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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.

New FTC tech blog

Ed Felton, the Chief Technologist at the FTC, has a new blog which he describes as “published by the Federal Trade Commission” but expressing the views “of the Chief Technologist” and not those of the Chairman or the Commission. The blog will focus on technology issues. It is hosted by wordpress.com not by a .gov site.

  • Tech@FTC.

    As the nation’s consumer protection agency, the FTC works on technology issues every day. You’ll see lots of discussion of technology in our reports, cases, speeches and testimonies, not to mention the consumer and business education pieces we publish. But we haven’t had a venue for speaking, more directly and less formally, to the technically minded public about tech issues. That’s what this blog is for.

    Our goal is to talk about technology in a way that is sophisticated enough to be interesting to hard-core techies, but straightforward enough to be accessible to the broad public that knows something about technology but doesn’t qualify as expert.

  • RSS feed.


Grants.Gov has a blog, RSS feed

grants.gov, “a central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs and provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards,” started a blog back in August. It is available at at the commercial, (not dot-gov) site: http://grants-gov.blogspot.com/

I found both the grants.gov site and the blog a bit confusing. It was not clear to me who the audience was. Maybe I should have spent more time evaluating it. But this site has had its problems being user friendly. See Should Grants.gov Be Abolished? and Grants.gov is Windows-only.

Library of Congress Issues Report on Its Flickr Project

Library of Congress Photos on Flickr. The Library of Congress has prepared a report on the results of the first nine months of it use of Flickr.

The report: For the Common Good: The Library of Congress Flickr Pilot Project, by Michelle Springer, Beth Dulabahn, Phil Michel, Barbara Natanson, David Reser, David Woodward, and Helena Zinkham. October 30, 2008

This project significantly increased the reach of Library content and demonstrated the many kinds of creative interactions that are possible when people can access collections within their own Web communities. The contribution of additional information to thousands of photographs was invaluable. Performance measures documented in this report illustrate how the project has been successful in achieving the objectives and desired outcomes of the Library’s strategic goals. The Flickr project increases awareness of the Library and its collections; sparks creative interaction with collections; provides LC staff with experience with social tagging and Web 2.0 community input; and provides leadership to cultural heritage and government communities.

Near the end of the report, the authors quote some of the typical fears about projects like this and say that experience has not borne out the concerns of critics.

At the start of the pilot, critics pointed out several risks often expressed as questions. Experience so far has not borne out their concerns. The skeptics wondered: Would the public conversation contribute to a better understanding of the photos or would fan mail, false memories, fake facts, and uncivil discourse obscure knowledge? Would a public-commercial partnership undermine the Library’s reputation for impartiality? Would the Library lose control of its collections? Would library catalogs and catalogers become obsolete? Would the need to moderate and respond to comments overwhelm all other work? Would history be dumbed-down? Would photographs be disrespected or exploited? Would entire collections be welcome or would selection of safe content border on censorship of historical information?

This is an interesting, well done report with specific details that should be useful to others thinking about how to expand their library services.