Monday, November 02, 2009

Cracks in the Adobe

The Sunlight Foundation has posted an editorial that asserts "Adobe is Bad for Government" and questions the hypocrisy involved in how this proprietary software company is adopting the popular language of "open" government on websites like Adobe Opens Up in order to promote its products. However, transparency advocates at Sunlight complain that even the Adobe PDF format makes it difficult for health care legislation to be searchable and remixable.

So next week, Adobe's having a conference here to tell Federal employees why they ought to be using "Adobe PDF, and Adobe® Flash® technology" to make government more open. They've spent what seems to be millions of dollars wrapping buses in DC with Adobe marketing materials all designed to tell us how necessary Adobe products are to Obama's Open Government Initiative. They've even got a beautiful website set up to tout the government's use of Flash and PDF, and are holding a conference here next week to talk about how Government should use ubiquitous and secure technologies to make government more open and interactive.

Here at the Sunlight Foundation, we spend a lot of time with Adobe's products-- mainly trying to reverse the damage that these technologies create when government discloses information. The PDF file format, for instance, isn't particularly easily parsed. As ubiquitous as a PDF file is, often times they're non-parsable by software, unfindable by search engines, and unreliable if text is extracted.

As a recipient of mail for "Adobe Government Solutions," I can attest to how special tutorials and workshops for government employees are direct e-mail marketed. Next week I can attend a session on Photoshop Lightroom 2 for design savvy civil servants on matters of such civic import as creating "proper digital exposure," importing images, and making virtual copies. (See above.)

Thanks to Michael Powers for the link to the Sunlight editorial.

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