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Obama, Take 3

The Obama White House has a blog. Interesting.

Jeff Jarvis, one of the innovative new media thinkers in the biz, offers his two cents on his blog, Buzzmachine.

Now that Barack Obama is in the White House, he must continue to use and spread the tools of the internet and transparency that he so brilliantly plied to win the office or else it would make his promises of change empty ... 

A new age of government openness, and collaboration with the citizenry won’t be made on one blog or Twitter or RSS feed or YouTube stage. It will be made by issuing and instilling a new ethic of transparency in government.

I argue that we should abolish the Freedom of Information Act and instead make transparency the default for government’s business, which should occur digitally and in the open, so citizens may search, link, comment on, and analyze it. Rather than our asking the government to release our information, the government should ask our permission not to.

Speaking of which, Obama, on his first full day on the job, issued an executive order intended to make it earier for the press and public to obtain government information under the federal Freedom of Information Law. Dubya had tightened access.

We FOI Freaks, and anyone who supports government transparency, are real happy about this, although there are still a few hanging questions. I file 50 to 100 FOI requests a year -- mostly with state and local governments -- and it is an invaluable tool for prying loose information and data.

Hopefully, Obama's action will have a ripple effect, not so much on state FOI legislation, which is pretty good here in New York, but in changing attitudes of the gatekeepers of public information, many of whom remain either ignorant of the law or hostile to its intent.

And the new White House blog, and the push to bring the federal government into the Internet Age, should also prompt people in local and state government to do likewise. At present, almost everything around here is really lame.

Around Christmas, I went to Buffalo's web site in an effort to find out if trash pickups were delayed because of the holiday. Good luck. If the information was there, it was buried. Not to pick on Buffalo -- there are a lot worse local government sites out there.





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