According to today’s New York Times, the White House has enacted a new e-mail system that makes it significantly harder for people to jot off notes to the President (and, one would imagine, many other top elected officials). Instead of simply addressing an e-mail to, now people have to negotiate nearly a dozen web pages, choosing from restrictive pre-selected subjects and indicating whether or not they agree with the present stance of the White House on whatever issue concerns them. (Note that I’ve been trying to verify the claims of the Times article all morning, but the new website and the site it redirects to have been down pretty much since I got to work.)

On the good side, the process apparetly does include a verification step — once an e-mail is sent to the President, a confirmation is mailed to the original sender which includes a mechanism for proving that that person was the author of the e-mail. That’s the sort of thing that is probably important, given that the from line of e-mail is too easy to forge, and there are plenty of reasons it’s important to know whether or not letters to the Chief Executive are legitimate.

And on the funny side, as seems to be the case lately, the Times could stand to do a little digging before choosing who to use as an article’s prime source. Tom Matzzie, the AFL-CIO organizer mentioned in the third paragraph as one of the first people to discover (and be affected by) the new e-mail system, is described towards the end of the article as “a professional Web site designer.” Elsewhere on the web, Matzzie’s involvement with the AFL-CIO is described as its Online Mobilization Manager, its Internet communications manager, and the organization’s webmaster. Given that the article’s entire purpose is to complain about the new, restrictive forms-based approach to communicating with the White House, wouldn’t it be relevant that Matzzie’s own website has an incredibly similar, and similarly cumbersome, forms-based “Contact Us” page?


Actually, the process for sending a comment to the AFL-CIO is much easier. It is a one-page, one-step process off of the AFL-CIO website.

• Posted by: Tom Matzzie on Jul 27, 2003, 10:03 PM
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