Archive for August, 2007

Why I hate Government Web Sites These Days

August 14, 2007

This is a rant, pure and simple. OK, so here’s the deal. Lately, I have been following a trail on renewable energy, and I am finding it damn hard to get the data.

It used to be, you could go to almost any U.S. Government web site, and you could find a link that led to some really geeky data sources. If you felt so inclined, you could download pure raw data, and you could download all the documentation that went with it. There was even an email address for the technical staffer responsible for assembling the data, and other email addresses for the geeks in the field who collected the raw data. Almost always, if you had a question, you could write them and they would respond with either a direct answer or point you to someone who could.

Now, it’s all different. You go to almost any government web site, what do you get? You get the name of the administrator and all their minions. If you click on their name, you get served up a resume of all the wonderful things the administrator has done and all the bland talk of how wonderful the future of this department will be. Blah, Blah, Blah. Do you get an email address? No. Do you get direct links to data? No. You have to run around in circles with the successive links leading you back to where you started. The data? Dumbed down graphics that tell you almost nothing. Raw data? Forgettaboutit. You know it exists, because they had to make the nice pretty graphics from it. Or, maybe they just made shit up and put it up on the page to make it look like they are doing important stuff.

OK, I’m done now.