I just noticed that Slashdot reports that the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has adopted their new information access policy. What is interesting with this is that this new policy supposedly is heavily influenced by what hundreds of Slashdotters has said, pushing them in the direction of open standards and public access.
This made me think about something that has been discussed briefly in KOM since Staffan became obsessed with laws: why doesn't the Swedish government provide, for example, our complete law texts in a vendor-neutral, machine-readable format for public download? In fact, they even go so far as to block robot access to the primary source of law texts, Rixlex, using robots.txt! (Possibly violating our "free press act" (Tryckfrihetsförordningen)? Staffan has blogged about this, too.) Swedes often talk about our open and transparent society, with rigid bureaucracy in place to ensure that all citizens have access to all public records and writings, with few exceptions. One would think that, given Swedens willingness to commit to an open government, the government should provide raw data and free access to any electronic information available. This obviously isn't done.
Now, the discussions that were in KOM was: how do we actually lobby for a change for the better in this area? Who do we talk to in order to make the government aware that standardised and free access to public records and laws would not only be "the right thing to do" in a democratic sense, it would also allow ambitious entrepreneurs to figure out new ways to publish and index that information in pursue of new businesses?
What struck me when I read the NOAA post on Slashdot was that we would need something like that to get the ball rolling - a frontpage Slashdot story might be a little overkill an issue that concerns a mere 9011273 people, but on the same time, it feels like the Swedish Slashdot equivalent Gnuheter is a forum a little too narrow to gain enough activism that can be heard. What we want in this case is to target three communities: the software people, the law people and the politically aware, all of which should be interested in a more open and information-aware society.