The Importance Of Being Vulgar

In French, there’s a great word for a person who popularizes ideas: vulgarisateur. A vulgarizer. It comes from the latin vulgo, “to spread among the multitude.” This is what events like TED and MiT EmTech Digital are all about — spreading ideas.

But during the final afternoon of EmTech today, Jennifer Pahlka, CEO of Code for America gave vulgarization of big data an entirely new depth. Her message was “government for the people by the people in the 21st century”. And then she listed examples of citizen projects like BlightStatus, a site that lets New Orleans citizens know the status of blighted properties as the city continues to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

That’s not just spreading ideas, but enabling action.

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