Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
When I was updating Governing's Sourcebook the other day, I came to a startling realization: State economic development department Web sites have some really goofy URLs.
Whether it's www.yesvirginia.org (funny, I didn't think governments got in the business of suggesting Santa Claus exists) or www.1800arkansas.com (I wish they'd opted for www.1900arkansas.com, with a slogan "relocate here for a good time"), states come up with the darnedest Web sites then they're trying to lure companies.
Some are arrogant, like www.iowalifechanging.com. The Web site itself is no more modest, stating, "You've arrived. Living in Iowa is more than just a lifestyle - it's a preferred way of life." Huh?
Others make you think, like www.thinkkentucky.com and www.thinkvermont.com . And many try to be hip, like www.expand2nevada.com -- "two" was just too uncool. (Note, also, the aversion to .gov endings.) I haven't even mentioned www.choosemaryland.org, www.growingnd.com , www.newpa.com and www.sdreadytowork.com.
It is, of course, great fun to try your own hand at these branding activities. How about alaskabutnotleast.org, homesweetoklahoma.com, aperfecttennessee.com, whynotwyoming.org or, for Michigan, pleasepleasecomeherewewilldoanything.org?
But, if there's a serious angle here, it's this: I can't help but wonder whether these silly URLs and the generally flashy Web sites behind them say something about the priorities of government. I'm not saying I want every agency to spend time thinking of a catchy Web address (D.C.'s garbage collectors don't need to be available on the Internet at www.washingtonwhatawaste.org), but sometimes governments seem more concerned with attracting new businesses than serving the companies and citizens they already have.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.