— aleatory

Government Information Flow Online

bit.flow image courtesy Marc Wathieu

A grand title, considering the relatively niche aspect of government communications that piqued my interest in the subject. But it’s something that should perhaps be given much greater emphasis as society increasingly interacts with the state online.

I got the link to my regional government’s draft budget on twitter via a url shortening service run by the department in question. Nothing radical about that except for the fact they chose to use ‘.me’ as the top level domain – a snappy TLD that is utilised by many url shorteners no doubt (including a friend’s) but also one that is run by a foreign government – Montenegro in this case.

I’m not about to suggest Montenegro, a superbly sunny state similar in size to NI and one which I’ve had the good fortune to visit, is about to turn rogue. But there are potential issues with using foreign TLDs, sufficiently to warrant a second opinion by government on whether they should be relying on such a service.

And this is the point about info flow for government online. Links are obviously the lifeblood of the internet and anything aiding the sharing them is to be encouraged. URL shorteners are predominantly used for temporary communication. But surely it’s important for government services that they can guarantee their links will not go stale, whether due to shortener natural ‘overwriting’ or overseas issues beyond their control?

In the real world, lost communications cost government and people money. The same is true online.

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