Friday, January 04, 2008

The Write Stuff

It's true that I tend to spend much of my bandwidth on criticisms of the government as a digital media-maker, a process that culminates in the annual Foley awards for Internet worsts produced by state interests. (See the 2006 and 2007 winners for more.)

And yet, even from the very beginning of writing this blog, I have also tried to recognize the occasional examples of competence and even foresight in constructing what Jane Fountain has called "The Virtual State."

This year, the best examples of combining information aesthetics with agitprop may have been the database mash-ups of activists, who combine public records with particular forms of political literacy, whether it is the Policy Analysis Database on farm subsidies or word trees with the testimony and speeches of government officials.

However, government agencies also produced some noteworthy digital media this year.

Best Use of YouTube

On the federal level, my pick would be the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which created a YouTube channel to explain the rights of teen workers. In state government, I like the YouTube channel of the California DMV, which is also trying to reach younger first-time drivers with useful information.

Best Blogging

The Department of Health and Human Services was ahead of the pack with its Pandemic Flu Leadership Blog. I only wish the blog of the Secretary of Health and Human Services was as well-written as the prose of this crew of guest bloggers.

Best Government Website

Even though they had an institutional template that used tired corporate graphic identity stand-bys, such as shadow type, the website of the Federal Reserve was a model of disclosure, despite the oligarchical character of the agency that it represented.

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