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Doubting THOMAS

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, September 13 2010

In an article recapping a recent Gov 2.0 get-together at Microsoft's Cambridge research center, the Boston Globe's D.C. Denison quotes one "alternative energy activist" as a skeptic of the notion of a more open government. Here's Denison, quoting the skeptic: "'Remember Thomas.gov?,' he asked, referring to the ambitious 'open government' initiative of the mid-1990s. 'How much of a difference did that make?'"

Skepticism about the transformative effect of open government isn't surprising. But going after THOMAS seems a curious example. THOMAS.gov is the Library of Congress's public-facing online database of legislative information and congressional records, launched by the 104th Congress, back in the mid-'90s Republican Revolution years. At the very least, it seems like the United States is better off having more access to verified congressional information that we'd be without it. But I'm a skewed judge -- I use THOMAS all the time. Am I missing something? Is there a general sense floating around out there that THOMAS is an open-government bust?

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New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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