micro-consituencies support global information sharing

Creating a new, common language for machine-readable information allows information to be shared across organizations with disparate information systems and information formats.  The Global Justice XML Data Model is a successful example of such a language.  Its success prompted the development of a similar, but broader initiative called the National Information Exchange Model.  Both models integrate information systems via very general communication standards (a shared language) and common resources (forms for specific types of communication). As long as an system includes an interface that speaks the common language, it can communicate with any other system.  Moreover, a repository of forms makes it less costly to implement communication of a specific form.

Creating a new language for machine-readable information sharing has significant costs. Teaching persons to use well a new language is costly.  Developing a large collection of works in the new language (a library of forms) requires considerable time and resources. Moreover, these languages typically aren’t easy for humans to read. Presentation software can be developed to translate the machine-readable language into something that a human can easily parse, but that requires additional investment.

An alternative to creating a new language for machine-readable information sharing is to have information shared via machine-generated, human-readable presentations. Demand for human-readable information already exists both within organizations and across organizational boundaries.  Considerable resources are already engaged in meeting that demand through machine-generated, human-readable tables and reports.  Machine-readable information sharing via human-readable forms requires technology for tagging and aggregating machine-generated, human-readable information.

Sharing information across information systems via a human-readable layer isn’t as powerful or efficient as sharing via a new, machine-readable language.  But the former better enables the development of human constituencies for information production. Among small, loosely connected organizations, local public constituencies for information production play an important role in supporting global information sharing.

Academia offers an instructive example.  Academic initiatives to foster data sharing and journal requirements for use of data repositories have had quite limited success in fostering data sharing. Sharing of human-readable academic papers via personal websites and working-paper repositories, in contrast, has grown enormously.  New publishing tools that easily integrate databases into new forms of electronic publications to create dynamic tables and charts will link much more data into human-readable forms.  Such data can be translated, with some effort, into machine-readable forms.

Related post: industrial organization for government communication

COB-51: a bureaucrat's grave

Death happens. No one wants to die. Bureaucrats do not welcome death. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honors all soldiers. There is no Tomb of the Unknown Bureaucrat. Many bureaucrats are unknown.

the grave of a bureaucrat

Those moving, ponderous words crawled through my head as I visited a colleague’s grave in the courtyard corner of the old office building (the new building doesn’t have a courtyard, so it doesn’t have a good place to bury workers who die on the job).  Many bureaucrats make enormous sacrifices to serve their job descriptions. Some count the days until retirement and never make it.

We need a memorial to honor all bureaucrats, a memorial fitting and proper,  It should have two ordinary citizens standing in front, at attention and perfectly still, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. The changing of the citizen-guard could happen every two or three weeks, with two citizens drawn at random from the population taking over the honor-guard duties. As one of America’s greatest orators proclaimed after the Battle of Gettsyburg:

And shall I, fellow-citizens, who, after an interval of twenty-three centuries, a youthful pilgrim from the world unknown to ancient Greece, have wandered over that illustrious plain, ready to put off the shoes from off my feet, as one that stands on holy ground, who have gazed with respectful emotion on the mound which still protects the dust of those who rolled back the tide of Persian invasion, and rescued the land of popular liberty, of letters, and of arts, from the ruthless foe, stand unmoved over the graves of our dear brethren, who so lately, on three of those all-important days which decide a nation’s history, days on whose issue it depended whether this august republican Union, founded by some of the wisest statesmen that ever lived, cemented with the blood of some of the purest patriots that ever died, should perish or endure, rolled back the tide of an invasion, not less unprovoked, not less ruthless, than that which came to plant the dark banner of Asiatic despotism and slavery on the free soil of Greece?

Bureaucrats deserve no less fitting and proper memorial.

Other bureaucratic issues this month:

Alok Jha is leading the Guardian in a highly innovative and surely disastrous change. That is to say, he is organizing, socializing, and putting into implementation business rules whereby Guardian bloggers will be able to have the capability such that they will be able if they so choose and the system develops as planned to publish without any editing whatsoever.  Jha himself admits, “It’s a completely new model for us because, at the moment, nothing here is unedited.”  Editing is mission-critical bureaucratic work.  It should be expanded, not eliminated.

Russia is heading in the wrong direction with a plan to sack 110,000 government bureaucrats in three years.  Ideally, these government bureaucrats will get bureaucratic jobs in the private sector. If the bureaucrats move into other types of work, how will ordinary Russians get bread? Fewer bureaucrats means famine and rioting.

The Premier of the Cayman Islands is bashing bureaucrats.  That’s what bad politicians do.  His words should be ignored.

Since I’m preparing a galatine de Poulard, that’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats.  Enjoy previous bureaucratic carnivals here.  Nominations of posts to be considered for inclusion in next month’s carnival should be submitted using Form 376: Application for Bureaucratic Recognition.

government television

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has a television channel.  The U.S. Federal Courts have a television channel. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a television channel.   Soon these and other government programming will be available through the portal video.gov.  That portal hopes to attract millions of views.

Disintermediation isn’t just for business.  We’re entering a whole new world of government media.