L.A. County should just say no to PDFs


The L.A. County Department of Public Health is publishing its list of the locations where people in high risk groups can receive a swine flu vaccination exclusively in PDF form. Taxpayers deserve better.

In case you don't know, PDFs are those clunky computerized documents that most people can't read in their browsers, don't show up well in search engines, and are often difficult to find on cluttered web pages because they're buried behind a hyperlink, rather than displayed directly in the browser.

Plus they're difficult for bloggers and developers to republish on other sites, because the data aren't easily portable to other platforms.

This makes it needlessly difficult for people to find out about a critical public health issue.

Instead, L.A. government should be publishing the data in more user-friendly formats. A simple HTML table would be easy for the public to directly access through search engines and web browsers. And an Excel spreadsheet or CSV file would be easier for online news outlets to download and quickly republish.

To show how easy it would be, I spent an hour or two last night grinding out an application here at palewire that does just that, swineflu.palewire.com. Check it out. The codebase is open-source and available on Github.