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Grading WhiteHouse.gov, By Jose Antonio Vargas, Washington Post, March 24, 2009.
Remember when government information was boring and no one talked about it? Well, not anymore! Now everyone wants to weigh in on making government information accessible and interesting and useful. At the Washington Post, there is a new series, Grading WhiteHouse.gov, “a monthly feature that invites five thinkers across the online political and cultural spectrum to grade President Obama’s WhiteHouse.gov.” Cool!
The George W. Bush Presidential Library web site has what they describe as a ‘”snapshot” of the Whitehouse.gov web site [of the George W. Bush administration]. This is historical material, “frozen in time.” The web site is no longer updated and links to external web sites and some internal pages will not work.’
The Bush Record page has the publications A Charge Kept: The Record of the Bush Presidency 2001–2009 and Highlights of Accomplishments and Results of the Administration of George W. Bush and 100 Things Americans May Not Know About the Bush Administration Record.
I got to thinking about all the changes and initiatives launched by the Obama Administration during its first week in power — which sources of information should transcend the political elections? In other words, as librarians shouldn’t we argue that certain categories of federal government information should remain consistent and accessible regardless of which political party rules the White House or in the halls of Congress. For instance, shouldn’t there be a standard and predictable form for a press briefing transcript? Compare how the White House handles this with the approach of the State Department. With the State Department the form of the briefing as an actual transcript remains the same from Secretary of State to another. With the Obama press briefings, we get summaries (blog posts) rather than actual transcripts (which were more common with the Bush and Clinton administrations.)
Preservation of individual web sites is important. Continuity of essential civic information from one political change to another is equally important.
See you on day 7.