Category Archives: Open Government

DataRescue TC’s – Call to Action!!!

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. ― George Orwell1984

With the help of a host of friends the federally produced datasets housed at the University of Minnesota Libraries will escape this Orwellian fate. The University Libraries have issued a resounding call for researches, tech-savvy coders, archivists, librarians, and “passionate community members” to share their time, skills and commitment to access as participants in the crisis-dictated DataRescue-Twin Cities project.

The goal of DataRescue-Twin Cities is to “capture and archive” the immensely valuable and irreplaceable data housed at the U of M Libraries. It’s one of many institutions participating in a vigorous national initiative now activated on university campuses, in government agencies, anywhere that the people’s data are threatened by unprecedented policies that fly in the face of science, open government and people’s right to know.

Emphasis of the call to action is on volunteers’ willingness to help rather than on sophisticated skills. Volunteers will find the job that fits from a range of options including Seeding and Sorting, Researchers/Harvesters, Checkers, Baggers, and Toolbuilders. The “position descriptions” are spelled out in detail in the call to action.

There’s much more information re job descriptions on the U of M website:

http://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/datarescue/2017-02-24/#.WK3stBIrKpg

DataRescue-Twin Cities Details:

Dates:         Friday, February 24, 1:00 – 6:00 p.m.S

Saturday, February 25, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Site:             Humphrey School of Public Affairs, 50B

RSVP to the event on Facebook!

Questions? Email datarescuetc@umn.edu

Advocates resist restraints, misuse of government information

Clearly, the challenge facing this nation will challenge most Americans in one way or another. It helps to focus – and to assess individual and societal resources within our reach. As past blog posts suggest, my tools of choice lean toward real facts, the truth and, above all, informed citizens “armed” with the tools (weapons?) of access and critical thinking tools to weigh the overwhelming flood of facts and alternative facts by and about the government.

Good information has a real advantage when it comes to weaponry – it’s agile, abundant and, as I often quote, Harlan Cleveland’s contention that “it’s better if shared.”

No wonder then, that the Commander-in-Chief is quick to grasp the potential of information and its manipulation — misinformation, disinformation, and, most recently, depriving Americans of information collected and analyzed at public expense.

We the public are at the ready to fight fire with fire, alternative facts with legitimate data, mindless tweets with authenticity, bluster with honest truth.   Seekers of truth are eager to share truth with citizen stakeholders who possess both the skills and technology to learn, assess, share and act on good and relevant information by and about the federal government.

Clearly, we have a long way to go – and yet at this juncture many Americans are keenly aware that information matters and that we have the people and the organizational power to act. Leaders of efforts to assure truth in government, transparency and accountability share a commitment to shape a powerful strategy built on truth, not trickery.

The founding fathers affirmed that the fundamental principle of this democracy is information, presumably in the hands and minds of citizens for whom government information is a mighty tool – until access is denied – or until the information tool is weaponized. That’s where we are now. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/information-and-media-not-weapons-but-tools/

The weaponization of the peoples’ information has clearly caught the attention of the public and of those advocacy groups that have galvanized their efforts to collaborate and “resist.” The most overt of action is the forthcoming March for Science, a public expression of resistance set for Earth Day, April 29. Plans for the March are also underway. – some recent updates: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/01/politics/science-march-earth-day-trnd/\

For a half century the most powerful tool in the hands of open government access proponents has been the Freedom of Information Act. More about FOIA here https://www.foia.gov/faq.html. Follow the FOIA website here: http://thefoiablog.typepad.com

Countless advocacy groups, including numerous coalitions, are “armed for action.”

These are just a very few of the insider entities at the forefront of truth-finding:

Muckrock suggests an action plan – https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2017/jan/04/how-we-can-all-work-towards-better-foia-process-20/ [note: if you have problems with this link, google the title]

http://www.openthegovernment.org/node/5414 – offers timely updates and an excellent list of coalition members that share a commitment to open government..

Federal News Radio provides just one of countless descriptions of the backlash to presidential halts to the free flow of federal government information – in this case the news is geared to inside the Beltway audience. http://federalnewsradio.com/

A couple of recent “Poking” posts underscore and elaborate the centrality of an challenges to an informed electorate:

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/category/access-to-information-2/freedom-of-information-act-foia/

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/inquiring-minds-need-to-know-thoughts-on-sunshine-week-2016/

 In a Time of Universal Deceit Telling the Truth

Is a Revolutionary  Act ~ Source not certain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words matter – and are now searchable in the Trump Archives

The opportunity before all of us is living up to the dream of the Library of Alexandria and then taking it a step further – universal access to all knowledge.  Interestingly, it is now technically doable Brewster Kahle

Founder of the Internet Archive Brewster Kahle is disinclined to back down from a challenge. He’s also a proponent of real facts, primary sources and the capacity of technology – in the hands of people of good will — to assure that real acts trump alternative facts and fake news. Basically, he believes that a democracy ruled by informed citizens is what the Forefathers envisioned….

Kahle’s Utopian vision is realized in the Internet Archive, now an accepted and essential pillar of today’s information infrastructure.

Sometimes a tool waits in the wing for just the right moment to be essential! Such is the case with the Internet Archives,  henceforth the home of the Donald Trump Archives.   Journalist David Lumb heralded the archive with a hearty “Fact-checkers, start your engines!”

Dating back to December 2009 the Trump Archives’ ultimate goal is to capture virtually every utterance, print, video, digital, or other of the Trump administration.   At the launch of the Trump Archive last month journalist Kalev Leetaru wrote this in Forbes:

For this first incarnation of the Trump Archive, the Archive chose to start with a manually curated collection of around 700 video clips, ranging from major events like presidential debates and major speeches to key policy statements and views espoused by the President-elect, drawing heavily from those video clips that journalists had already identified as particularly noteworthy or which received widespread attention. This means that the collection as it presently stands includes many of the most-talked about Trump statements, but is not an exhaustive record of Trump’s total television appearances.

Read Leetaru’s full article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2017/01/06/the-internet-archives-new-donald-trump-and-white-house-archives-transparency-and-history-as-data/#26efe1907d98

It’s been nearly a month now since The Launch.   To get a sense of the goals, and to keep up-to-date on the scope, response and impact, follow the Trump Archive blog here:  http://blog.archive.org/2017/01/23/in-the-news-trump-archive-end-of-term-preservation-link-rot/

A well informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny. Thomas Jefferson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information and media – Not weapons, but tools

Informational Power is where a person possesses needed or wanted information. This is a short-term power that doesn’t necessarily influence or build credibility. Vivian Giang

The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. Malcolm X

The fact is, information and media are unique and powerful tools, to be wielded by sentient creatures for good or for evil. When the American Library Association was promoting the “information power” theme years ago I worried at the value-free assumption that the information would be put to good purposes. And when we hyped the potential of the communications media, from cable to the web, I wondered more….

My skepticism is affirmed today as we experience the reality of information and communications expertise brilliantly coupled to disrupt our democracy.

This should not be news. It was either Mark Twain or H.L Mencken who advised his readers to “Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton.”   The technology, but not the meaning, has been updated here. http://www.adweek.com/fishbowlny/ink-by-the-barrel-on-the-internet/252889

But that’s a diversion from the real fact – that the administration has effectively wed the power of information with the power of the media to shape reality.   Those in power wield information as a sword to silence, to pervert, to foment, to shape, to craft alliances and to conceptualize, then propagate, alternative truth.   We who are but “subjects” are ill-prepared to meet the challenge; we lack, or fail to unsheathe, the information/communications skills and attitudes to withstand the onslaught.

And still it is a real fact that we are not a passive people. The Women’s March and forthcoming March for Science clearly reflect our power to harness the human power to resist.

The first line of resistance to alternative facts is well-meant but knee-jerk –- placing blame and responsibility on the communications channels, or even the sources, of misinformation and disinformation is short-term and futile.

We are challenged to fully accept that information and communications technology have been “weaponized” – and that it is incumbent upon us to “arm” ourselves. We need to assume the responsibility to become critical thinkers – and to shape a learning environment that enhances the critical thinking of future voters, including both youth and future voters.

We can’t fall for the press-bashing and post-truthiness cleverly designed to divert our focus and our energy. Instead, we need to embrace the challenge to seek the truth and to stand firm when it is information is thwarted, perverted, suppressed, hidden from public view – or is not collected in the first place!

Thomas Jefferson, a man who dealt in truth, had this to say on the subject

Wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government.” –  Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789

* * *

Related posts – Selected:

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/marchers-will-support-research-science-real-facts/#respond

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/discovering-truth-starts-with-independent-thinking/

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/creating-a-culture-of-encounter-some-info-tools/

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/relax-learn-then-resolve-to-resist-post-truth-thinking/

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/information-literacy-universal-challenge-of-the-digital-era/

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/information-literacy-curriculum/

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/national-information-literacy-awareness-month-2016/

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/11/19/facing-the-facts-about-facts/

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/scrubbing-history-scrapping-the-facts/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marchers will support research, science, real facts

It’s hard to specify the “tipping point.” It could have been the fact that the President considers climate change “a hoax”; or it could have been the gag orders issued to federal agencies; or maybe it was funding cuts for scientific research; or the team of researchers, archivists and librarians rushing to preserve essential scientific records. For many non-scientists it was simply the challenge to comprehend the concept of “alternative facts.”

Whatever the efficient cause, the effect is a planned March for Science – a march similar to the Women’s March, to be held in Washington, DC, in Europe, and in communities throughout the nation.

This is not to be a march of scientists but rather a March for Science. Planners describe a non-partisan march that “reaches far beyond people in the STEM fields and should concern anyone who values empirical research and science. “ Focus is on policy, including communication of findings from tax-funded research as well as funding for and nature of tax-funded research initiatives.   A fundamental premise of the initiative is that facts matter.

Details – including date – are in the works and should be out in the next few days. Meanwhile, stay informed – or get involved – through these channels:

Twitter: @ScienceMarchDC

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1862739727343189/

Reddit: /r/scientistsmarch

Get Email Updates

To help: https://goo.gl/forms/zAdY02dBEz3Ykii42

Contact: scientistsmarchonwashington@gmail.com

Who can participate? Anyone who values empirical science. That’s it. That’s the only requirement.

As a concerned non-scientist I’m eager to get instructions for gear that will appropriately represent the cause! Knitting needles are poised for action!

UPDATE:  http://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/01/25/war-facts-sparks-momentum-scientists-march-washington

 

 

 

Fake news – The post-truth needle has moved – Now what?

Post-election public awareness of the depth and breadth of fake news is growing by the hour. The recent BuzzFeed blast (https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/the-strangest-fake-news-empire?utm_term=.gmdrXdGXg#.oc7BJQpJw) brings the pernicious practice into the daily lives of masses of the general public are just now feeling the pain.

If there is any hope it lies in the fact that the explosion sparks a flicker of hope that the current torrent of public awareness may lead to action – including a heightened level of “perceptive paranoia” among news consumers. For now, the communities bamboozled by the false claims of high profile neighbors-to-be are injured, insulted and enraged.

Meanwhile, in the journalistic background action steps are underway: For starts, there is increased respect — not to mention expanding career opportunities — for fact checkers such as the truth-seekers at Ballotpedia (http:ballotpedia.org), Annenberg’s (http://www.factcheck.org), Politifact (http://www.politifact.com), the Poynter Institute (http://www.poynter.org) to name just a few. Fact checkers can’t change the original but they can inform perceptive individuals to the incipient dangers of the misinformation and disinformation.

Understandably, serious journalists are seriously exorcised.   Members of the press, appropriately outraged, have spoken out in multiple ways. These are but a few of the published critiques based on the fake news story:

In the parlance of the media mavens, the “needle has moved” on fake news. We are well in the Post-Truth Era.   In our own good time the American public has heard the poet’s message – today, fake news IS the news.

We have a public disinformation epidemic that is spreading like a vicious virus through the communications channels – formal and informal – of this democracy.  The true fact is that we have a preliminary, if not universal, diagnosis.

With all due respect for The Bard: The fault, dear Readers, lies not in the stars but in ourselves.”

Another good read:  http://www.cjr.org/tow_center/mobile_notifications_changing_new_york_times.php?utm_source=Pew

 

Facing the Post-Truth Era – Dylan’s warning, today’s tools

Back in the day, decades before the advent of FB, the prophets among us predicted the Post-Truth era. Consider Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan’s thoughts about the threat of lies and news fakery, shared in a 1963 interview with Studs Terkel. What did you think Dylan meant by when he warned that hard rain that was gonna fall? http://www.poynter.org/2016/bob-dylan-on-lies-and-news-fakery-way-back-in-1963/443058/

In the Post-Truth age countless Minnesotans have joined the chorus of fake news critics. Here are just a few samples of what the people and the media have to say:

MOST IMPORTANT: In the spirit of Dylan – and Keillor — librarians at the University of Minnesota have had what it takes to get up and do what needs to be done to counter the scourge of fake news. How do we become better citizens of information is an excellent tool for any independent learner hoping to survive in the Post-Truth Era. http://www.continuum.umn.edu/2016/11/become-better-citizens-information/#.WFb7xGVfKJU.   Check it out!!!