"The way a typical US transparency project works is pretty simple. You find a government database, work hard to get or parse a copy, and then put it online with some nice visualizations.
"The problem is that reality doesn’t live in the databases. Instead, the databases that are made available, even if grudgingly, form a kind of official cover story, a veil of lies over the real workings of government. If you visit a site like GovTrack, which publishes information on what Congresspeople are up to, you find that all of Congress’s votes are on inane items like declaring holidays and naming post offices. The real action is buried in obscure subchapters of innocuous-sounding bills and voted on under emergency provisions that let everything happen without public disclosure."
This is why I have been advocating for automatic open records. I don't want to have secondary information and data from South Kingstown's Town and School Administrations. I want the information work products of the tools they use to be automatically available to me. I don't want see an edited and polished representation. I want the actual thing.
Swartz goes on to say
[...] so I want to add a helpful alternative: journalism. Investigative journalism lives up to the promise that transparency sites make."
I could not agree more with him. This is the role of journalism. Let the role of "news" be handled by the services of machines digesting the data coming from automatic open records. Let the journalists do the intellectually stimulating and demanding job of investigation. (And the import job of cultural reporting.) I doubt that Liz Boardman will miss attending another pro-forma Town Council meeting.