By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The e-mail story and the big picture

Ryan Cloutier, writing in Blast Magazine, interviews Kylie Heintz of a high-tech company called Barracuda Networks, who explains that Boston Mayor Tom Menino would be sleeping a lot more soundly these days if his tech people had installed an archival system instead of a back-up system.

No, they’re not the same thing.

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9 Comments

  1. Newshound

    Mumbles has a lot of reasons not to sleep well – this is starting to look like Nixon and Rose Mary Woods.

  2. Frank Smith

    It is time for this crew to leave. 17 years is way too long. This administration is crippled as it is – imagine four more years of them! We need to walk the walk here and make sure Flaherty & Yoon win on November 3rd. Email or call your friends. Tell them to register by Oct 14th. We can’t let the insiders decide this one.

  3. And now, all the deleted ones are posted online: http://www.cityofboston.gov/news/kineavy_messages.asp

    • Dan Kennedy

      Printed out and scanned so they can’t be searched. Nice!

  4. Michael Pahre

    City Hall has already modified their system to archive the emails in a manner that is similar to what the Blast guys are suggesting.

    Anyway, you got me thinking: How should we design the archive to serve the public interest in the 21st century?

    Yeah, it’s a crackpot idea to serve up the public documents in real time. No chance of becoming reality.

  5. Mike Stucka

    Michael: That’s not a crackpot idea. That makes sense. I wouldn’t put money on it ever seeing light of day in Massachusetts.

    My favorite part of state law: Say you’ve got a public employee getting paid public money to work a public job with public support. Public employee embezzles, gets caught, get firing. Under Massachusetts law, the grounds for termination are private.

  6. lkcape

    “Printed out and scanned so they can’t be searched. Nice!”

    4 Minutes/file with an OCR program that can read PDFs, and you have text that you can search.

    Adobe Acrobat does it very nicely.

  7. Mike Stucka

    lkcape: Acrobat is terrible at OCR, neither fast nor accurate. There’s a lot of stuff here.

    But more to the point: Given that these can be OCR’d, it’s clear the government’s only doing it to be a pain in the butt. How much time and material did it cost them to scan ’em and print ’em?

  8. lkcape

    All OCRs are problematical. Accuracy depends on the more on the clarity of the original image.

    That the Mayor’s office elected to present them in image form rather than text does raise the question as to why. The E-mails that were recovered were in text form originally, why produce an image file when other options are available?

    The answer could be that the reconstruction was provided in image form and the Mayor took the easy way out.

    But I would think that a company capable of doing a forensic restoration would surely be capable of providing their results in some sort of searchable text form with minimum of effort. After all, they had to convert from text to image to get what was offered.

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