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The Daily's Eldercare robots article is rendered as a single, giant jpg image rather than as html text.

You’ll learn a few new things about robots and eldercare in this article from The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s new iPad-only news app. Unfortunately, though, you won’t be able to save any of it using the usual copy and paste routine for text because The Daily renders its web pages as single, large .jpg images. Try to save a Daily web page as a PDF and you’ll discover that you are able to save only an image of the first part of the article. This image is followed by a page of promotional text urging you to download The Daily iPad app. Saving the web page as an html document will save all of it, as will right-clicking (on PCs) of Control-clicking (on Macs).  In both cases, though, what you will save is one giant .jpg image, rather than searchable text.

As with the iPad app versions of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, The Daily provides an easy mechanism to send the link of the web version of a particular article to an email address. In addition, The Daily, like many other news apps, gives you the option to post a link on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The Daily’s links, however, lead to web page versions that are giant images of the article. In contrast, the New York Times’ and Wall Street Journal’s iPad- generated links lead to html text-rich web articles, which can be saved in a variety of ways as editable and searchable text. All three news apps allow, you, the iPad subscriber, to save a copy of the article to your iPad for later viewing. Note, though, that NONE of these three iPad news apps are yet searchable.  Nor are the articles you save from them to your iPad searchable. Neither are the AP, BBC News, or the Washington Post iPad apps. By contrast, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, Engadget, and Mashable all provide a search feature, however primitive.

Unlike the Wall Street Journal’s iPad edition, which keeps one week’s worth of issues available on the iPad, The Daily has a very short memory. When you, the subscriber to The Daily, tap on its app, the new version immediately overrides any previous version. In so doing, it cuts off your access to the articles from the previous edition (unless you stopped to save copies to your iPad). Unless you saved a copy of a particular article from the previous day to your iPad, posted a link to it on Facebook or Twitter, or emailed a link to yourself, you can kiss access to that article goodbye. This is both annoying and disturbing. Annoying, because it unnecessarily complicates your information-gathering routines. Disturbing, because it limits your access to news and information for which you’ve paid (starting Feb 23, when the free two week trial will end).

Visit The Daily’s web site (http://thedaily.com) and you’ll discover a site devoted to selling The Daily’s iPad app. Other than the few links provided daily on its blog, The Daily’s web site provides no access to articles other than through those links that you may have emailed and/or posted to Twitter and/or Facebook. The Daily’s blog’s few links lead to web pages that consist of single .jpg images of the articles, not to searchable html-based text.

Why has Mr. Murdoch made the decision to operate The Daily as the equivalent of disappearing ink? Why does he force you, the subscriber, to capture a glimpse and/or link to its iPad articles at the moment your view them, or risk not having access to that information again? Why does Mr. Murdoch so cavalierly disregard your need to have control over what and when you read? Why does he think the news has no past — that it should not be retrievable beyond today’s sell-date? Is it because he has decided that it’s easier and less expensive to produce the news in only one format? Or, does he hope to force those who wish to read The Daily’s articles to do so via its iPad app? Does he not realize that providing such a hobbled interface is unacceptable?

Interestingly enough, Part 2 of The Daily’s 2-part series on robots and eldercare (published today, February 14) is rendered in html text, although other articles from today’s edition are rendered, like Part 1 (published yesterday) as single, giant jpg images.

There’s no doubt about it:  many of the The Daily’s images are visually striking, and some of its articles are interesting, information-rich, and useful. But, all of the articles disappear from view too quickly. The articles that you do make the effort to save are image-bound and non-searchable. With so many information-friendly news apps available, including Mr. Murdoch’s own Wall Street Journal iPad app, why would you choose to use the here-today-gone-tomorrow Daily?

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In his Wednesday afternoon, January 21, 2009 article “New Year, New President, New Blogs,” New York Times’ Opinionator columnist Eric Etheridge reports that “Early reviews of the online administration are now coming in, and the site is being found wanting.” Etheridge quotes Dave Winers thoughtful assessment of the initial version of the site’s most glaring shortcoming that it “violates the most basic rule — ‘People come back to places that send them away.’ The White House should send us to places where our minds will be nourished with new ideas, perspectives, places, points of view, things to do, ways we can make a difference. It must take risks, because that is reality — we’re all at risk now — hugely.”

I added the following comment (which at this time the NYT notes is “awaiting moderation”) to the short list of reader comments:

“Like commenter Chris, I’m also disappointed by not being able to locate a fully-functioning archived copy of the Bush WhiteHouse.gov site. According to an August 14, 2008 news release (http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2008/08-139.html) by the Library of Congress, the LOC formed a partnership with the California Digital Library, the University of North Texas Libraries, the Internet Archive, and the GPO “to preserve public United States Government web sites at the end of the current presidential administration ending January 19, 2009.”

The “White House Archives” page (http://www.georgewbushlibrary.com/administration/archives) on the George W. Bush Presidential Center Web site states:.

“Coming Soon! An archived copy of the White House website will be available soon.”

How soon is “soon?”

In the pursuit of transparency and access to historical documents, the current WhiteHouse.gov site should include links to the archived copies of the Bush and Clinton White House sites.”

Archived copies of a number of versions of the Clinton WhiteHouse.gov are housed on the National Archives and Record Administration site and can be accessed and searched via the “White House Web Sites” page of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum site.

It would be easy enough for the web whizzes at the new WhiteHouse.gov to add information about and links to the archived Clinton and Bush WhiteHouse.gov sites. The archived Clinton sites exist, as noted above. Once “soon” arrives, the archived Bush site will also be an easy link. In the meantime, how long before “soon” becomes NOW?

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Archives Flash! Just discovered this information on the page entitled “White House Archives” on the George W. Bush Presidential Center Web site.

“Coming Soon!

An archived copy of the White House website will be available soon.”

What date is “soon?”

The following information about the management of the library and museum is included on the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s “Library and Museum” page: “After private funds are raised to construct the facility that will house The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, NARA will oversee the ongoing operation and maintenance of the facility and its contents.”

Versions of the Clinton White House web sites can be viewed and searched on the “White House Web Sites” page of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum site.

According to information provided on the “Research” page of the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, the Clinton Presidential Library is “one of eleven presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.”

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At 12:01 pm yesterday (January 20, 2009), the Obama administration’s New Media department replaced the Bush Whitehouse.gov with the Obama Whitehouse.gov site.  In the process, Obama’s Director of New Media, Macon Phillips, launched the Obama White House site with the first blog post entitled “Change has come to WhiteHouse.gov.”

Within minutes of the changeover, Twitter was abuzz with comments about the swiftness of this change, with some laudatory and others somewhat negative.  Comments included ones that noted an improvement in the level of information provided on the new site, others praising the overall excellence of the site’s new graphic design and underlying coding, as well as a few noting dissatisfaction over the lack of interactive features.

Shortly after the changeover, Jason Kottke contributed a blog post comparing the Bush robots.txt file (which “tells search engines what to include and not include in their indexes”) with the streamlined Obama robots.txt code.  This welcome change means that the new Whitehouse.gov site will be more search engine friendly than the old one!

Once the Bush site had been supplanted by the Obama site, many people (including yours truly) went in search of an archival-but-workable copy of the Bush WhiteHouse.gov site.

After a number of searches, however, I was unable to find a link to an archived copy of the Bush Whitehouse.gov site on either the official U.S. government archives site (the National Archives and Record Administration) or on the Library of Congress Digital Collections and Services site.

I did find copies of abbreviated versions of the Whitehouse.gov site from 1996 through March 2008 archived on the Internet Archives site.

In the process of searching for an archived copy of the Bush White House site, I found the 2000 Clinton site archived on the National Archives site. Try as I might, though, I could NOT find a copy of the archived Bush Whitehouse.gov on the National Archives site. Perhaps I’ve been looking in all the wrong places…

On January 19, the Free Government Information (FGI) site posted a call for help capturing “disappearing” government web sites while there’s still time to capture the content.  Anyone smart enough to have saved a copy of the Bush Whitehouse.gov site to his/her own disk, should contact the Free Government Information site staff.

A number of clever web denizens did take screen captures of the Bush’s Whitehouse.gov site approximately 30 minutes before it was replaced by the Obama site.  One of these, entitled Before & After: WhiteHouse.gov, provides a screen capture of the Bush Whitehouse.gov as well as one of the new Obama site. Another, taken at 10:44 am on January 20, 2009, offers a fuller screen shot of the Bush Whitehouse.gov homepage.

The New York Times’ provided an early take on the Obama Whitehouse.gov site in the article “Obama Renovates WhiteHouse.gov” by Saul Hansell.

The Denver Post’s January 20, 2009 article “Whitehouse.gov makes its transition” discusses the fact that the uploading of the new Obama site effectively vanquished access to the Bush files.

According to a quotation from Sharon Fawcett, the National Archives’ Director of Presidential Libraries, that appeared in the FederalNewsRadio article “Inauguration spells change for change.gov” on January 20, 2009, the National Archives does have an archived version of the Bush site.  But where, O where, is it? This inquiring mind wants to know!

On August 14, 2008, the Library of Congress posted the news release “Library Partnership Preserves End-of-theTerm Government Web Site,” which notes plans for dealing with the changeover from one administration to the other.

Mentioned in the August 14, 2008 article are the Library of Congress Web Capture Program and the LOC’s Web Archives (LCWA).  When I checked each of the links provided in the Aug 14, 2008 press release, neither one provided information about or access to an archived Bush Whitehouse.gov Web site. Equally troubling is the fact that the archived copies of congressional Web sites appear to have stopped at 2004 (or, at the very least, links to archived copies are not provided on this page).

Using the email form on the Whitehouse.gov site as well as one on the National Archives and Record Administration site, I sent email queries to both asking where the archived Bush Whitehouse.gov files can be viewed. I haven’t heard back from either site yet.

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