UN and email alerts

Julian does an outstanding job (mostly alone) on UNDemocracy.com parsing all the PDFs they hide away, and making it all googletastic.

One of the big lessons from TheyWorkForYou.com was to push stuff out to people – RSS for the more geeky types and for reuse, and email alerts for everyone else who are the vast majority of people.

While it’s not yet visible on the undemocracy.com site (which will be when Julian gets back from caving), we now include rss feeds of whatever new material appearing in UNDemocracy.com matches your search query http://www.undemocracy.com/rss.pl?search=America.

While RSS is hip and cool in the tech community, most people have never heard of it, and just want something to land in their mailbox. It’s an easy lesson to learn that putting stuff on the website is not enough, you have to push it out to people who are interested. If what you want is the perception of transparency, without the hassle and work that comes from actually being transparent; then the UN is a prime example. While it puts the documents online (in multiple languages), it hides them quite well – no outreach – you can’t find them in google, let alone RSS or email alerts. If you want to pretend to do transparency, just put stuff on the web where no one will find it. If you want to really do transparency, create a mailing list, so those who are interested get minutes in their mailbox – they just appear somewhere that people are checking anyway. Putting them on a website is a good way of making sure that only people who really care go looking for them.

I’ll include the new material in the email alerts we send from TheUNsays.com (and will work out with Julian how to do signups for email alerts from the UND site when he’s back).

Jul 2008
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