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As I watch and read the what is happening at the national level (presidential transition, financial crisis, two major world wars, a major meeting of the 20 largest economies in Washington, D.C.), I wonder if government/civic information librarians can learn and sustain a collective knowledge building effort that captures the added value, bibliographic structures, and shape of the policy narrative I refer to in earlier posts.
What I have in mind is modeled on the weather alerts here in the Midwest — trying to get early word out about violent weather nearby; are the various community alerts issued about missing people or crime nearby.
So, what I suggest is something that I call an Adelaide Alert (in honor of Adelaide Hasse.) The purpose of these alerts would be to put together web tools or resources that help explain and track major complicated public policy and government events. These events are so profound (and at times, predictable) that if an organized group of government information librarians can get their act together to cooperate across geographic and institutional lines, they could sustain a major reference source that would be free to anyone with access to the web. Think of it as an information grange or cooperative.
These tools would list significant official sources that discuss the event; would provide a timeline or outline of how the event came to be and what might happen; would list secondary or authoritative non-government resources. It would be updated on a regular basis and maintained by the cooperative. Yes, they could by wikis, they could be web pages, they could be whatever social software we would choose to use.
If we truly get radical, these large-scale reference cooperatives could be coming the cutting edge for preservation. In other words, for those of us so inclined, we could be sure that the important government/official sources part of the Alert are preserved in some coordinated fashion (much along the lines LOCKSS project.)
This kind of collaborative large-scale work would mean we are not reacting to our community’s need for information, but actually anticipating them — liberation might be the easy compared to sustaining the fruits of that liberty.
See you on day 67.
And Jim, thanks for the substantial response to Day 69 — I am composing a reply to be posted in the next couple of days.