Headlines about technology and business collaborations which sour are familiar: the well-trodden path of poor communication, broken promises, and shattered projects. Well here's a short story of collaboration between individuals (I'm one of them) from very different backgrounds who are doing something about making the Australian Federal Budget more open and accessible.
The story starts a couple of years ago when the main protagonist, Rosie Williams, created BudgetAus, Australia's first on-line search tool allowing people to easily investigate the Federal Budget figures. For the Federal Budget 2014 Rosie gathered a team. The team is diverse: there are reporters and bloggers, software engineers and designers, people with subject matter expertise and other generalists, spread across multiple continents and time zones.
To effectively collaborate we use BudgetAus as the source and/or the budget papers directly (the data.gov.au team did great work to make the most of the budget data available as CSV/Excel within 24hours), a GitHub area for detailed discussions as the BudgetAus code has been open-sourced, and a Google Hangout for discussions. A site is being constructed to link to created visualisations, solicit comment, and to help people build visualisations using BudgetAus.
This story is ongoing with us continuing to work and bouncing ideas off each other, publishing articles (such as this one) and visualising the budget. Collaboration, when it works, is a marvellous thing.