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Multi-Channel Section First Draft from Ken

From: Ken Fischer ClickForHelp.com <ken@clickforhelp.com>
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2009 12:11:05 -0400
To: "'Owen Ambur'" <Owen.Ambur@verizon.net>, "'Luigi Selmi'" <selmi_luigi@hotmail.com>, <box1_price@debategraph.org>, <vassilios.peristeras@deri.org>
Cc: "'eGovIG'" <public-egov-ig@w3.org>, <david@debategraph.org>, <john.breslin@nuigalway.ie>, <siegfried.handschuh@deri.org>, "'Ed Pastore'" <epastore@metagovernment.org>, "'Adam Schwartz'" <aschwartz@gpo.gov>
Message-ID: <E110355D9DB34A15839077BC10DE1675@KenTablet>
Hi Everyone

            Sorry it seems I missed my deadline of last week.  I didn't see
the announcement of the deadline and assumed it was before the next call.

            This is my first attempt at contribution, so I would like to get
feedback before posting on the appropriateness of it.

            I don't deal heavily with standards but focus on concepts so I
know that might need some work.  It seems technology formats change so fast,
that it is more important to create the framework for why standards are
needed than to focus on the standard itself in the case of something like
eGov and social media which is still in an experimental phase.

            I welcome your comments. 

                        Thanks

                        Ken

 

 

 

Multi-Channel Distribution Standards.

In an age of connected data, standards are not just about the format of
information but are also about accessible and fair distribution.  That
having been said, a balance must be achieved so that distribution of
information does not become a barrier limiting the amount of information
which is distributed.  

 

In the digital age, information is key to both economic and social
development of societies. Therefore, governments need to prioritize making
more as much information available through broadly distributed channels over
limiting information in order to make it most broadly accessible and
distributed.  This is a classic 90/10 effort issue, where the last 10% of
effort to broaden distribution and accessibility to near perfection would
make 90% of the effort.  Too often governments have opted for an all or none
method in information distribution and it has resulted in less distribution
and a lesser good for the public as a whole.  The amount of information is
too vast given the current state of information storage formats and
technology to make all information accessible through all conceivable
methods and channels.  Accepting this fact and letting data go needs to be
the priority.

 

That having been said accessibility should be discarded but rather a system
should be in place to determine which information warrants the broadest,
most accessible distribution and which information should be posted but does
not warrant effort to increase accessibility except in that the format
chosen should be a non-proprietary one so that the public may redistribute
the information if it chooses.  Concern for accessibility may be handled by
providing a government sponsored service which can provide specific data in
more accessible formats on demand.  

 

This is not a radical departure from traditional accommodations but rather a
continuation of choices which have been traditionally made.  An excellent
example to understand how this is an extension of existing policies is to
consider library books and the blind in the US.  Library books for the
sighted are more widely available and more easily accessible at libraries
across the country, but Braille versions of books can be accessed on demand
through the Library of Congress' National Library Service for the Blind and
Handicapped.  A similar program could be developed for on demand access of
multimedia material for the handicapped. That having been said, basic
accommodations which can easily be built into websites to promote
accessibility should be addresses with social media providers by encouraging
broad accessibility to their material and links should be provide on multi
media home pages on how to request versions such as closed captioned videos.

 

 

Accessibility 

Accessibility is determined by 3 factors: device, bandwidth, and user
disability in using the device (commonly known as 508 standards in the US).
Device and bandwidth issues are typically talked about as the 'digital
divide'.  Both wider broadband distribution and accessibility of information
on mobile devices can help to solve this issue.  One of the ways in which
governments are broadening broad band access is through free internet
enabled computer availability at libraries and kiosks.  The type of access
widely available to citizens for free at public locations as well as those
available at the lowest price points should  considering when choosing  data
standards, platforms, devices and websites for the bulk of information
through social media channels.  If broadly available access is not
compatible with methods which the majority of citizens of a country use the
internet, then clearly public internet access is not providing adequate
access. 

 

In considering the choice of media outlets, determining whether a website or
platform makes text based information available on low cost mobile platforms
should be taken into account.   The availability of multimedia information
should also be announced and searchable through text based services so that
users who have limited access to multimedia enabled workstations, can find
out about resources they need and go to a kiosk or library which access is
available.  To prevent those without full access even to discover what is
available would effectively block its use, since time and context when
accessing the public internet is limited.

 

Fair distribution.

Fair distribution refers to the issue if government distributed content
through selected websites, platforms or devices creates an unfair advantage
for a particular device, platform, distribution network, or website.  It
seems appropriate for governments to not have to expend resources on wide
distribution if the bulk of the intended audience is on one platform or
website, but some consideration should be taken so that governments do not
become unintentional monopoly makers through their social media distribution
choices.  Again this consideration should not take priority over wide
distribution of the bulk of information.

 

The nature of social media information is to be posted on locations which
are not on government servers or control and is distributed though social
connections not through formal organizations.  Social media information is
distributed on websites which choose whom to allow access to the website and
which behaviors are acceptable. Also a user's activity and connections on a
social media website determines to some extent how much exposure they
receive to information available on that site. For instance, someone is who
is a friend of a person who participates in government discussion boards
will be more likely to be exposed to government distributed information and
the fact of its availability than someone who is not similarly friended.
Likewise, people who belong to groups who choose to participate in smaller
online communities will not be exposed to the government distributed
information.   For instance, what about the parent who blocks Youtube on the
household computer because of objectional material?  Some consideration to
the unevenness of social media distribution should be nade..

 

Multi-media central feed.

Therefore a government using social media to distribute multi-media, should
create standard public locations which announces distribution of documents
and content with links to their openly accessible location.

 

A central text feed of all distributed info will serve four purposes:

            1. Provide the public with a completely open and highly
accessible index to content provided through social media channels. 

            2. Provide the government content in a form isolated from other
content to broaden distribution to those who prefer to avoid mixed
distribution sources.

            3. Provide other smaller content providers and websites methods
to have the same content as larger providers.

            4. Provide a central reference location for any on-demand
accessibility service requests for government sponsored or partnered
services such as closed captioning or braille.

            

These media index locations could be in the form of a searchable text feed
which link to original documents. The text feed should be searchable from
text based mobile devices as well as web browsers.  Search should be
provided through a tagging mechanism which at the least allows those posting
the information to create new search tags and categories.  It also may allow
the public to tag items to create a folksomy based search.   Documents
should be in a freely accessible format such as PDF, so long as that format
allows for the same distribution both in context and content to other
websites as was carried by the government itself.  For instance, if a
document was association on a social media website with certain search tags
attached, those tags should be indicated in this feed. If a document had
hyperlinks or embedded content placed in it by government officials, those
hyperlinks and content should be preserved in this format.  

 

Video and audio should be in an instantly playable format such as a
progressive player linked to cloud based storage so high demand will not
slow distribution, as well as a downloadable format which can be used to
replicate the distribution on other websites.  

 

In the case of virtual world information distribution, some capture of the
virtual world experience should be attempted to replicate the primary
message in some way such as a video of the experience. If it is possible to
store in an open format 3-D objects or actions, that content maybe also be
considered for placement in this central data store.

 

To the extent that an industry standard is developed to allow easily
subscription or importing of documents, audio and video content to alternate
media websites and platforms, governments should adopt these methods to
support their central feed.

 

Conclusion.

Governments should clearly prioritize distribution and accessibility options
which do not pose significant barriers which would decrease the amount of
information distribution.  At the same time some consideration to disabled
users, users without high bandwidth and high cost devices, as well as
devices, platforms and websites with smaller audiences should be taken.  A
low-barrier method to do would be to create a central multi-media text
multi-media index feed, which is searchable from both text based mobile and
internet browsers.
Received on Tuesday, 14 April 2009 22:10:02 GMT

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