though sometimes controversial, are generally accepted by the public as appropriate provided certain practices are followed.
Given this situation, governments may want to consider either following the public library model or perhaps even housing their Internet resources under an existing public library organization. Following the public library model, public managers could loosen their self constraints regarding linking to outside resources. However, such loosening of restraints would need to be accompanied by the adoption of practices that are not yet common among government Internet units. Specifically, governments that linked to non-public-sector outside resources would need to ensure that these links were explicitly marked and labeled in ways that would provide the user with clear signals that they were leaving the government's Web site; and provide certain metadata about the outside resource (e.g. sponsored by a partisan political organization, provided by a commercial firm, or approved by a registered non-profit organization, etc.).
Who Should Control Personalization or Customization?
Personalization and customization in general refers to the ability of an Internet Web site or service to be shaped or re-shaped so as to better meet the individual needs or wants of a user.
As the terms are often used interchangeably, it is possible, and perhaps important, to make a distinction between instances where citizens, customers or clients make choices about what they will be exposed to and in cases where a government agency or service provider selects or prioritizes the information to be delivered to a user of its online information services. Some have suggested that the term "personalization" should refer to the former cases where personal choice is involved, and the term "customization" should be used to refer to agency efforts to make information or service features personally relevant to a citizen or consumer. As with most other aspects of digital technology, the choice between the two types of personalization need not be an either/or one. Rather, because these technologies are infinitely mutable, it is possible to fashion Internet services that embody some degree of both types of personalization (or in the more precise terminology, both personalization and customization).
The Appropriate Locus of Control Over Personalization
In a non-Internet world, the control over a personalized service tends to reside by default with the owners of the personalization technology. For example, one of the goals of the data-matching studies of social-service clients (i.e. studies that attempted to identify when two or more agencies were serving the same clients) was to enable the personalization of service delivery by government human service agencies. However, all of the data used for personalization and the personalization choices that were made in the social services areas where these studies were conducted were entirely under the control of the agencies themselves. In an Internet-based personalization system, governments may still own the server side of the system, but it becomes possible for citizens or clients (in both the programmatic and technical senses) to access and potentially control certain system parameters.
Allowing citizens to fully control the content of their personalized government Web portal (or one-stop government information and service delivery Web site) is an attractive option from the point of view of likely service satisfaction. Some cyberspace theorists (see: Shapiro, 1999; Lessig, 1999), however, have expressed concern about the potential for citizens making personalization choices that would severely limit their exposure to information that might challenge their current points of view or prejudices. The key policy issue in this regard is whether or to what extent governments should enable users of their Web sites to insulate themselves from issues, ideas, or data that might differ from or contrast with their current views of the world. Governments that accede to the public's wishes in this regard are likely to be more popular than governments that do not. Over the long term, however, governance may