Not a Winner

Last month GovTrack was nominated as the entry for the United States in the e-Government category of the

, which is somehow part of the UN World Summit on Information Society. GovTrack wasn’t one of the 40 world-wide winners, but I was amused by the choice of winners in the e-Government category: the official website for the entire U.K. government, the official website of the city council of Brisbane, Australia, the official website of the city of Vancouver, Canada, and the official website to apply for a visa online for the Kingdom of Bahrain. (There was a fifth winner that wasn’t a website, which was possible, although it’s hard to see how something not a website can be judged together with websites.)

Clearly whoever nominated GovTrack did not understand the point of the category, or perhaps the whole award. So far, every winning site that I’ve looked at is run by some arm of a government. (Being affiliated with a government wasn’t part of the nomination process or judging criteria as far as I’m aware, which is a little odd if so many winners are coming from governments, right?)

I never took the award too seriously. First, I hadn’t heard of it, or the UN World Summit on Information Society, until someone told me my site was nominated. Then I had to sign a contract that, effectively, I haven’t violated anyone’s copyrights. I thought to myself, I didn’t ask to be in this competition in the first place, and now they want my signature so I can remain in the contest. Fine, but why are they nominating someone in the first place that they think is doing something they don’t like? There’s nothing to be won from the competition but maybe some name recognition, and the judging criteria has two categories that basically make no sense: “Quality of craftsmanship (technical realisation)” and “Strategic importance for the global development of the Information Society.” I haven’t a clue what those are supposed to mean.

I don’t like losing things, but this one I really never wanted to win.

There was quite a dearth of winners from the U.S.: 2 out of a possible 8 (maximum one per category). They were MedLine Plus, run by the U.S. government’s National Library of Medicine and NIH; and Lakota Winter Counts, from the Smithsonian. Given the number of websites in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world, it’s hard to believe Argentina, Bahrain (where the judging took place), and the Czech Republic would have just as many, each, as the U.S. I guess whoever was doing the U.S.’s nominating for the other categories had the same problem as in my category…