Carl Malamud, a digital provocateur, has been lighting fires under government bureaucrats for nearly two decades.
On Friday, the Bodega resident received two million more matchsticks to encourage U.S. governments and municipalities to innovate online.
Google awarded $2 million to Malamud's nonprofit group, Public.Resource.Org. It was one of five organizations to share $10 million in prize money awarded "for ideas to change the world."
Malamud's idea is to make government more transparent by pressuring officials to post online legal rulings, building codes and other underpinnings of American civic life in a format accessible to anyone.
"That's the raw material of our democracy," Malamud, 51, said Friday from his office in Sebastopol. "All legal materials in the United States should be available."
Currently, the amount of information placed online by governments from the federal level to city halls is inconsistent, and often in format that are not easily searched or compiled into databases.
Plus, much of the public material that is online is on sites that charge people for access, such as the federally run PACER database that charges 8-cents per page for court documents.
Malamud plans to spend some of the $2 million from Google to work with Sonoma County and local cities to get all local laws such as building codes and city ordinances online.
The money could not have come at a better time for Malamud. Public.Resource.Org was down to its last $2,000.
"I was really sucking wind," Malamud said. "This is huge. This is two years plus of financing."
Malamud has a track record of prodding governments to innovate. In 1994, he pushed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to post corporate filings online, opening the door for companies such as Google and Yahoo to create elaborate financial Web sites where people can access quarterly earnings reports.
In 2008, Malamud helped convince the state of Oregon to stop claiming copyright over its laws, meaning anyone could legally publish the material on their websites. Malamud is now pushing California officials to drop their claim of copyright over the California Code, which is a massive collection of state law. He digitally scanned a stack of the code that weighed 150 pounds, and now anyone can download the 33,000 pages from public.resource.org.
More recently he testified before Congress on how to make government more accessible in the digital age. He worked with the National Archive and others to help improve the online publication of the Federal Register. And he has put more than 4,000 government-owned movies online, attracting nearly 10 million views on Youtube.com and his site, FedFlix.
He also made an unsuccessful bid to be named Public Printer of the United States.
Malamud is the only staff employee at his nonprofit, which is located in the O'Reilly Media offices in Sebastopol. But he collaborates with tech veterans such as Tim O'Reilly and has a long-standing relationship with Google and other Internet heavyweights.
"We were confident (Public.Resource.org) would be able to use this money to make a difference," said Jamie Yood, a Google spokesman.
Google, which announced the $10 million award program s in 2008, received more than 150,000 entries from 170 countries.
With his coffers refilled, Malamud plans to use North Bay governments to establish best practices for getting local laws online.
Azolla: Did you know?
50 million years ago, the aquatic weed now blanketing parts of Spring Lake grew en masse in the Arctic Ocean, then a hot lake, and absorbed enough carbon dioxide to help cool a planet dangerously overheated by greenhouse gases.