When I did the Government 2.0 Taskforce, one of the subjects that was earnestly discussed was archiving of government sites. It’s a big problem in government. I could never see why it should be a big problem. After all you can look at anything written on ClubTroppo since it started. We haven’t spent any huge amount of money to deliver that kind of functionality, haven’t burned any midnight oil. But IT people in government told that it’s very expensive to keep web pages live. I have no idea why but they swore black and blue that it was.
Anyway I recently sought to track down the results of Obama’s less than spectacularly successful community brainstorming on open government when he came into office. (The top two suggestions for promoting open government were legalising marijuana. The other big thing was releasing Obama’s birth certificate.) Anyway I emailed an American friend who’d been in the White House at the relevant time – now back in academia – asking for any write up of the program and she told me there was one in a 2009 annual review of operations. But it’s gone from the website and no-one has been able to find it in a couple of weeks. This is 2009!
For another project I was also looking up the old Power of Information Taskforce in the UK. Here’s Tom Steinberg’s blog entry announcing its release.
I’m delighted to announce that the review I’ve been working on with Ed Mayo and the Cabinet Office has launched today. You can get the official PDF version here or my friend Sam Smith’s annotatable version that he just threw together.
I clicked on the first link and it went through to here.
Which was promising. It said this.
This snapshot taken on 25/11/2010, shows web content selected for preservation by The National Archives. External links, forms and search boxes may not work in archived websites. Find out more about web archiving at The National Archives. See all dates available for this archived website
Object moved to here.
Alas, it wasn’t there either and I was diverted to a Cabinet Office Page Not found signal – as you can see for yourself if you want to click on the link.
Meanwhile one of the things that the Power of Information Taskforce and Review did was to publish using commercial blogging platforms. And everything using that remains safe and sound. “Sam Smith’s annotatable version” that Steinberg says Sam “threw together” refers to on his blog is still there, safe and sound. Likewise the Government 2.0 Taskforce published to its own url using WordPress software, and it’s still there too, it’s cost to government would be the same as the cost of Troppo to those of us who run it – the cost of the domain name registration, which is about $30 a year or something, though the cost to government of maintaining the UK’s Power of Information review, which is a sub-domain of wordpress.com is exactly zero.
So it still eludes me why, with all the resources to hand, governments make it quite so difficult for themselves.