Malamud's "By the People" - stirring history of the Government Printing Office

I've just finished reading Carl Malamud's remarkable pamphlet, By the People, the transcript of an address he gave to the Government 2.0 Summit in Washington, D.C., on September 10, 2009. Carl is the beloved "rogue librarian" who has done so much to liberate tax-funded government works, from movies to court rulings to the text of laws themselves, putting these public domain works on the Internet where they belong.

By the People is an inspirational and education piece on the history of the US Government Printing Office and the radical ethic that said that the governments documents belonged to the citizens who footed the bill for their production. Today, with the Internet making it more possible than ever for all of us to inspect the workings of our governments and benefit from their creations, that ethic is more important (and more endangered) than ever.

Text of By the People

Buy the pamphlet from Lulu

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  1. This post, coupled with your previous post about the right to have broadband go well together. One is the perfect argument for the other. Free broadband means the cheap and easy dissemination of information to the populace, streaming audio/video webcasts of sessions of congress. Archived videos, streamed via a youtube like site, of previous sessions or meetings of government officials.

    I think the only reason you don’t have the saturation of information now is the issue of money. As Mr. Malamud pointed out in the video, initially the information was printed at the whims of the newspapers, then it was published via a designated printing office. Now it would seem silly not to upload all of those documents to the web. Give each department its own server, and each department is required to produce a digital copy (of each hard copy) of every law, manual, suggestion, amendment, criticism, and publish the transcripts to every public meeting held.

  2. I agree; archived videos, streamed via a youtube like site, of previous sessions or meetings of government officials. Even for self publishing endeavors, broadband means the cheap and easy dissemination of information to everyone.

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