Unlike many of the people I know endorsing Carl Malamud for the position of Public Printer, I've never met him. However, I have met the
current last Public Printer, Bruce James--who also served as president of RIT's board of trustees. I was part of a group of RIT faculty that went to the GPO not long after Bush appointed James as Public Printer. We had a grand tour of the facility, culminating with a chat with James in his office. James got the job because of his strong history as a commercial publisher, and he brought a traditional publishing company background to the post. And while there are many advantages to having someone with traditional publishing experience running what is in effect the largest publishing "company" in the country, there's baggage that comes with tradition, as well. When I heard from students who left RIT to work at GPO, they seldom found the agency open to new ideas, or able to recognize and reward new talent. The current Public Printer is James' former chief of staff, a very capable Washington insider, with an excellent understanding of how agencies run, and his own set of matching traditional baggage.
I believe that Carl Malamud would bring not only extensive experience with electronic publishing, but also a strong and public-focused vision for the role GPO can play in making information accessible to all. It's easier to hire managers to handle the day-to-day business mechanics of the agency than it is to hire and support people with that kind of vision (and the knowledge to back the vision up). Real change in dysfunctional organizations only happens when the people at the top have a clear vision that they can communicate to those below them. Carl, I think, can do that.
That's why I'm supporting this grass-roots campaign to encourage President Obama to appoint Carl Malamud as the next Public Printer of the United States. And I hope you'll do the same. To go on record as endorsing him, all you need to do is put up your own blog posts, and email the link to carl @ media . org (or send it to him via twitter; @carlmalamud).