5 Questions with Remy DeCausemaker

We wanted to know more about our speaker Remy DeCausemaker so he asked him five questions about himself and his speech for TEDxBuffalo:

Tell us what you’re going to talk about at TEDxBuffalo, in five sentences or less.

As the theme is “No Permission Necessary,” I will be talking to the audience about hacking–in the old-school, noble sense–and what kinds of tools we can build with all the publicly available government data. I will speak to the evolution of the CIVX project, its adoption by the FOSS@RIT program, and its current and anticipated feature-sets. In doing so, I will briefly give some history on our lab, its research, and the Free/Open-Source Software (FOSS) Movement.

What do you hope those in the audience, and those watching online, come away with after your talk?

I want the audience to get the sense that political data is getting more accessible everyday. I want them to know people care, how much they care, and the amazing tools that they are building for the future of political discourse and public engagement. I want them to come away from the talk with web sites and resources they can use to stay abreast of political data, and a desire to utilize, contribute to, and improve those tools. I also want politicians and other public officials and employees to know that transparency and Open Data is not about scandal-mongering or mudslinging, but an opportunity for informed constituency relations.

I also want people to know there is a center of gravity for this kind of development right in their backyard (Rochester), and there are plenty of ways to get involved with our lab.

Tell us a bit about yourself–where you come from, and what you do.

I’m from a small town half-way between Rochester and Syracuse called Port Bay on the coast of Lake Ontario. We have one stop-light in town, and almost more livestock than people. I’m more activist than hacker, but for me the two are inseparable for natives of the digital realm. As a canvasser, I have knocked on doors from Buffalo to Albany and many places in between–to reduce pollution, increase recycling, and promote sustainable energy. I have been a lobbyist and legislative researcher in our State Capitol focusing on campaign finance and government reform. I spent about a year as a campaign volunteer at the Software Freedom Law Center in Manhattan, where I got to work under one of the Free Software Movement’s foremost Legal Luminaries, Eben Moglen. With his support, and the support of his staff, I was able to take my experience as a community organizer and combine it with my passion for Free/Opensource Software in the context of politics and Open Data.

After co-founding CIVX, I was asked to join the Alumni Fellowship Program at RIT’s Center for Student Innovation. About a year and a half later, I was hired as a full-time Research Associate through the Lab for Technological Literacy to oversee the FOSS@RIT campaign. My job now is to connect our staff, faculty, and students with the Free/Open-Source Software Community, and visa-versa. I blog. I write code. I architect and implement high-impact low-cost campaigns.

Who do you admire or look up to?

Eben Moglen, Stephen Jacobs, Lawrence Lessig, Hal Abelson, Ben Franklin, Carl Malamud, Luke Macken, John Resig, and my Dad.

What are some of your favorite web sites, books, movies, music that you’ve discovered recently?

Books: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.
Music: Wu-Tang Clan, Prince, Soulive.
(Wanna Check out more about Remy DeCausemaker? You can see his Bio here or check out his website)