Don’t laugh: Code for America thinks government can be beautiful

With less than 24 hours left before a pivotal presidential election and the end of an exhausting, often maddening campaign season, you couldn’t blame attendees at GigaOM RoadMap for being a little sick of government. But Jennifer Palkha, founder and executive director of Code for America, urged those in attendance to consider how good technology design can enourage a generation to become re-engaged with politics.

“How would society be different if we felt the same way about government that we do about our iPhones (s aapl) or Android (s goog) phones?” Palkha wondered, arguing that citizens are more likely to feel involved with their local government if they don’t feel like their technology services cause more problems than they solve.

Code For America has taken on projects in New Orleans and Santa Cruz, working on things as profound as helping New Orleans residents track the status of blighted properties in their neighborhoods to encouraging Santa Cruz residents to take advantage of bike lockers that languished before a creative graphic designer took charge. “We’re trying to bring this notion of good design to government,” she said, citing a Code For America fellow who described their mission as creating “interfaces to government that are simple, beautiful, and easy to use.”

And if a sense of civic duty doesn’t move you, consider this: Federal and state government spending on IT is around $172 billion a year. Mobile video games, one of the hottest areas of the mobile development world? $10 billion.

Check out the rest of our RoadMap 2012 live coverage here, and a video recording of the session follows below: