Federal Government Meanders Into 21st Century.

Like many a candidate before him, Barack Obama rode to electoral victory on the promise of "Change." We could debate endlessly about whether that promise has been delivered, but there's one area where it's definitely in process. They have a substantial way to go, but the feds have made lots of progress on getting their Web presence into the 21st century.

Until recently, most federal Web sites looked utterly craptastic, like the FCC's Web site (in their defense, it's under revision, and the new one will surely be better). There are hundreds of federal sites, and some of them are still awful, but many of them are looking quite modern, and even usable. And when the Treasury Department unveiled its jazzy new $100 bill, they invested in a site with computer-generated video and interactive graphics:

Money.JPG

It would be easy to look at this kind of stuff as a waste of taxpayer money. But it isn't at all. We want people to interact with their government, and that means the government's Web presence should be visually inviting and informative. As I said, there are many federal Web sites that still stink. But they're getting better all the time. Maybe that hopey changey thing is working out for us!

-- Paul Waldman

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