Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Spam RSS more informative than politicians

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-04-27


You’d expect the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (or at least his highly-paid spinners) to be net-savvy enough to produce a usable news feed.  Think again.

An 8 year old using a freebie blogging service can do better than those who are supposed to be leading us into the future, the expert in innovation and industry!

He is not the only one: just about every single one of the Australian Government’s media releases (point your feedreader to http://media.australia.gov.au/rss.cgi) has the same headline, the same teaser body, or both are the same.

Back to Kim Carr’s feed:

Each item has the same heading and teaser – not exactly useful to people who want to keep an eye on what our political overlords are saying.  Perhaps our representatives don’t want their mouthings easily discovered by people with the interest and expertise to debunk their propaganda and decisions.

OK, I fibbed about each feeditem being exactly the same: the embedded date changes, but that’s all.  Obscuring the date, each feeditem from Kim Carr is as follows:

  • Headline: Minister – Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
  • Teaser Body: What’s New EMAIL UPDATES SITE INDEX FEEDBACK IISR Minister Senator the Hon Kim Carr Print this page Email this page Media Release Senator the Hon Kim Carr DD Mon YYYY. Sign In

KRudd and Gillard’s feeds at least have different headlines that let you know the subject, but again, what appears in the body of the item in your Google Reader is useless, and as follows:

  • KRudd Teaser Body: Jump to main navigation Jump to page content Go to search Home Site Search A-Z Index Latest News Media Hub News Centre Alerts and RSS Feeds Video Clips Education Revolution
  • Gillard Teaser Body: Skip To Content Skip To Navigation Media Centre Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio. Media Centre home Julia Gillard Brendan O’Connor Kate Ellis Maxine McKew

Media releases from the Department of Human Services: they don’t want you to figure out who has made the media release from the headline…. all of them are the same – not even a date that changes!

  • Heading: Media Release
  • Teaser Body: Skip to content Department of Human Services australia.gov.au Homepage About us Choose your language Contact us Feedback Subscribe Report Fraud home media csamediarelease.

That’s the level of a service for us humans from the Department of Human services: consistently useless!

An 8 year-old, even just with a shared items feed from tagging articles written by others, or even spamming websites that indiscriminately aggregate articles give you more information, simply by displaying the first paragraph of text.

Other Australian Government Media Releases have headings that say "Microsoft Word", or have a http url as the title – again – pretty useless.

How do other politicians like backbenchers and oppositions keep abreast of what is going on.  They are certainly not able to use the most efficient way of scanning announcements from ministers or agencies!  Ditto for journalists.

Either our political masters are technologically ignorant, or want to keep us in the dark.  At the very least they should demand their money back from their highly-paid media consultants.

At least CSIRO types (well, they are geeks) are competent, or just know how to get competent media advisors, as you’ll see via http://www.csiro.au/news/mediacentre/whatsnew.xml:

  • Headline: Population: the lost priority ( Media release 22 Apr 08 )
  • Teaser Body: Politicians, planners and policy-makers are overlooking the fundamental impact of booming population at their peril say three Australian authorities interviewed for the latest issue of Ecos.

Efficient, informative, accurate and straight-talking: that’s what we need.

Perhaps we should ditch our politicians and replace them with the guys and gals in white coats!

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7 Responses to “Spam RSS more informative than politicians”

  1. Scraps said

    It’s not scientists or technology that create a good feed result like CSIRO’s, it’s editorial guidelines and quality control that ensure that the fields of headline and teaser are filled out in way that remain meaningful when content is reused.

  2. Dave Bath said

    Scraps,
    You are absolutely right – it’s QA and defining what you want to achieve. It’s a MIS-MANAGEMENT issue.

    Perhaps the managers at CSIRO have a science/engineering background, understand the need for rigor (they’d have been squashed, infected, irradiated or poisoned in their uni days otherwise), and therefore test what they buy against their needs. This approach is sorely lacking in our politicians – so maybe a few more sci/eng types as MPs is a pre-requirement to good admin.

    BTW: My mates LOVED Barry Jones visiting their labs – he was the only pollie who regarded visiting labs as a treat for him rather than an honor for the scientists, and always managed to ask tough questions about their work – because he’d probably read everyone’s thesis in the car on the way.

  3. […] better RSS from industry.gov.au 2008-05-19 — Dave Bath As noted elsewhere, the RSS feeds for the minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research via the Australian […]

  4. Graham said

    These feeds (also from the Dept of Innovation) look to be pretty good:

    http://www.business.gov.au/BepSyndication2005/ClientInterfaces/RssNews.aspx

  5. Dave Bath said

    Graham,
    Yes, there are islands of competence about… which makes failures of the more widely-used aggregated feeds inexcusable.

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