Friday, February 22, 2008

Beware the "Google is King" Strategy

This morning, I read another article about what’s going on with government websites in Great Britain. For those who don’t know, they’re in the process of shutting down many (most?) of their websites, focusing on two supersites: DirectGov and BusinessLink. Actually, I like that idea.

But the thing the struck me about this article is that, apparently, some officials in Great Britain – like some of the officials at our own Office of Management and Budget – think that all we need to do is post our vast government libraries online and let citizens use Google to sort it out. It’s not a bad concept. But is it really “public service?” Is our only responsibility to the public to make information available? Or do we have a responsibility to help the public find what they want and use it?

I still think there is value to organization, navigation, and - most of all - pointing out a path to follow toward the goals citizens want to achieve, on government websites. That's the value that web managers/editors can add. That’s something that Google cannot do.

Web managers need to be ready to address the “Google is King” thinking because if that becomes our government’s web strategy, then web managers could end up being relegated to the role of (as Gerry McGovern calls it) "putter uppers."

No comments: