GitHub Tutorials at #CodeFest2014

I’m in my nation’s capital on August 14 and 15 to promote our projects on the Next Policy Challenge and the Use of GitHub in Canadian Governments. While I’m there, I will be offering beginner tutorials (like, really beginner) in the use of GitHub at the third annual Web Experience Toolkit CodeFest.

GitHub 101: Setting up and navigating will start with setting up a GitHub account, and move on to follow other users, watch some projects, join an organization and create a first repo. No command line, no Git, no deep principles of distributed version control. This session is for the true GitHub beginner – but by the end of this short session, participants will have faced their (legitimate) GitHub fears and be ready to interact with their designer and developer colleagues (well, at least not feel like a total n00b).

  • the PowerPoint slide deck for GitHub 101 is available here: GitHub 101 Tutorial (deck updated August 2015)

GitHub 102: Fork this repo! is for the new GitHub user who has lurked around the edges of GitHub for a while but whose profile page still shows “0 Contributions”. Building on the previous session (GitHub 101: Setting up and navigating), this session will focus on making contributions through and interacting with other users. Participants will “fork a repo”, flag an issue, issue a pull request, and manage pull requests from other users. It will culminate in each participant creating their very-own webpage. We’ll do all of this and not even peak at the command line. This session is for the true GitHub beginner – but by the end of this short session participants will have earned some props from their designer and developer colleagues and moved towards being a regular GitHub contributor.

  • the PowerPoint slide deck for GitHub 102 is available here: GitHub 102 Tutorial (deck updated August 2015)

Follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #GitHub101 and #GitHub102


CfGS Seminar Series: At the intersection of beliefs, values, opinions, evidence and facts

This presentation, along with my co-author CfGS Sr. Research Associate Rod Dobell, featured a discussion of our paper: “At the intersection of beliefs, values, opinions, evidence and facts: can policy informatics act as an honest traffic cop?” 

WHEN: Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 10:30-noon
ROOM: University of Victoria, Sedgewick C168 (large boardroom)

Abstract: Policy informatics is an emerging sub-discipline of policy studies built on the idea that complex public policy challenges can be effectively addressed through the leveraging of computational and communication technologies that improve data collection, enhance analysis, harness knowledge in support of decision making, facilitate informed deliberation and provide mechanisms for rational collective action. At the core of the policy informatics movement are several premises, including that: information can be efficiently and effectively mobilized to support evidence-driven analysis and policy design; the objective of evidence-based analysis should be to better inform deliberation and decision making; and a new form of open, public governance that is transparent, collaborative, participatory and perceived as legitimate can be realized.

Recent research and experience seems to indicate, however: that the evaluation of evidence is strongly influenced by ones beliefs, values and attitudes; that confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, and motivated reasoning are powerful and hidden psychological forces influencing our judgment and receptivity to evidence; and that cultural identity is a strong motivator when considering evidence.

Despite the objectives of policy informatics, it appears that “facts” rarely succeed in changing the recipient’s beliefs, position or decision. If these findings are true, they would seem to undermine the founding principles of policy informatics, or at least question the relevance of policy informatics in political debate and decision making. We review the explanations of the current state of evidence-based deliberation, argumentation and decision making and propose methods for effectively informing deliberation in the context of these explanations, and suggest a recalibration of the objectives for policy informatics that better reflect the social, political and psychological underpinnings of decision making.


The slide deck for our talk is available here.

Raw video recording: 

The draft paper (to be developed further over the coming months with colleagues in the Center for Policy Informatics Lab at Arizona State University) will be available here shortly.