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Malamud’s radical plan to “open source America’s operating system”

Carl Malamud is at it again, this time shaking things up with the Obama transition team over at change.gov. He’s submitted a letter to the “Department of Transparency” with 5 proposals for making government information more accessible to the public, thereby making government processes and workings more transparent. His proposals can be boiled down to: 1) make GPO “products” like the Congressional Record, Federal Register, US Code, etc immediately available online in bulk and with historical coverage; 2) create a .gov cloud; 3) wire for video all US Government hearing rooms; 4) train people in the art of both traditional and digital publishing and 5) get rural America access to broadband aka “internetification.”

That takes care of the creation of and access to digital government information — the bulk of the issues with which FGI is concerned. There’s just one piece missing in Malamud’s ingenious plan: preservation. The Library of the USA needs to include actual libraries in the process.

I’m not faulting the plan, because I really think it’s far-reaching and radically elegant in its simplicity — not to mention that malamud’s M.O. has always been about access, “open sourcing America’s operating system.” And since the Obama transition team is increasingly talking about a “21st century New Deal” that includes a call for a huge job training program combined with an agenda of ethical and transparent government, this is a plan with real legs.

For the plan to work though, libraries and librarians will need to step up to the challenge. We’ll need to work closely with GPO and each other and collaborate on the building of digital infrastructures.

Stay tuned. This is getting interesting!

The Honorable Office of the President-Elect
Attn: Department of Transparency
Washington, D.C. 20270


Pre the procedures and policies propounded by the Office of the President-Elect, Public.Resource.Org is pleased to provide for publication and posting the following policy papers and proposals which we have previously shared with your staff:

REBOOTING .GOV. How the Government Printing Office can spearhead a revolution in governmental affairs.

FEDFLIX. Government videos are an essential national resource for vocational and safety training and can also help form a public domain stock footage library, a common resource for the YouTube and remix era.

THE LIBRARY OF THE U.S.A. A book series and public works job program to create an archival series of curated documents drawn from our cultural institutions, with full-quality masters of the books and research materials made available for other publishers to draw on. The program would employ the GPO master printers and would recruit writers, archivists, artists, and other creative workers through a national call for participation.

THE UNITED STATES PUBLISHING ACADEMY. GPO should expand current training programs such as the Institute for Federal Printing and combine them with current workforce development efforts to create a national academy similar to the National Mine Academy and the National Fire Academy, training its own workforce, the government, and the local schools in the art, craft, and science of publishing.

THE RURAL INTERNETIFICATION ADMINISTRATION. Repurposing the Amateur Radio League, modifying spectrum policy, and injecting capital into rural coops can bring high-speed broadband to 98% of rural Americans just as the Rural Electrification Administration did in the last century.

All submissions are in the public domain and you may feel free to remix or mashup the ideas as you so wish.

Respectfully yours,

Carl Malamud
President & CEO

[Thanks for the tweet John Wonderlich!]

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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