We’re ten years into the greatest paradigm shift in information gathering since Gutenberg. The buzz words may be ‘long-tail’ or ‘small is the new big’, but the bottom line is access is in the hands of the consumer. Our customers, whoever and wherever they may be, can get what they want, when they want it. If they don’t get it from us, they’ll happily go somewhere else. Our role as arbiter between content and user has shifted. Our new goal is to offer the information and get out of the way. Remember David Weinberger’s first law, ‘There is an inverse releationship between control and trust’. We can’t afford to hide behind inadequate, proprietary software that limits user access.
Case in point:
The Nutrient Data Lab offers food composition data through a web interface, hosted and supported by NAL. This database has been the most used resource on the NAL web for years. NDL has increased the worth of the data by offering the entire collection as an ascii dump. The resulting mash-ups are all over the web. At Calorie King and Dole, the data is wrapped in new value-added packages.
All our data should be generously offered on agnostic and standards based platforms.
We can’t afford to silently suffer beneath the arcane business models of fedspace. We have to embrace the shift to openness and push back against those who would dig in their heels at the expense of our customers. We don’t have to tilt at windmills a la Don Quixote. We can use the ‘net to collaborate with like-minded folks at the content-managers Forum or GovLoop.
Case in Point:
On Thursday, the U.S. General Services Administration announced agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and blip.tv that will allow other federal agencies to participate in new media. A number of federal agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Library of Congress already use services like Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. To do so, however, these agencies either needed special waivers, or they negotiated terms directly with these services.
Pictures from the Library of Congress have been viewed over 15 million times.
In addition, the Library of Congress today announced that that it will begin to share more of its content on YouTube and, as podcasts, through Apple’s iTunes. This initiative will launch in the next few weeks.
This week the Treasury Department released a Google Maps mashup of TARP recipients nationwide. The mashup allows engaged citizens to easily review which local, regional, and national banks are participating in the Capital Purchase Program and how much money they’ve received:
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Our customers not only deserve more, but increasingly they are demanding more. That’s the game, we’re only players.