NARA Crowdsourcing Classification Reform

These days our friends at the National Archives don’t need any help from me in promoting their many social media efforts, but I think what’s happening at the new Transforming Classification blog is truly innovative and noteworthy, and I’d like to highlight it here and encourage all of you to participate and spread the word among other archivists and records professionals, as well as among people in the user community who have in classification issues.

Sponsored by the Public Interest Declassification Board, the blog is intended to provide a forum for discussion of key elements of the Board’s proposed “transformation” of the U.S. security classification system. The format? “Every other Wednesday over the next eight weeks, we will post either two or three ‘white paper’ synopses to the blog describing an element of our proposed transformation.” The public is encouraged to comment and participate in discussion on the proposed reforms through comments on the blog post for each topic. The conversation and postings will continue through May 4, and the responses received will be used by the Board as it finalizes its proposals for the President.

The first two “white papers” have been posted, and they truly are synopses, no longer than a typical blog post. The topics are Using Technology to Improve Classification and Declassification and Reconsidering Information Management in the Electronic Environment. So far commenting has been sparse, to say the least, and I know there are many, many people in the archives and records community who could add value to this discussion. This is exactly the kind of openness and participatory activity many have wanted NARA to adopt, so I hope to soon see some intelligent and probing questions and responses appear in the comments.


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