With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 now on its way to Obama for his signature, the question remains about what happens next. Word is Obama will be setting the stage for his next initiative — a global fix on broken mortgages. Again, this demonstrates a clear set of scheduled (and unscheduled) events libraries of all types might use to promote a greater awareness about the implications of the soon to be enacted law (and subsequent policies and initiatives) for their communities. Recovery.gov is still aborning, profit and non-profit groups will offer, or do so now, there own web-enabled looks at the massive spending bill.
But, what strikes me as missing from these techno-centric transparency efforts is the inability to explain the politics (or the policy implications) behind the numbers. One small example — when people look at Thomas’ links to H.R. 1, they will find seven different versions of the bill (soon to be eight when the President makes it a public law on Tuesday.) No where in the Thomas web site is any of this explained. I am fully aware there are links to selected published guides produced by the House Clerk and Senate Secretary that explain the legislative process — but how many times have seen the thousand yard stare displace interest in the eyes of users as you attempt to explain the treasure hunt in locating relevant information sources. I think the basic operating program of American civic engagement is not the information technology. It’s these fundamental government information sources (laws, regulations, rules, court decisions, reports, studies, etc.) And the technology still can not deepen the necessary political and social contexts of how all these information sources relate to each other.
This one is for Daniel Cornwell –Imagine the possibilities if — somehow, someway — our several library associations were able to coordinate a national civic literacy program to enable trained and interested government information librarians to engage citizens in workshops, discussion groups, classes, and events that discuss and outline sources of information about the government’s efforts to recover from the economic crises. This is the context building (and deepening) often missing from purely technological approaches.
See you Day 26.