Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for posting on MIT’s Government Information Awareness initiative. As stated in this Houston Chronicle article,

GIA hopes to create an enormous but self-sustaining community where users do the work of keeping it running and credible.

Its creators at Media Lab — a research center whose eclectic projects bridge technology, the arts and media — view the project not just as a way to pool the collective wisdom of government watchdogs but also as a tool to counter new government technologies that are consolidating information about citizens.

This is the same kind of decentralized, networked information-sharing thinking that underpins the internet generally, and open-source software specifically. I hope that in conjunction with the efforts of The Electronic Frontier Foundation (mission: with digital rights and freedom for all …), such decentralized networks lead to increasingly clear notions of private rights and government responsibilities to respect those rights.

Oooh, there I go being an optimist again!

UPDATE: This “about” sub-page on the GIA website has a very interesting quote from Franklin Roosevelt:

The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its soverieign control over its government.

It also indicates how transparent an institution this information network is intended to be: note at the bottom the section titled “Data Model”, where you can see how the information is gathered, analyzed, and connected. Fascinating, and a very healthy example of transparency of process to increase credibility of outcome.

I’ll be very interested to keep an eye on this one …