'Create once, publish everywhere' model comes to government

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An effort to structure government content under a "create once, publish everywhere" model will help agencies adapt, share and syndicate information, Lakshmi Grama of the National Cancer Institute said Nov. 7.

Grama, the senior digital strategist in the NCI's Office of Communications and Education, said during a HowTo.gov webinar that ideally, agencies shouldn't have to alter content to publish it anew on their websites, mobile sites and social media platforms.

Structured content can be plugged into different formats automatically. Grama described one such transition that the NCI made with its fact sheets, each a collection of questions and answers on a particular topic.

"They were all in HTML on the website as one big blob," she said. Her team structured each question-and-answer pair as an individual element so the fact sheets could be reformatted easily.

Now, on mobile devices, the questions can be clicked to expand and collapse each one's answer. On a desktop browser, the entire text fills the page, with no need to collapse the answers, since screen size is not in short supply.

Much of the government's data is not so flexible. Agencies often publish content as PDF documents, a convenient way to publish content to the web initially, but a format that traps content, making it difficult to extract and apply elsewhere.

Grama acknowledged the massive undertaking that restructuring all government content would be, so she suggested agencies focus on high-value content or that which draws the most users.

She is part of an interagency working group working to restructure government content. The group is currently developing a model for event listings on agency websites, which would allow agencies to take information about their events and display it across multiple communication channels.

For more:
- go to the webinar page (presentation slides and archived webcast available)

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