Monday, February 19, 2007

Not That This is a Hint or Anything, George

In honor of Presidents' Day, it's worth noting that the State of Maryland has acquired Washington's resignation speech, a famous example of traditional oratory in which the man who would eventually become our first Chief Executive acknowledged the importance of a limiting his power and the value of civilian rule. The State Archives worked hard to get the draft of the document out of private hands, so I hope that they will exhibit the speech online after the official unveiling ceremony tonight.

In visiting Maryland's sites in cyberspace that represent their identity as a virtual state, I was surprised to see how little they used the multimedia, social media, and metadata features that characterize websites in more tech savvy states like California. Maryland's official website was a remarkably barebones affair, although its right navigation seemed to at least anticipate the basic needs of the electorate for information. Its official kids' page was one of the worst I had ever seen: bare folders, many of which led to dead links, would not be nearly as helpful for children doing assigned reports as a sequence of electronic documents more obviously aimed at improving their information literacy as citizens and skills of interpretation as amateur historians.



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