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The FCC's Reboot Hub Makes Its Public Debut

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, January 7 2010

Chair Julius Genachowski might have a particular interest in "rebooting" the Federal Communications Commission that he heads up on the very day that his expected request for an extra month to develop a national broadband strategy was pre-empted by one of his fellow commissioner's expression of disappointment with the ask. Until now open only to FCC staffers themselves, has just opened itself up to the general public. Genachowski is slated to officially announce the launch of the site in his talk at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this afternoon tomorrow at noon.

Encouragingly, the first substantive post on the Reboot FCC blog deals with redesigning the main website itself. That might seem trivial, given the FCC's many, um, challenges. But I've suggested in the past that beyond just being an unnecessary eyesore, the fact that the Federal Communications Commission's website is seemingly guided by the sentiment that it is angry at its users actually bleeds into policy, into participatory democracy. Stakeholders in all that the FCC oversees have other channels for working with the Commission and figuring out what the powerful body is up to. But you can only feel bad for the rest of us who need to use the poorly architected website to engage with the commission. Political exclusion through bad UI, I've called it. Hey, would you like that press release in Word or PDF?

The Genachowski FCC seems to recognize that sometimes a website isn't just a website:

The FCC’s website should not be considered as just another IT project, but rather a core business function. Even after the building blocks are in place and we have an idea in hand for the design, a redesign cannot be implemented (or will quickly fail after launch) if it is not backed up by a comprehensive strategic plan as the official roadmap for an orderly and sustainable transition to an improved FCC web presence. With your help and the proper plan in place, we will be empowered to organize the site’s content and services through an information infrastructure that is streamlined, task oriented, user-centric and self-service. Consistency, usability, relevance, innovation, compatibility, clarity, accuracy, timeliness, and accessibility will become the watchwords for content and applications across the full spectrum of the agency's web presence.

Check it out.