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Re: Ed and Outreadch Opportunity

From: David Pullinger <David.Pullinger@coi.gsi.gov.uk>
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 2010 14:27:04 +0000
Message-Id: <4B62F035.9179.0047.0@coi.gsi.gov.uk>
To: <chris-beer@grapevine.net.au>
Cc: "Kevin' 'Novak" <KevinNovak@aia.org>, "Joe Carmel" <joe.carmel@comcast.net>, "'Brian Gryth'" <briangryth@gmail.com>, "'eGovIG IG'" <public-egov-ig@w3.org>
Chris,
 
Let me assure you that I'm not in favour of PDF for data or
communication, the critical words were ...'those who insist on..'   Let
me draw a comparison.  The government is not in favour of people taking
drugs.  But we provide information to help those who do.  Our friends at
Adobe should not draw the analogy too far as I just mean that sometimes
we engage in harm reduction - in this case to get at good re-usable
data.  
 
David
 
 
 
 
 
David Pullinger
david.pullinger@coi.gsi.gov.uk 
Head of Digital Policy
Central Office of Information
Hercules House
7 Hercules Road
London SE1 7DU
020 7261 8513
07788 872321
 
Twitter #digigov and blogs:  www.coi.gov.uk/blogs/digigov
 


>>> Chris Beer <chris-beer@grapevine.net.au> 28/01/2010 12:05 >>>
Hey Brian, everyone

Wouldn't be right if I didn't pop the TF4 hat on and respond into the
conversation ;) I already sent Brian an email offering to assist, but
since we're doing this in list... :)

Personally and professionally,  I have issues with "data", if not any
government information, being published in PDF formats as well as how
PDF files are used in general, not only by Gov, but by the Private
sector as well.

IMO The only three reasons (and only if you had to) to use PDF is a) as
an archive snapshot of a document and b) for document control - that is
- when you don't want a document to be altered by users such as in the
case of a manifestation or publication of a piece of legislation,
tenders etc - hence why you can embed digital signatures, lock them from
editing, etc etc. and c) With accessible Smart Forms, which are actually
just such a cool idea and so very useful as an assistive technology, and
for both the user, and the owner - that said these all still have issues
around being in PDF. 

The general usage, however, seems to be for anything and everything
that can be published. Want a printable version? Download the PDF file.

Rather than focus on the pitfalls of using PDF's in the .gov.* space
(which I'm more than happy to discuss with anyone - especially David in
light of his comments ;) ), I'll focus on the topic at hand. I've had a
look at the Fiscal Note Brian provided as well as the proposed Act and
I'm a little stunned by the leap of logic in this sense.

A careful reading of the Bill reveals that throughout, information is
required to be "posted on-line, in a downloadable format". Now if I was
a clever Web Manager in charge of implementing my local schools
requirements under this bill, I could quickly and easily meet these
requirements through a CMS enabled website/database - the act of viewing
a webpage is, by definition, downloading information. Not only that, but
I could point at my model and highlight the fact that:

a) The data supports RDF(a), XML, StratML etc in a far more useful and
usable format than a PDF version

b) I can send my schemas to other schools, or even the Department (who
might want to create a centralised model) to enable consistancy of data
formatting, not just a pretty view of the data

c) I can deliver my data in a range of open standard formats, from such
as binary, CSV, HTML, XML, etc using very basic, free, vendor
independant and accessible technologies

d) I can export a customisable view of this data on demand as a PDF
file if needed... (think the export as PDF function of Google Analytics
dashboard reports.) But I can also export it in a variety of other
propriety formats on demand.

e) I can very easily track the usage and access of this data by the
public through web analytics. If I track it well enough, and agressively
enough, I can start to analyse which parts of the data are the most
useful (for instance I might well find that visits from .edu domains
(ie: teachers) show a marked interest in salary schedule comparisons)
and I can tailor the solution from a push Web 1.0 model to a information
on demand Web 2.0 model.)

f) I can allow others, including other arms of Local, State and Federal
Governments, through API's and mashups, to mix my data with other data
to provide interesting information - like financial data mapped against
student result averages.

A couple of other things to consider with the financial and workload
aspects in mind, is that technically (and correct me if I am wrong) each
and every PDF release of this data would be classed as a government
publication and will require not only ISBN numbers etc, but entry into
the Library of Congress or State equivalent, catalogues as well. A
single website, being considered as an Intergrated Resource, technically
would require only a single catalogue entry...

The Fiscal Note also reads "It is assumed that financial documents can
be electronically converted into a portable document format (PDF) or
image file (tiff, gif, jpg), and posted online at minimal cost, and that
software to convert documents and software to modify websites is readily
available at the district level."

Now thats an interesting assumption - and it is just that - an
assumption. Considering publishing the information as HTML etc is
effectively free.

These are only some initial thoughts, but you get the idea. Happy to
discuss.

David - would love to discuss your thoughts around the standards and
governance on PDF, but it'd probably off topic in this thread. Drop me a
line and expand on things :)

Cheers

Chris




David Pullinger wrote: 


Both,
 
As well as separate data files, it is perfectedly possible to embed
RDF(a) into PDF files, as other markup, and so provide access to Linked
Data thereby...
 
We're considering whether or not to issue standards in this area so
that those who insist on releasing information in PDF files nevertheless
don't put a block on Linked Data.
 
David
 
 
 
 
 
David Pullinger
david.pullinger@coi.gsi.gov.uk 
Head of Digital Policy
Central Office of Information
Hercules House
7 Hercules Road
London SE1 7DU
020 7261 8513
07788 872321
 
Twitter #digigov and blogs:  www.coi.gov.uk/blogs/digigov
 


>>> "Joe Carmel" <joe.carmel@comcast.net> (
mailto:joe.carmel@comcast.net ) 26/01/2010 18:56 >>>

Brian,

One option to consider might be XForms (and XSLTForms in particular). 
Although I’m not familiar with the school district financial data, it
seems like publishing an XForm on a central website and mandating that
school districts fill it out would be easy to create, maintain, and
implement.  The output files could then be posted centrally and/or
locally.    

I’m working with Owen Ambur and several others on something like this
for StratML.  Check out
http://www.xmldatasets.net/XF2/stratmlxform3.xml.   It’s still
being developed but it might serve as an example.  The idea is to
provide a way to create, import, update, display, and finally catalog
StratML fles across the web.    

Joe


From:public-egov-ig-request@w3.org
[mailto:public-egov-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Novak, Kevin
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 12:13 PM
To: Brian Gryth; eGovIG IG
Subject: RE: Ed and Outreadch Opportunity


Brian,

I am here to help you.

I can provide input and opinion on the piece you are developing. I
concur with your assessment of PDF. Other options in addition must be
considered.

Kevin

From:public-egov-ig-request@w3.org
[mailto:public-egov-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Brian Gryth
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 12:08 PM
To: eGovIG IG
Subject: Ed and Outreadch Opportunity

Good day all,

Members of the Colorado General Assembly introduced legislation
recently that would mandate school districts to publish certain
financial data in a down loadable format.  The bill is HB10-1036 and is
available at http://legislink.org/us-co?HB10-1036.  This is a good thing
on the surface.  What concerns me is the fiscal impact statement
associated with the legislation.  The concerning part of the fiscal
impact statement focuses on the information being released in PDF or in
an image format (e.g. JPEG, TIFF, GIF), but does not talk about other
formats.  The fiscal note is available at http://bit.ly/80RBiu.  As has
been discussed by this group and in other places, PDF only publication
is not the best method of publishing government data.


Therefore, I saw this as a perfect opportunity for some education and
outreach.  I am planning on putting some summarized information together
that will discuss data publication methods to sent to the bill sponsors
and other members of the Colorado legislature.  I also plan on speaking
at the Senate hearing for the bill as a concerned citizen.


I would appreciate the assistance of anyone wishing to help me out. 
Please feel free to e-mail me and I will share a Google Doc I will be
using to draft the materials.

Thanks
Brian

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Anyone coming into unauthorised possession of it should disregard its content and erase it from their records.

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On leaving the GSI this email was certified virus free.
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Received on Friday, 29 January 2010 14:28:01 GMT

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