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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.

Building a Civic Commons

Andrew McLaughlin who has been Director of Global Public Policy at Google, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for President Obama, Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, is now the Executive Director of Civic Commons and part of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. On his new blog at Stanford he introduces the Civic Commons:

  • Building a Civic Commons, by Andrew McLaughlin, Stanford Law School, Center for Internet and Society (June 7, 2011).

    Civic Commons is a new non-profit initiative that helps governments build and use shared and open technologies to improve public services, transparency, accountability, citizen participation, and management effectiveness, all while saving money.

The Commons on Flickr

The American Historical Association blog has a nice, short writeup on Flickr: The Commons, where national and state government libraries (including the Library of Congress) are displaying photographs of historical interest.

Unfortunately, there are reports of layoffs at Flickr, including the head of the Commons project.

Lunchtime listen: Crisis of the Commons

Last week, Shinjoung and I were invited to participate at the Crisis of the California Commons Conference. Our panel discussion was with Megan Shaw Prelinger, Annalee Newitz and Bodo Balazs entitled, “Information Commons: Rebirth or Siren Song?” I think there was a lot of discussion about different commmons (environmental, cultural, information etc) that resonate for librarians in general and documents librarians (keepers of the public domain!). You can access the audio here.

One of the best talks (well besides ours!) was Rick Prelinger‘s plenary on the cultural commons was especially interesting (at 44:20 of the audio file with Jeff Lustig, Jonathan Rowe, Ruth Rosen, and Iain Boal). Rick talked eloquently about interoperability, sampling, and openness, issues near and dear to our collective heart. Enjoy!

Commons requires interoperability so it can be open to all; you don’t need a special key to enter the commons…

Here’s some examples of openness taken from the cultural domain:

Openness means not just seeing the image of a bookpage but seeing the text too and being able to grab it, mix it, manipulate it. It means not just watching a movie but being able to download the shots and the edit list and make your own cut. It means not just the music but the MIDI. It means not just the freedom to read, listen, watch, feel, smell, taste, but the freedom to remix in all of these sensory domains. So in the world that we’re entering, the digital world, it means that we have to be able to touch the digital object itself and touch the code that makes it play, display, or manifest itself. In other words, not just see things but be able to transform them.