identify the right problem." Once that problem is identified, figure out the constraints you need to operate within to resolve that problem. That's your box.
  • If you're not disrupting, you are iterating. If you're iterating, you will be disrupted: a profound takeaway that made me think hard about what we do everyday. Apple's first iPhone disrupted the mobile industry. All the iPhones that followed iterated on top of that first disruption. Will Apple be disrupted in the phone space? How many site redesigns, mobile apps, Facebook apps, and so on do we need to create to realize that we are only iterating and not disrupting. It's also important to remember that disruption doesn't have to be something so complicated. Ushahidi is a mashup service and it's very disruptive. Twitter is the same thing.
  • We need to fit technology into our lives, not the other way around: Oblong's g-speak disruptive innovation that was featured in Minority Report is a perfect example of that. We are tactile beings, therefore, pixels should be virtually tactile as well.
  • Empathy leads to Success: Rory Sutherland's observation that most of Al-Qaeda's masterminds hold an engineering degree was mind-blowing. Most engineers aren't empathetic, he reasons, which means that most engineers aren't capable of understanding how to release dopamine in the consumer. Behavioral economists and cognitive psychologists or just a smart empathetic people in your company can do that with ease and a smile.
  • Persistence is more important than passion: That's why most startups have at least two co-founders: the crazy idea guy/gal who's fired up about ideas all the time and the man/woman that keeps them focused, engaged and persistent. I know first hand how to be both. I get it.
  • The Future is in Disruption: Future business models are based on transparency, P2P, offline to online. The future isn't about iterating. It's about disrupting.
  • Data needs to be computable: Conrad Woldram's talk was by far one of the most impressive at the conference. He unveiled CDF (Computable Data Format) which I think will change information sharing and research.
  • Angry Bird and The Adjacent Possible: Peter Vesterbacka, founder of Angry Birds, developed games in Java for years but it wasn't until the iPhone came out that he got his break. Steven Johnson talks about that concept in his book "Where Good Ideas Come From." He calls it the Adjacent Possible. He uses YouTube as an example: if YouTube was created in 1999, it would have failed miserably. The reason it was a huge success in 2005 was because broadband connections were common, consumers expected to consume videos on the Internet and the fact that consumers had the ability to shoot and upload their own videos. All these factors are called, the "adjacent possible."


I have started to develop a passion for Open Government after hearing Tim O'Reilly's keynote at the Velocity Conference in 2009. Empowering the electorate is a field ripe for disruption. Jolitics and Ushahidi are admirable efforts, but more needs to be done. The taxpayer, the voter is in desperate need for some dopamine love! 

Social entrepreneurship doesn't have to be at odds with commercial entrepreneurship. I believe they can compliment each other, which in the end will only increase the dopamine levels for everyone involved.

Also the distinction between disruption and iteration, which Tim Wu talks about in his Master Switch book, made me think deeply about what I do everyday. Most companies don't articulate a grand goal or unwilling to take meaningful risks to achieve it. Therefore we end up iterating instead of really disrupting. How do you break out of that?

I was watching Jack Welch last night on CNN talking about the importance of a "grand vision." I think a grand vision that's well articulated and communicated passionately to everyone in the company can only be a disruptive vision.

Disruption isn't going to come from engineering or product people. Disruption will be brought on by thought leaders that are 1) empathetic and 2) are able to inspire others. Those thought leaders may happen to be engineers or product managers, but they could also be anyone in the company.

It's not about the technology. It's about the vision. And vision is what I care about. If you can't dream it, it won't happen.

Thank you all for inspiring me. I'll see you next year!

Foreigners Attending US Grad Schools Way Down: Wake Up, Xenophobes

Oh no. This is not good. Will America still lead if it continues to stem the flow of raw, ambitious and hungry foreign talent? The answer is NO.

What’s really sad is that instead of stopping the illegal, poor masses flooding this country every day, setting us back culturally and economically, we’re keeping out the educated, smart guys who can actually lift us out of the state of stagnation in which we’ve been bogged down for so long.

Foreigners Attending US Grad Schools Way Down: Wake Up, Xenophobes

It’s happening: Lou Dobbs’ dream come true and Silicon Valley’s worst nightmare. We’re already seeing the reverse brain drain as smart immigrants take their US educations and experience building companies and creating technology back to their home countries.  But now, xenophobia and the lack of any sensible H-1B visa policy is keeping the world’s brightest minds from coming to the U.S. in the first place.

U.S. grad school admissions for would-be international students plummeted this year, according to the Council of Graduate Schools—the first decline in five years.  The decline was 3% on average, thanks to increases from China and the Middle East, but some countries saw double-digit declines in interest in a U.S. education. Applicants from India and South Korea fell 12% and 9% respectively—with students turning their sights on schools in Asia and Europe instead.