Digital Activism at Government Scale

Short Form


Government is huge, slow, and wasteful. You try to use its services, but they’re not doing what they were meant to. _You know_ how to make broken systems work. Join government to solve problems for everyone.

… especially under an Administration you oppose.


There’s no more powerful organization than government. It’s got everything: power, people, and money. Working inside government is a great opportunity for us, as activists, to help people at massive scale.

Right now governments all over the world are creating and staffing digital service agencies – such as USDS and 18F, where I work. We’re not just making shinier websites. We’re teaching people, steering policies, fixing services, and modernizing agencies by implementing the latest development methods:

  • Design for user needs
  • Develop software using the most effective tools
  • Use agile methods to produce better, cheaper, faster services
  • Open Source it all

Writers, researchers, designers and coders: we’re needed right now. Heed the call.


Activism, government, 18F, USDS, govtech, agile, service design, public policy, careers

Speaking experience

I spoke at Open Source Bridge 2013 on debugging better:

I've spoken at O'Reilly's ETech (2006), about Ning:
... and microformats: ) and OSCON (2011, with Alex "Skud" Bayley: ), also at FOO Camp 2005, BarCamp Palo Alto 2007, and most recently at Noisebridge's "5 Minutes Of Fame" on the topic of Winamp, which you can watch here: (starts about 18 minutes in, lasts 8 minutes)


  • Yoz Grahame

    18F, General Services Administration


    Yoz does troubleshooting, debugging, web app wrangling, legacy untangling, hand waving, architecting, listening and nodding. He’s been doing it professionally for over 20 years. He currently does it for 18F, which is a new part of the US Government that’s trying to improve how the rest of it works. The end result, we hope, will be much more usable and responsive services for everyone.

    Previously he contributed to such bizarre and frankly silly projects as Second Life, Dio, Ning, lots of Douglas Adams-related things (h2g2, Starship Titanic, and the Hitchhiker’s movie), a lean & agile consultancy called Neo Innovation, some MySociety civic-engagement tools (WriteToThem, TheyWorkForYou), The IT Crowd and Limmud. His amateur wrestling name is “Dr Henry Metzger”.


      • Title: Debug Better: 2017 Edition
      • Track: Theory
      • Room: B202/203
      • Time: 3:454:30pm
      • Excerpt:

        Debugging: the schedule destroyer, the confidence sapper, the mire in which thousands of working hours are lost every day. It’s time to stop staring at those four lines of code, desperately willing the solution to appear. This session is about the strategies that will steer you around bugs, tactics for dealing with them, and tools that can shorten a four-hour debugging session to five minutes.

      • Speakers: Yoz Grahame