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The Federal Government Must Reimagine Its Role As An Information Provider

Here is a pre-print (not-final version) of a paper with fascinating ideas about distribution of government information:

They say that “the federal government must reimagine its role as an information provider” and more specifically, that the next administration should…

…reduce the federal role in presenting important government information to citizens. Today, government bodies consider their own websites to be a higher priority than technical infrastructures that open up their data for others to use. We argue that this understanding is a mistake. It would be preferable for government to understand providing reusable data, rather than providing websites, as the core of its online publishing responsibility.

While the paper does not address preservation and long term access explicitly, it does suggest that the government should provide a “permanent location” with a permanent URL for “each piece of government data.” It also implies (I think) that something like LOCKSS will ensure authenticity and permanent access (“As long as there is vigorous competition between third party sites, we expect most citizens will be able to ?nd a site provider they trust.”) I believe that oversimplifies the problem and relies too much on hope and not enough on a social commitment to preservation through public funding of memory organizations.

Thanks and a tip of the hat to Joshua Taubere (GovTrack.us) for pointing to this article. He describes and comments on the paper in a post on the Open House Project blog: (Government Data and the Invisible Hand June 6th, 2008 by Joshua Tauberer).

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