The United Nations website is filled with a wealth of useful information and news about the world we live in, from on-the-ground updates on conflicts and security crises to statistical data on every country on the planet. And yet it tends to hoard that information to be mostly consumed by a small population of diplomats and UN personnel.
This is far from the vision of the UN Secretary General espoused when he said in 2002 that the UN was
the natural home of “information hubs”, virtual centres of data, dialogue, and focused collaboration that address the many substantive issues facing the United Nations at any point in time.
( “Information and Communication Technology Strategy.” United Nations. Report, 2002. )
If the UN is to be seen as an information hub, its going to have to be an open and transparent one, with easily accessible modes of extracting information and sharing it. It shouldn’t have taken years of effort for the UN’s Official Document System to get put online and free for the general public.
One simple tool that the UN should implement immediately is adding an RSS feed to their daily news service. The UN News Centre puts out lots of positive, informative press releases, statements and reports every day that would be readily consumed by thousands of citizens out there if these were made available by RSS. Sure, they have an email subscription service, but these tends to block up your in-box and you often forget to read the one article in the day that interested you. RSS feeds are easier to skim and pick out the ones you actually care to read.
Nearly every day the United Nations gets killed by the hyper-conservative press and blogosphere, and very little of their message gets out to counteract the impression that its just a huge bureaucracy that offers legitimacy to thugocracies and dictators. An RSS feed — ideally multiple RSS feeds by issue-area, language group and region — would at least give ammunition to those saner voices out there who want to defend international cooperation and global governance.