Growing Pains of Online Information

16 09 2009

I have been working diligently researching my topic for the massive COM 530 research project. In all honesty, it is pretty close to consuming my life! Therefore, I figured why not reflect on something I have noticed while checking out some references online.

What good does it do a government agency, personality or business interest if important information is made accessible to people but they have no idea that the information is there? I cannot speak in reference to businesses here but based on my research of government entities, I have noticed a pattern. Well, perhaps a pattern but it is worthwhile noting. Some of the early adapters to government transparency have gone ahead and placed loads of information online, where anyone can navigate to the specific posting page and do what they desire with the information. Ah ha, if only the process was that easy. Many of the sites I have seen place root directories online and make numerous active links for anyone to click on. But, instead of seeing the information, more times than not, it results in a prompt asking if you want to download a massive PDF file. I don’t know about you, but when trying to obtain information I have not given consent for my computers hard drive to become overburdened with many of these gluttonous files.

I think this shows one of the problems with the very new concept and practice of making information computer readable. A streamlined means of visually accessing information and using it immediately, instead of having to download massive file after massive file, is apparently not here yet. I suspect it will come but the question is when. As government entities try to switch from paper based information to electronic information, these difficulties can be seen as growing pains. Once enough attempts have been made using the current approach, usability difficulties will raise attention to administrators and collaborative solutions should follow. I hope that practice will come soon. In the meantime, my computer hard drive is growing uneasy.

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One response

17 09 2009
steveearley

This is a problem in all sectors. I wrote a comment earlier this month saying that the mission of tomorrow’s publishers will be less about providing content then helping users find it and organize it.

This is a huge opportunity for newspapers. As much as their standing has declined, they’re still one of people’s first stops when seeking information on a wide variety of topics, especially those of a local nature. Papers would be wise to pool their resources to lure some of the bright minds that typically would go to Google or Yahoo and have them develop search systems specifically for their product.

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