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Our mission

Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Open San Diego launches Flashlight to improve public access to government information

San Diego Citybeat’s Dave Maass is leading a project to help San Diegans obtain public records and other data from government agencies. Produced under the Open San Diego umbrella, it’s called Flashlight:

Open San Diego Flashlight is basically a big collection of bookmarks for San Diego’s enterprising community of journalists, researchers, citizen watchdogs, muckrakers and data nerds. This site contains hundreds of links to free databases, maps, records, archives and searches—each tagged and categorized for quick, convenient access.

This FishbowlLA story takes a look at Flashlight along with a similar “Fishbowl” endeavor being undertaken by the LA Times: Southern California Papers Helping Wage Public Records Transparency War.

Commenting and sharing on legislative documents

Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly & Associates) recently observed that Representative Jim Culberson (R-Texas) saw a demonstration of a product called SharedBook at the Gov 2.0 Summit and decided to use it to collect feedback from his constituents on the healthcare bill.

SharedBook is a publishing and annotation program advertised for a variety of purposes, including creation of dynamic documents:

Policy makers, nonprofits, educators, and special-interest communities can use SharedBook’s platform to allow their members or constituents to engage in an online dialogue on bills, rules, research and other important documents. Starting with highlighted excerpts from the original content, a series of comments and replies can be posted and shared with any and all interested users to facilitate a pointed and detailed discussion. The source document is locked down and the community discussion is stored and presented back as footnotes at a granular level.

My first reaction to this was that opencongress.org already provides an excellent interface for viewing and commenting on bills before Congress, including the House’s health care bill, why go to the trouble of setting it up for this one bill? The answer is that Mr. Culberson is using SharedBook because he wanted comments only from his own constituents.

Here’s the press release.

How are Government Agencies Doing with Gov 2.0?

From Mark Drapeau via O’Reilly Radar this excellent critique of government’s use of Facebook. He thinks agencies may have signed up lots of Facebook fans but they aren’t participating in the collaborative culture:

But it’s not novel and it’s not social and it’s not engaging. The execution is flawed, the tactics are questionable, the strategy is vague, and the goals are unclear. And all the government pages in the top 10 list effectively look the same. Monkey-see, monkey-do.

Read the article here.