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Who’s Taking the Public Out of Public Records?

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PI Buzz links to some intriguing stories about how news / media businesses are forcing open and making public those public records that government agencies have been trying to protect, for all sorts of reasons. PI Buzz focus on the Utah database, Utah’s Right To Know, but the discussion goes far beyond that, and even beyond privacy and confidentiality issues.

For example, from a Scoop posting that the PI Buzz post links to:

“The good news is that there are plenty more databases served up on newspaper Web sites than there used to be. Some papers are organizing entire desks around data. The bad news – and people can disagree on this – is that in some cases, the papers aren’t really doing much in the way of Web database development. They’re outsourcing much of the work to Caspio and its Bridge application.

This can’t be such a bad thing, right? I mean, more databases online is a good thing, and of all people, I should be encouraging any way to get the stuff up. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. By leaving the work to Caspio and reducing database development to the safety of point and click, news organizations are far more likely to end up with a bunch of cookie-cutter apps that go just far enough to satisfy the “hey, we need some databases” crowd but not nearly far enough to hold the attention of readers and provide a real service.”

By the way, when I linked to the Salt Lake Tribune story, there was an ad to Travel Oregon 🙂

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