Block Justified Text is Hard to Read

It seems like my blog is becoming the place where I air my pet peeves.  Well I have a “bee in my bonnet” that I want to talk about… :-p

I read a lot of blogs.  One thing that drives me crazy is when bloggers block justify their paragraphs.   For some reason, I have a hell of a time reading these.

Anybody else feel my pain?

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BarCampWashingtonDC Tentative Date Change

The hardest part of setting up a conference is getting the right venue and then locking in the date accordingly.

In order to get the best venue possible for BarCampWashingtonDC, we have tentatively changed (98% permanently) the event date to August 10th (opening party) and August 11th (conference sessions).

We hope to announce the venue soon.  *crosses fingers and toes* It’s just tough to find the right spot to house 100 geeks that has free wifi and outlets.

We have also launched an event Web site…. check it out at:
http://barcampdc.org/ 

Thanks to Jason and his crew for their HTML/CSS wizardy in doing the site.

The BarCampWashingtonDC site also has a paypal account.  If you wanna sponsor the event, feel free to drop in some lovin’.  We accept donations up to $250.

Sign-Up for BarCampWashingtonDC

So in 3 weeks, we have been making some pretty good progress on BarCampWashingtonDC.

We’re shooting for 100 campers. If you haven’t already signed up to attend, go to the wiki and do it right now.

We’re also looking for more sponsors. If you or your company want to sponsor BarCampWashingtonDC, drop me a line. We’re looking to give out free food, t-shirts, and prizes for all who participate in the event. Together we can make it happen.

W3C eGov: Jeffrey C. Griffith on “Beyond Transparency: New Standards for Legislative Information Systems”

Note: These are rough notes from the W3C Workshop on eGovernment and the Web.  It is being held in Washington DC on June 18th-19th.

A legislative information systems are the systems that are designed by the legislative bodies to make their systems available to the public and themselves.

Who makes them?  This is tough.  There is no CEO of Congress or Parliament.  Before THOMAS there were 7 stove piped LIS systems.

Everyone uses LIS systems.  People are using the Web to find out more information about politics and their politicians.

One of the challenges is that legislative documents can be very cryptic and complex.  There are complex procedures.  There are readings without readings.  Sometimes yes means no and no means yes.

Gingrich authorized the LC to put up the THOMAS system.   The initial system was there but weak.  The public loved it.  Bills were available to the public at the same time they were open to members.

Staff wanted more.   The liked some of the features of the old legacy systems.

There were some additional standards that had to be met.  The documents needed to be accurate.  The systems needed to point to the right documents.  What is timeliness?  Hours? Same Day? Next Day?  Things should be complete.  Everything that is relevant and useful should be linked.  The document should be clear and explained.   There is also context.

A comparative study was done between the US Congress and the European Parliament.  There needs to be better integration of related information/documents.  There is some integrated data like CRS summary or CBO budget estimates.

What’s exciting is when the public sector gets involved.  There are things like OpenCongress.org  There is information on the bill but also links to blogs talking about it.

We need to start filling in the gaps.  We need technologists who are familiar with the legislative process who can talk with Congress when they’re aware.

There are too many impediments within the institutions so public sector use of the data will be important.

W3C eGov: Kevin Novak on “Government as a Participant in Social Networks. Adding Authority to the Conversation”

Note: These are rough notes from the W3C Workshop on eGovernment and the Web.  It is being held in Washington DC on June 18th-19th.

The world is changing.  Over half of the World’s population is under 17.  We need to change to accomodate these new users.  More people are connected to the Web and go often.

We need to be starting a participatory volunteerism.  Its community based interaction, sharing, assistance, managing, and changing.

It’s about relating what you’re doing to the user. How do you allow the participation when you’re the authoritative source?

We have a very diverse user base: Scholars/Researchers, Teachers, Students, Librarians, Publishers, and Public.

In the Web 2.o space, online libraries are really content and media companies.  We must compete in a dynamic world of the Internet and strive to maintain relevance.

The Library is a 207 year old institution.  We don’t do anything quickly.  The technology and the users are changing.  We need to compete.

RSS is now available.  The LC has launched a Meta Search and Beta Search.  LC was a beta tester of the Open Site Maps Project.  In the future there will be podcast, second life, flickr, tag clouds, widgets, and much more.

The blog has become very popular.  There has been traffic coming into the site because they visited the blog.

There are currently 18 RSS feeds currently available.  By the end of the summer there will be one for THOMAS.

We will be putting images on Flickr.  We want to get the photos out there, see how people use our photos,  and see how people tag our photos.   Flickr has been very co-operative.

We want to meet users in their worlds through Second Life.

By the end of the summer there will be widgets.  One will be for Today in History.  There will be others for our thematic portals.  Hopefully it will drive traffic back to the LC site.

W3C eGov: Anil Saldhana on “Secure E-Government Portals- Building a web of trust and convenience for global citizens”

Note: These are rough notes from the W3C Workshop on eGovernment and the Web.  It is being held in Washington DC on June 18th-19th.

Just like when a citizen talks to a Government representative and trusts them, he should be able to have the same trust when the citizen goes to a government Web site.

Average Joes want to be able to use the services.  People get scammed.  We have to make sure that we provide Average Joe with secure services.

According to a report,  senior citizens are the fastest growing on-line audience, who will double by 2010.  The US IRS Web site had 13.5 million unique visitors in March 2007.

Portals are a one stop shop for information.  Secure portals are necessary.

The different parties are the users, the browsers (technical clients), government services, software, and the communication medium.   All of these parties have to work at making things secure.

End-users can be insecure and error prone.  Delegate as much responsibility as possible to technology.  The W3C Security Context Working Group is trying to establish some type of visual trust context to help the user feel reasonably secure. Use SSL or SRP.

Use a federated identity that allows the user a single authentication service and access multiple heterogeneous services.   There is OpenID.

Getting buy-in into a single IT installation from various departments and organizations of a Government is difficult.

W3C eGov: J.L. Needham on “Ensuring government is only one search away: Implementing the Sitemap protocol”

Note: These are rough notes from the W3C Workshop on eGovernment and the Web.  It is being held in Washington DC on June 18th-19th.

Google is working to make sure that they’re working with government and evangelizing Google’s FREE services.

Google’s biggest focus isn’t site search.  It’s Web search.  There was a recent NY Times article on search results quality.  There is another side which is crawling the pages to find all that exists.

Some of the biggest barriers is that content is hidden by a search form.  There can be a robots.txt which tells the crawler not to crawl.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms prevents all search engine crawling with a robots.txt file.   Google’s index doesn’t recognize the acronym ATF.

US Gov is the largest publisher of the world’s data.  The data is put into databases for easy access but unless correctly structured a search engine can not crawl it.

This is important because of the value that is places on public sector information.  People trust .gov more than .com.  It’s unbias and free.

Microsoft, Yahoo, Ask, and Google have come together to agree on a common SiteMap standard.   This can make all Web services accessible to search engine crawlers.  It is pretty easy to implement.

There are 4 parameters:

  • location
  • last modification date
  • change frequency
  • priority

PlainLanguage.gov successfully implemented the sitemaps protocol in around 8 hours. Now the site is being crawled and added to search results.  When there are changes to the site, the sitemap is updated and uploaded.

There are now partnerships with about four states.

Searching has become the defacto way for people to find public sector information.