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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.

If YouTube Fails

I wonder how much government information we would lose if YouTube failed. Are agencies that rely on YouTube as a channel of communication keeping copies of the videos they post there? Would they make them available through another channel? What if FDLP libraries had copies?

  • YouTube Is Doomed, by Benjamin Wayne, Business Insider: Silicon Alley Insider, Apr. 9, 2009.

Despite massive growth, ubiquitous global brand awareness, presidential endorsement, and the world’s greatest repository of illegally-pirated video content, Google’s massive video folly is on life-support, and the prognosis is grave.

Air Force Blocking the Military’s Own Video Site

Air Force Blocking the Military’s Own Video Site By Noah Shachtman, Wired, March 27, 2009.

trooptube.tv is the “online video site designed to help military families connect and keep in touch while miles apart” maintained by “Military OneSource” which is an authorized Department of Defense program for Active Duty, Guard, Reserve and their families. As Wired describes it, trooptube is the “military’s taxpayer-funded, security-scrubbed, low-bandwidth-optimized video sharing site.”

But now, Wired says that military bases, especially Air Force bases, are blocking TroopTube as part of a larger, Air Force-wide decision to cut off access to it.

This isn’t the first time the military has sent mixed signals. See Pentagon promotes itself on YouTube, but prohibits troops from using it.

Library Of Congress On YouTube, iTunes

Library Of Congress On YouTube, iTunes, National Journal, TechDailyDose, March 30, 2009.

New channels on video-sharing Web site YouTube and the Apple iTunes service will allow the Library of Congress to begin sharing content from its vast video and audio collections. The channels … will be rolled out in the coming weeks….

Congress on YouTube

Congress Comes to YouTube, by Steve Grove, YouTube blog, January 12, 2009.

YouTube Teams With Congress to Show Lawmakers at Work By Miguel Helft, New York Times, January 12, 2009.

On Monday, YouTube, in collaboration with Congress, will unveil two new Web pages, one for the House and one for the Senate, where every lawmaker will be able to create a video channel on the site.

Already several members of Congress have channels on YouTube. But by creating a central hub for all senators and representatives, YouTube is hoping to encourage more members to create their own channels, not only as a place to promote their agendas but also as a forum for interacting with citizens.

The Senate Hub: youtube.com/senatehub

The House Hub youtube.com/househub

Not Your Father’s Censorship

Not Your Father’s Censorship, Quasi-monopolies and wary governments curb Web freedoms, by HARRY LEWIS, The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Chronicle Review”, Volume 55, Issue 19, Page B9. [subscription required, but freely available here for a short time]

Now, with almost everything digitized, new communication technologies have led to a global proliferation of censorship agents, methods, and rationales….

Should we feel comfortable relying almost exclusively on private companies to help us find the truth, when we cannot know what version of the truth they are showing us?…

Storing information and making it available are now service businesses, and therein lies another censorship opportunity….

U.S. copyright law is such a heavy club that it can abet censorship by parties that simply object to what people are saying about them….

Harry Lewis is a professor of computer science at Harvard University and a fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. He is a co-author of Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion (Addison-Wesley, 2008).