TheWhitehouseSays.com

After nearly 4 years, I’m probably going to turn www.TheWhitehouseSays.com off in January. It does email alerts and RSS of all the press briefings by the WhiteHouse Press Secretary (and others).

Even now, change.gov is much more interactive than the whitehouse site, and it’s likely that will continue.

Building something to allow comment and engagement on posts where comments are not possible will take much more work on that scale. I feel it’s a worthwhile project, but not a small one that I knocked off in an afternoon, as was done with the original TWHS.

if there is someone (or a group) who would like to use the domain for the public good, I’d be happy to hear what you’d like to do with it.

posted: 25 Nov 2008

A new contact sport?

One of the problems various projects have is maintaining the storage of data of various types into the future. Be it online video, documents or anything else.

Depending on what you’re doing, you might be dealing with documents released under Freedom of Information laws, or other material (that link is well worth reading for some of the more different arguments on various issues).

Video or other publications that may be subjected to take down requests backed with legal enforcement, or even just trivial requests .

While those requests will be honoured by organisations, that only matters if there aren’t copies. It also really helpfully highlights the really interesting stuff – because someone cares enough for it to be taken down. Such requests usually have legal standing, and there’s sometimes a good reason why (whether you agree with that reason is a slightly different matter).

With an XML feed of all documents published (could be RSS, but this is all documents), it would be simple matter to look for documents that disappear or change, and then appropriate action can be taken on copies. The same principal can apply to video on youtube, or anything anywhere else. Who’d write a greasemonkey script or firefox plugin to download a copy of all youtube you watch to your PC? Or keep a copy of anything that come through particular feeds on your RSS reader on youtube. You don’t need to worry initially about bandwidth or storage (1Tb hard drives aren’t that expensive, and you’re not uploading anything yet)

While IndyMedia are finding that people will use the best tools available, irrespective of ideology, even using those tools people who don’t want things to be able to disappear can easily prevent that happening. If something looks for new interesting material as it’s published, and makes copies, that’s enough to make sure that there are copies available if there is anyone interested in that happening. More importantly, this can be done in a complete automated and fully decentralised fashion, where it is not possible to know who has a copy of the data.

On TheGovernmentSays.com we cache everything we ever see as, some day, that might be useful. While the bulk of the material is not likely to be interesting, any items that someone doesn’t want to be seen are a nice juicy take down target accompanied by a legally binding assertion that it’s true.

If crowdsourcing is learning from the wisdom of crowds, is lawyersourcing taking cues from the actions of lawyers?

posted: 16 Nov 2008