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Letter to Deputy CTO Noveck: “Open Government Publications”

[UPDATE 9/23/11: It’s come to our attention that scribd, the site that hosts the document below, does not make it easy for users to download. In some instances it appears as if the user has to subscribe to scribd before they can download. So I’ve attached a copy of the document below for your free downloading pleasure. JRJ]

In early April, Michael Keller, Stanford University Librarian and my boss, had a phone conversation with Beth Simone Noveck, US deputy Chief Technology Officer for Open Government leading President Obama’s Open Government Initiative. Noveck requested a short report outlining how the digital FDLP would work.

Below is that report outlining a distributed ecosystem, or publications.gov, that “would incorporate collaborative cataloging/metadata creation, as well as shared or Peer-to-Peer (P2P) technical infrastructure in which data and technological redundancy and collective and proactive action reign.” As many of you already know, some of the pieces for a digital FDLP ecosystem are already in place. However, as our recent post, “The State of FDsys and the Future of the FDLP”, showed, some of those critical pieces are on shaky ground to say the least.

The report was forwarded to Bob Tapella and Mike Wash at GPO as well as Aneesh Chopra, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Vivek Kundra, Chief Information Officer (CIO), and US Archivist David Ferriero.

FDLP issues are now front and center to the movers and shakers in the Obama administration. But we’ll need more libraries and librarians willing to step up and pitch in to make the digital FDLP ecosystem a reality.

Digital FDLP Ecosystem

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  1. Raymond Yee says:

    Is your proposal for agency.gov/data going in the same direction as data.gov right now?

  2. jrjacobs says:

    Hi Raymond. thanks for the comment. It’s similar to data.gov where GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) (which I’d like to rename Adelaide after [w:Adelaide_Hasse]!) would serve as central repository.But it’s more than that because it’s not just agencies sending their data sets to data.gov. It’s also got similarities with Carl Malamud’s Law.gov proposal

    It’s about creating an access and preservation ecosystem where agencies publish their documents in a subdirectory agency.gov/publications — I’ve heard anecdotally that only @ 50% of agency documents ever make it into the [w:Federal Depository Library Program] (FDLP) and are therefore difficult to find and in danger of disappearing :-|. FDsys is there as a central digital repository (complete with APIs), but the ../publications directory allows for easy harvesting by GPO and others. Then libraries participate in distributed preservation activities (don’t want all govt pubs *only* on some central .gov server for lots of reasons), build local digital repositories of both .gov and non-.gov content focused on the needs of their community (and share that content out), participate in and share metadata through the whole system.

    It’s a living, breathing system where failure of any one piece does not mean failure of the entire system. And by the way it would encompass publications, data AND legal materials. And it would make the universe of govt information more findable, accessible AND more preservable for the long term.

    How’s that sound?

  3. Peggy says:

    Hello – My comments are about how the existing letter could be improved, not about the mechanics of digital depository system.

    From the letter, I gather that the two unique contributions FDLP libraries can make are 1) more reliable preservation through redundant, distributed digital copies and 2) a transparent check on government changes to (or “tampering” with) digital content. I would focus on these 2 contributions and how/why a digital FDLP is a superior model to others. (Plenty of evidence for this in the letter; I am just suggesting a different way of organizing it.) The connection of preservation to transparency is particularly important to make. Perhaps the second contribution, making tampering evident, is one beneficial aspect of preservation rather than an independent task?

    It would improve my understanding of the proposal if I had a better idea of which content is being discussed. What are ‘documents’ or ‘publications’ in the Web world? How would it differ from or complement the proposed law.gov?

    You might consider adding the selling point of FDLP librarians’ expertise with US government publishing.

    That is all :)

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