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The final report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was released on Thursday. Or as Frank Portnoy, in a NYT opinion piece today described it, three reports: “a 410-page volume signed by the commission’s six Democrats, a leaner 10-pronged dissent from three of the four Republicans, and a nearly 100-page dissent-from-the-dissent filed by Peter J. Wallison, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.”
GPO has quickly created a purl for the report (http://purl.fdlp.gov/GPO/gpo3449) which is linked to from the commission’s Web site (and already available from Marcive and embedded in my library’s catalog record). But what’s more interesting is that the main link to the commission report — http://c0182732.cdn1.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/fcic_final_report_full.pdf — is actually hosted on RackSpace, a cloud Web services company. It’s interesting not only because the commission decided to publish their report with a private company — and one not even listed at the GSA’s apps.gov portal for .gov contracting of cloud services — but that they couldn’t even spoof the url so it *looked* like it was coming from a .gov server.
This brings into question whether the commission’s report is in the public domain as it is actually hosted on a non-.gov server. I’ve collected it with the Stanford library’s EEMs tool (here’s a project briefing from fall 2010 CNI meeting brief about Everyday Electronic Materials (EEMs)). But part of the EEMs process is a workflow for managing copyright issues. I’m assuming it IS in the public domain as the work of an official US govt organ, but how would Stanford University’s general counsel (or IP lawyers in general) read this? This will no doubt be a growing and ongoing concern.
As readers know, we’ve been tracking on the wikileaks cables (and I highly recommend WikiRiver to do that!). One of the things that came up early on in this story was news that Amazon had kicked Wikileaks off of its Web servers (with Paypal and Visa later following suit). Wikileaks tweeted the following response: “If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books.”
Buried in the deluge of news about Wikileaks was this post by Dave Winer (who created WikiRiver) “US govt a big user of Amazon web services.” Turns out the US government does a large and growing amount of business with Amazon Web Services including Web and application hosting, backup and storage, and high performance computing.
Today I got a promotional email from Kay Kinton, Senior Public Relations Manager for Amazon Web Services, entitled “Amazon Web Services Year in Review.” It contained a paragraph, quoted below, that explains how their government business grew in 2010.
“Government adoption of AWS grew significantly in 2010. The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board became the first government-wide agency to migrate to a cloud-based environment when it moved Recovery.gov to AWS in March 2010. Today we have nearly 20 government agencies leveraging AWS, and the U.S. federal government continues to be one of our fastest growing customer segments. The U.S. General Services Administration awarded AWS the ability to provide government agencies with cloud services through the government’s cloud storefront, Apps.gov. Additional AWS customers include Treasury.gov, the Federal Register 2.0 at the National Archives, the openEI.org project at DoE’s National Renewable Energy Lab, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at USDA, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA. The current AWS compliance framework covers FISMA, PCI DSS Level 1, ISO 27001, SAS70 type II, and HIPAA, and we continue to seek certifications and accreditations that make it easier for government agencies to benefit from AWS. To learn more about how AWS works with the federal government, visit: http://aws.amazon.com/federal/.”
The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has a new document that addresses agencies using “cloud computing”:
- Frequently Asked Questions About Managing Federal Records In Cloud Computing Environments.
The purpose of this FAQ is to provide agency records officers with a basic overview of cloud computing, its benefits and concerns, and records management implications that agencies will need to consider when implementing cloud computing services.
Addressing records management implications associated with cloud computing, NARA notes that, “Various cloud architectures lack formal technical standards governing how data is stored and manipulated in cloud environments. This threatens the long-term trustworthiness and sustainability of the data.”
See also: NARA Addresses Cloud Record Keeping, By Elizabeth Montalbano, InformationWeek (February 22, 2010).
DocumentCloud is a new service being developed with startup funding from the James L. Knight Foundation. It sounds like an excellent service. It will be software, a Web site, and a set of open standards that will make original source documents easy to find, share, read and collaborate on, anywhere on the Web.”
I cannot help but wonder why libraries are not at the forefront of projects like this.
Started by reporters at the New York Times and ProPublica, this service will give individuals and organizations involved in original reporting mechanisms for sharing the documents they obtain and discover and making those documents available to other for new reporting and new uses.
Over two dozen organizations are working on the development of DocumentCloud, including traditional publications and news organizations such as The Atlantic, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, The Seattle Times, Thomson Reuters, Washington Post, and WNYC Radio, as well as organizations that collect and publish documents, such as The National Security Archive, ACLU National Security Project, OpenCRS, and the Sunlight Foundation,
Users will be able to search for documents by date, topic, person, location, etc. and will be able to do “document dives,” collaboratively examining large sets of documents. Think of it as a card catalog for primary source documents. DocumentCloud is not meant to be a general document hosting service, like Scribd, Docstoc or Google Docs. Our goal is to build a service that makes source documents easier to find and share regardless of where they are hosted. It is a complement to these services, and not a competitor. the goal is to make documents even easier to find on search engines. DocumentCloud will have information about documents and relations between them, for example what locations, people, or organizations a group of documents have in common. Conceived of by journalists working at ProPublica and The New York Times, DocumentCloud will be managed as an independent nonprofit.
Their FAQ notes: “Will there be an API? Hell yes.”
See also: Coming soon: Data mining made easier, By Alex Byers, Nieman Watchdog (July 11, 2009).