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                          Posts with keyword: egovernment


                          GRAMA and Cost

                          Speaking before the GRAMA working group today, Craig Call said "informed people make wise choices says." This is a great way to look at open records and open government. Another thought "GRAMA reduces the need for litigation and thus reduces overall costs." We should view open records as a responsibility of government, not a burden. That said, GRAMA is the worst way to get open government. GRAMA ought to be the way exceptions are handled, not the way routine access to data is made. Exception handling costs any business money. Government is no different. The rule ought to be
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                          Interactive Map of Utah Legislators

                          Back in 2003, I lamented the fact that there was no interactive map to finding your legislator in Utah. Indeed, the process involved a lot of steps that introduced considerable friction. Now, thanks to the power of mash-ups and open data, Scott Riding has created an interactive map of Utah legislative districts and the legislators representing them. I typed in my address and was presented with pictures and contact information of my legislators along with a pin in the map showing my house so I could verify everything was right. Thanks Scott!
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                          Obama to Ditch Blackberry and Email

                          A story in Sunday's NY Times about Obama surrendering his Blackberry caught my attention. Until Jan 20, 2009 whatever he writes on it is private. After that, it's all public. Who among us could live with that kind of requirement? Not many. It's a sad irony that we've constructed a public world--and believe me, this extends far further than the President--where public figures must eschew the kinds of tools we all lean on every day. I know of what I speak. I used to work in Governor Mike Leavitt's office and "channel" was a constant thought in the back
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                          Early Voting in Utah

                          If you're interested in avoiding the lines at your polling place, consider early voting. Most states have provisions for early voting. Utah has information about early voting online, although sadly the actual list of locations is a PDF document. Early voting in Utah happens between October 21st and 31st. Most of the locations have limited hours, so be sure to check that. You'll need to bring a picture ID (whereas you don't for voting at your normal polling place). I was a little disappointed in Utah's online voting information. When you go to the "Leave Your Print" site, there's
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                          Twitter Vote Report: Spread the Word

                          Britt Blaser sent me a link to Twitter Vote Report, a system for sharing stories and issue about voting across the country. Using it is simple, simply tweet with the hashtag #votereport and give: The time of day (9:20 am, 1:12 pm) The zip code you just voted in (e.g. 10591, 10012) The issue: Wait (e.g. a waiting time of over ? hour) Reg. (e.g. a problem with your registration) Machine (e.g. voting machines are broken or jamming) I love this idea. Simple applications of technology for making our democracy work better. Twitter vote support still needs some help
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                          Utah.LEG Anyone?

                          When I proposed (PDF) that the State of Utah move from the state.ut.us domain they'd been using to the more easily branded utah.gov, Al Mansel, the President of the Utah Senate asked me why he couldn't have utah.leg since "gov" meant governor (don't ask). Now, he can. Opening up TLDs and allowing other than ASCII characters is, as they say, a huge step. I hope it's not one into the abyss.
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                          Government Data: the Good and the Bad

                          While I'm at Velocity, Personal Democracy Forum is happening on the other side of the US. David Stephenson was kind enough to send me a slide share of the talk he'll be giving there on government data feeds and visualization. I couldn't help comparing his vision with the reality that Jason Snell writes about in Alameda County: court documents as individually scanned TIFF documents served up in some crappy Java applet. Heh. Some places have a long way to go.
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                          Visualizing Workflow and Transparent Systems

                          I thoroughly enjoyed Jon Udell's interview with Ward Cunningham on IT Conversations. They talk a lot about Ward's efforts at the Eclipse Foundation to build transparent workflow systems. That is, as Jon puts it: But what if you could find out, before pressing the Save button, what's going on in that black box? And what if your way of finding out wasn't by reading bogus documentation, but instead by probing the system itself using its own test framework? From Ward Cunningham's Visible Workings ? Jon UdellReferenced Thu Mar 20 2008 08:42:43 GMT-0600 (MDT) You'll want to read Jon's description
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                          Organizing Ourselves

                          I was listening to Jon Udell's interview with Valdis Krebs on IT Conversations and Valdis tell the story of seeing hotels guests self-organize to deal with hotel management about the awful Wi-Fi service. He says: Hotels are used to dealing with disconnected customers -- hotel guests who do not know each other. They can tell these guests anything. Since most guests do not talk to each other, nothing is verified, no action is coordinated. In terms of social network analysis: the hotel staff spans structural holes between the guests -- occupying the power position in the network. When INSNA
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                          Idaho Kicks Utah's Butt

                          Wow! Thanks to Roland Smith for pointing me at Idaho's road reports site. It's built on Google Maps and totally kicks Utah's butt. Lots more information on almost every road in the state. Very nice.
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                          CommuterLink Is Looking Pretty Tired

                          My daughter called me from Heber this afternoon to tell me she'd be late getting home because Highway 189 through Provo Canyon was closed. I went out to the Internet to try and find out what was going on and was pretty disappointed. The primary site for road conditions is CommuterLink, run by the Utah Department of Transportation. When this site launched with much fanfare in 2001, just in time for the Olympics, it was state of the art. Now it's looking pretty tired. I found my self wishing they'd just used Google maps. In fact, for traffic information,
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                          Colorado Abandoning Electronic Voting

                          Colorado will decide to abandon electronic voting in the upcoming election. I believe that ten years hence no state will support electronic voting--specifically, I think that direct-record voting machines (DRE) will be gone. The opportunities for undetectable fraud (even with reasonably large audits) in small elections are too large and cannot be solved by applying technology.
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                          State Sovereignty Doesn't Count for Much Online

                          Let me pose a hypothetical situation for you: Imagine some backwater town in your state. Now, imagine that some vandals move through town one night and plaster the local water board office with pornographic posters. The town fails to clean it up for a few weeks. Now, imagine that in response, the federal government mobilizes the Army and shuts down every government office in the state. Never happen, right? Well, in a matter of speaking that's just what happened to California earlier this week. The story about GSA pulling down CA.gov makes me shake my head in amazement. Some
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                          GovGab, a New eGoverement Blog

                          GovGab is a new group blog from the folks who run USA.gov (formerly FirstGov). They've been at it for a week. The articles have a personal voice and are related to finding government resources online. For example, the first entry is about Jake's hunt for an apartment and the online resources he used.
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                          Cabinet Level Blogging

                          The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt (my former boss), has a blog. He's writing it himself and, so far, doing a good job of keeping it up with interesting posts. Recently he's been blogging his travel to Africa. The blog is done using Typepad. He's getting lots of comments, as you can image, which must be gratifying. I haven't noticed much reaction in the blogosphere, however. Cabinet-level officials aren't known for transparency, so I am grateful for this kind of leadership. If more government leaders wrote blogs--without filters--we'd have a better sense of them and why
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                          Using Twitter in Emergencies

                          And speaking of Twitter, from David Stephenson, a story of how the LA Fire Dept. is using Twitter and other Web 2.0 technologies as part of their disaster recovery and preparedness efforts. In addition, the LAFD is using Twitter just to keep citizens informed of what they're doing: "But the most popular effort has been the Twitter account, which now has about 190 followers who can receive Twitter updates from a mobile device. For example, a Twitter will report that a structural fire is being battled by 30 firefighters, or that a car accident has occurred. It reads like
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                          eVoting Reports Continue Negative News

                          I just put some pointers at Between the Lines to three new reports on the security problems inherent in eVoting systems.
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                          One Stop Business Registration

                          I just finished setting up an LLC using Utah's One Stop Business Registration. This is an event-style eGovernment service that we first envisioned when I was CIO. It's been in operation for a while, but this was my first opportunity to use it. I was impressed. The application takes all of the various interactions you'd have with the State to create a business and streamlines it into one, easy to follow workflow. The only criticism I had, and it's minor one, is that the application asked if I wanted to add any additional articles to the Articles of Incorporation,
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                          Open Source: Locked Into Uncertainty

                          I was browsing the ZDNet blogs this morning and saw this ad: This caught my eye and I clicked through. The ad takes you to case studies from Microsoft, including one showcasing the State of Illinois' email consolidation project. Utah did something similar back in 2002. Believe me, it's not an easy job. As you'd expect since it was a Microsoft case study, Illinois chose to consolidate an Exchange/Active Directory solution--they had different agencies using Exchange, GroupWise, and Notes. We were luckier--almost everyone was usin GroupWise and Novell directory--although there were lots of servers with out of date versions
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                          Social Networks, eGovernment, and the iPhone

                          This weeks' Technometria podcast is a little unusual. Due to a scheduling problem on my part, it started out with Scott and I discussing his recent explorations on Ning. At one point we start talking about how social networks might work in government. I happened to notice that Dave Fletcher, the Chief Technology Officer for Utah, was online and so I asked him if he could join us. He dialed in and we had a good conversations. Naturally, we also discussed the iPhone since it was just days after I'd gotten mine. Also, be sure to check out the
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                          New Features on Utah.gov

                          Dave Fletcher, Utah's Deputy CIO, points out some new features for Utah.gov, Utah's eGovernment portal including many expanded search options, a multimedia portal, and sub-portals for travel and state parks. The state parks site contains a very useful mashup of state park data with Google Maps. Nice.
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                          Saying Yes to Paper Ballots

                          An editorial in last Thursday's Deseret News got a little hot under the collar over the current debate over what to do with electronic voting. It said, in part: The concern is understandable, of course. New inventions make nervous Nellies of us all. People once feared that microwave ovens would make them sterile or that garage door openers might lead to cancer. Humorist James Thurber recalled that his mother would never leave light sockets open in the house because she was convinced electricity would leak out, costing her money and threatening her health. Such things are often the source
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                          Overdoing Security

                          I was registering for the FAA Medxpress program today. This program allows pilots to submit their flight physicals online. Once you've registered, the FAA requires that you change your password. Here's the requirements for the new password: You have accessed the FAA MedXPress site using a temporary password. You must change your password in order to continue. Passwords must contain between 8 and 12 characters and include at least three of the following four character groups: English upper case characters (A through Z); English lower case characters (a through z); Numerals (0 through 9); Non-alphabetic characters (such as !,
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                          Harnessing Decentralized Resources in Disasters

                          By now we know that the gunman responsible for yesterday's carnage at Virginia Tech was a South Korean student. A video-game crazed South Korean student, if you believe the other Dr. Phil. It's not too early to think about what we could do differently in the future, however. Yesterday, I received an email from David Stephenson, who's blog is still broken with some of his ideas of the role Web 2.0 technologies could play. I'm sure he won't mind me giving them broader exposure here and commenting. David said: There's NO PLACE in our society that should have been
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                          eVoting Machine Secrets for $82

                          Princeton computer science professor Andrew Appel paid $82 to acquire five Sequoia electronic voting machines from a government auction site. This is the first time anyone's examined a Sequoia machine without signing an NDA. Here's his story.
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                          Securing Vermont's Networks

                          Vermont's governor has called for a complete audit of security across executive branch agencies. "The problems discovered over the last several months are entirely unacceptable to me because they were preventable," Douglas said. "I expect the department to look at every area and aspect of our Internet security protocols to be sure we are employing all the available resources to protect the integrity of our systems. And I expect a higher standard to be set in IT departments throughout state government." From Vermont Governor Calls for Full Internet Security Audit - Feb 02, 2007Referenced Tue Feb 06 2007 09:14:42
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                          eGovernment Calendaring for Meetings

                          Sometimes it's the simple things that make the biggest differences--that's true for eGovernment as well. Rep. John Dougall has proposed HB222 in the Utah House to require that "a public body which holds regular meetings that are scheduled in advance over the course of a year shall give public notice at least once each year of its annual meeting schedule...on the Internet, in a manner that is easily accessible to citizens that use the Internet" This is a good move and takes advantage of the strengths of the Internet to inform citizens of when their government is meeting. Naturally,
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                          Politicopia: Participatory Legislation

                          Steve Urquhart is the Rules Chairman of the Utah House of Representative. Before I worked in the Governor's office, I had no idea what that meant. It's a very powerful position because the Rules Committee essentially decides what bills make it to the floor and can be voted on. In other words, they're the gatekeepers who decide what legislation gets to a vote. Rep. Urquhart is also one of the Utah politicians most committed to transparency in Government. He was one of the first politician bloggers in Utah or anywhere. Now, he's taken a big step toward making the
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                          Distributing the Surveillance Society

                          New York will allow 911 Dispatchers to receive and use images from cell phones. At one point, the surveillance society seemed like it would happen with lots of cameras mounted on lightpoles, but this points to a more distributed method. Make it easy to tattle on your neighbors with cell phones and people will do it.
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                          Digital Certificates for State Government

                          The State of Illinois has been a big proponent of digital certificates for citizens and has been issuing them for some time. People can use these to authenticate to eGovernment applications. Of course, you don't want to force people to use a digital certificate when they renew their driver's license, but there are somethings that require strong authentication and the lack of good ways to accomplish it hampers digital government. According to this story from Government Technology, they just issued their 100,000th digital certificate. They have also cross-certified with the Federal Bridge Certification Authority (FBCA), so these state-issued digital
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                          YouTube For eGovernment

                          David Stephenson's arguing that YouTube will prove itself a critical tool for emergency management. Government agencies could already make much better use of video, podcasts, and screencasts than they do. Once they catch onto their importance, they'll need to realize that content aggregators like YouTube are a much better alternative than burying these services on some agency Web server.
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                          Paper for Voting

                          Legislation pending in Congress would ban the use of paperless electronic voting machines in the 2008 election. When John Dougall proposed the legislation in Utah requiring a paper audit trail, there were some naysayers. John's looking pretty smart now since his legislation ensured that Utah didn't buy machines it would now have to throw out or modify.
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                          NIST Report Condemns DRE Voting Machines

                          In what may be the biggest blow for electronic voting machines yet, NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology issued a draft report this week that concluded that paperless direct-record equipment (DRE) voting machines cannot be made secure and recommends optical scan systems (Washington Post story). The report will be debated next week in a meeting of the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC). This is the committee that makes recommendations to the Federal Election Assistance Commission. Next week's meeting will be webcast. The report (PDF) stresses the need for "software independence." From the report A voting system is
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                          Virtual Regionalism

                          David Stephenson has written an Op-Ed piece for the Boston Globe calling on Massachusetts Governor-elect Deval Patrick to use the Web to create better state government. David lists several examples of how eGovernment initiatives in other states have made government better. He also makes some suggestions that go beyond merely adopting what others are doing, including something he calls "virtual regionalism:" Most creative would be what I call "virtual regionalism ": not statutory regional bodies, but ad hoc, voluntary ones helping communities with similar interests and problems to collaborate on shared solutions. If the Office of Commonwealth Development or
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                          Voting Machine Troubles in Utah County

                          Voters in Utah County are having trouble voting this morning. The problem seems to be poll workers not knowing how to bring the machines up and make them work. Robert Nelson was among those in Provo and other locations in Utah County who were unable to cast their votes using the new voting machines when the polls opened. After arriving at his polling location at 7 a.m., Nelson said he spent an hour and a half hoping the machines would be fixed. "The workers were earnestly trying to get the machines to work, but not a one in our
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                          Hacking the Vote

                          There's an HBO documentary on tonight called Hacking the Vote (see the trailer on YouTube). I don't have HBO, but wish I could watch it.
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                          Scary Voting

                          I just put an article up at Between the Lines on why electronic voting is scary.
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                          Scary Voting Videos

                          Diebold AccuVote-TS voting in Princetons Voting Studies Lab Ariel J. Feldman, J. Alex Halderman, and Edward W. Felten have completed a security study using an Actual Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machine. The study will no doubt provide some good information for people, but what's really eye-catching is the video they prepared showing how you can install software in under a minute that not only steal votes, but is also viral so that it spreads from machine to machine as workers update software. These kinds of results make one wonder how any elections official can remain sanguine about the security of elections
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                          Digital Identity in BC Government

                          Dave Nikolesjsin, CIO, Prov. of British Columbia(click to enlarge) Dave Nikolesjsin is the CIO for the Prov. of British Columbia. No less an authority on identity than Dick Hardt has told me that I really had to see what they were doing in identity. So, when I saw that Dave as speaking at DIDW, I knew that was one session I had to attend. Serendipitously, I sat with Dave at breakfast and got a chance to get acquainted. The title of Dave's talk is "Citizen-Centric Identity." He shows a picture with a citizen, in this case a little girl from
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                          Hacking Diebold

                          Nick Barker sent me a link to a web page that shows (in about the most annoying way possible) how a Diebold electronic voting machine can be hack in 4 minutes with $12 worth of tools. I didn't look over the last Diebold machine I was in close proximity to in enough detail to remember whether it used this method of securing the memory card or not. Anyone else remember? And while we're on the subject of electronic voting, Diane Rehm is interviewing Avi Rubin about his new book Brave New Ballot today. Avi does a great job of
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                          Making Public Data Public

                          The form that public data takes is important to me. When governments make data available in the right way, it can be reused--mashed up--by others to create new eGovernment applications that governments don't have the time, interest, or money to create. I wrote about enabling Web services through the use of open standards when I was Utah's CIO (here's a longer paper if you're interested). While my discussion has mainly focused on the technical side of this, there are also important public policy issues. What data should be public, for example. Most governments have a freedom of information act,
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                          Electronic Voting and Paper Ballots

                          This story from the Salt Lake Tribune talks about the policy confision and questions surrounding recounts for electronic voting machines in Utah after last month's primary election. While there is some chaos right now, I'm confident that it's going to all get worked out because the proper levers are in place. Utah's law requires a paper ballot and designates it the "official" ballot. Based on that law, there will be some court challenges and lawsuits and precedent will be established. That's how these sorts of things get worked out. Some will decry this as messy and expensive, but that's
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                          You Don't Need Your Government Today

                          Speaking of Utah.gov, it's offline and returning a 503 (Service Temporarily Unavailable) error. Anyone know what's up? In the meantime, you don't need your government today--go away and come back tomorrow. And as long as we're talking about eGovernment, Google launched a specialized search engine for US Government information. The page can be personalized, if you log in. The personalization includes feeds from various government and non-government news sources as well as the ability to add random RSS feeds.
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                          No Hablo Espanol

                          Earlier this month Utah launched, with little fanfare, www.espanol.utah.gov, a Spanish-language companion to the state's Web site at www.utah.gov. The site contained 10 pages of information about taxes, health care, and so on in Spanish. A few days ago they took it down in the face of complaints that it violates Utah's "English as the official language" law. I think I'm going to be sick. Don't get me wrong. I think that we'll all be better off if immigrants are assimilated into mainstream culture, including language, rather than forming a separate sub-culture. But I'm also a realist and realize
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                          Mike Leavitt, Technology Champion

                          Mike Leavitt(click to enlarge) Mike Leavitt, my old boss, has been named NASCIO's National Technology Champion. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) named Michael Leavitt, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as the association's 2006 National Technology Champion Award recipient in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the field of information technology (IT) public policy and practice. "Secretary Leavitt's passion for enabling the use of technology has advanced citizen service, information sharing and good government," said Wisconsin CIO and NASCIO President Matthew Miszewski. "We applaud his dedication to implementing widespread deployment of health
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                          eVoting Security Holes

                          I put a piece about Black Box Voting's report up at Between the Lines. The report found significant security problems. The investigation is a result of Bruce Funk's courageous action in letting independent security experts look at his Diebold machines. Should we panic? No. But we ought not to dismiss this security concern out of hand either as Diebold seems to hope we will. More states should subject more voting machines to independent tests by real computer security experts. If there's nothing to hide, then this should be a relatively painless thing to do. The fact that Diebold and
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                          Utah Senate Blog Is Effective eGovernment

                          The Utah Senate Site blog was featured in a story at Stateline.org. Joining the nation's growing proliferation of political Web logs, or blogs, the Utah site was the first of its kind to strike up a digital dialogue that included entries not just from state Senate Republicans but also from minority Democrats and lawmakers in the opposite chamber. Unfolding comment by comment, the unofficial daily log often paralleled official debate taking place under the dome -- with the added bonus of anonymity. From Power blogging debuts in Utah capitolReferenced Fri May 12 2006 10:23:04 GMT-0600 (MDT) Ric Cantrell, on
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                          Social Software and eGovernment

                          In a recent Government Technology News article Wayne Hanson asks "Can Social Software Improve eGovernment?" One interesting thing that struck me in the opening paragraph is that he throws RSS into the pool of accepted technology. That's saying something for RSS that I'm not sure is acknowledged much. The article talks about blogs, referencing an article from last February that spoke about our blogging experiment in Utah when I was CIO. It also mentions wikis, del.icio.us, Flickr, and collaborative editing tools like Subetha and Moon Edit. Unfortunately, the article reaches no conclusions and even makes a few blatant errors
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                          XML and the Real-Time Web

                          In an article, worth reading, on the use of Web technologies to manage disaster recovery, David Stephenson discusses how XML increases eGovernment productivity: Now there's another piece of the pie from the Center for Technology in Government and New York State: a test project in which 5 New York agencies switched from HTML to XML to produce their websites. As a long-time pimp for XML's widespread use in government as a tool to promote interoperability and data exchange in homeland security, I was ecstatic with the results as reported by Federal Computer Week's Dibbs Sarkar: a lot less time
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                          Blogging and Democracy

                          The Senate Site is a great example of how small inexpensive tools can provide huge wins for democracy. The Senate Site is a group blog sponsored by the majority leadership of the Utah Senate, but people who aren't senators or members of the majority party also write sometimes. To see why I think this is a valuable tool, look at this post by Sen. Buttars on his proposed legislation to control how teachers talk about the origin of life. I think the bill is ridiculous, but I'll save that for later. What I'm more interested in here is that
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                          What Does This Data Tell You?

                          I ran across this article about the State of Mississippi's Web site. What caught my eye was the information that the site had jumped from 49th place in Brown University's study to 9th place. Now, I'm sure they all worked hard and that this is a great accomplishment, but the very fact that you can jump so far in a single year underscores the assertion that state Web portals really aren't offering very much. The truth is that we are still just playing around at level 2 of a four level eGovernment maturity model. The state eGovernment portals built
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