John Naughton of The Guardian put together a list of 25 things about the web in honor of the web’s twenty-fifth birthday, which falls on March 12. Naughton’s list includes, “(4) Many of the things that are built on the web are neither free nor open. Mark Zuckerberg was able to build Facebook because the web was free and open. But he hasn’t returned the compliment: his creation is not a platform from which young innovators can freely spring the next set of surprises. The same holds for most of the others who have built fortunes from exploiting the facilities offered by the web. The only real exception is Wikipedia.” Read more
Max Smolaks of Tech Week Europe reports, “The Open Data Institute (ODI), the UK non-profit organisation co-founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt to make better use of the huge amounts of information collected by the public sector, has signed up another five organisations to serve as its international ‘Nodes’. The Tech City-based ODI was established in December 2012 as the culmination of plans to transform access to government data and has since expanded to a number of different countries. The new nodes are located in Osaka, Seoul, Sheffield, Philadelphia and Hawaii, marking the first time the ODI has expanded to Asia.” Read more
Last week, Raffi Krikorian of Twitter announced that Twitter is “introducing a pilot project we’re calling Twitter Data Grants, through which we’ll give a handful of research institutions access to our public and historical data. With more than 500 million Tweets a day, Twitter has an expansive set of data from which we can glean insights and learn about a variety of topics, from health-related information such as when and where the flu may hit to global events like ringing in the new year. To date, it has been challenging for researchers outside the company who are tackling big questions to collaborate with us to access our public, historical data. Our Data Grants program aims to change that by connecting research institutions and academics with the data they need.” Read more
James Kobielus of our sister site DATAVERSITY recently wrote, “Openness, transparency, and agility are where the world is headed. However, these trends are problematic for those of us who have intellectual property – including software, data, and other products – that we seek to control access to for many legitimate reasons (e.g., our livelihoods depend on being paid for them). Open access to free data is happening everywhere, regardless of whether it’s convenient to those of us who own copyrights. Open data is an important trend, and, regardless of what the cynics may say, it’s not an ideological cover for intellectual proprietary pirates. In fact, it’s a core principle of the emerging world economy.” Read more
In the video below, Dr. James Melton, a Lecturer in Comparitive Politics at University College London, gives a presentation on Constitute. Constitute is a new way to explore the constitutions of the world. The origins of the project date back to 2005 with the Comparative Constitutions Project, which has the stated goal of cataloging the contents of all constitutions written in independent states since 1789. To date, that work has resulted in a collection of 900+ constitutions and 2500+ Amendments. A rigorous formal survey instrument including 669 questions was then applied to each of these “constitutional events,” resulting in the base data that the team had to work with. Melton and his group wanted to create a system that allowed for open sharing of this information, and not just with researchers, but with anyone who wants to explore the world’s constitutions. They also needed the system to be flexible enough to handle changes, when, as Melton points out, “…roughly 15% of the countries in the world change their constitution every single year.”
Gillian Shaw of the Vancouver Sun reports, “Canada’s federal government has an abundance of data, and is asking Canadian software programmers and innovators to figure out how to best use it. In the first country wide open-data hackathon, dubbed CODE – Canadian Open Data Experience – Ottawa is calling on the nation’s computing and design talent to use the government’s open data to create apps that will help Canadians. ‘From air-and water-quality monitoring, to border waiting times, to information on permanent residency applications, crime statistics and vehicle recalls, Open Data has the potential to drive social, political, and economic change,’ Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board of Canada, said in a letter to CODE participants.” Read more
Joel Gurin of InformationWeek recently asked, “Will 2014 finally become the year of open data? We’re certainly seeing evidence that open data is moving from the margins into the mainstream, with new uses for data that governments and other sources are making freely available to the public. But if we’re going to see open data’s promise fulfilled, it will be important for governments, and the federal government in particular, to make it easier for the public to access and use their open data.” Read more
Jemima Kiss of The Guardian recently wrote, “It is nearly 25 years since Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote his initial proposal for a distributed information system based on hypertext, in March 1989. ‘Vague, but exciting,’ was how supervisor Mike Sendall greeted the idea, proposed to help connect the work of several thousand atom-smashing scientists, researchers and administrators at Cern – the European home of nuclear research and the large hadron collider. The plan was a non-linear organisation system based on hypertext –quite the hot topic in late 80s computing circles – that would improve on the previous system that let documents be stored and printed. ‘A linked system,’ wrote Berners-Lee, ‘would allow one to browse through concepts, documents, systems and authors, also allowing references between documents to be stored’.” Read more
Dian Schaffhauser of Campus Technology recently wrote, “A startup that offers a cloud-based biomedical search and profiling platform is teaming up with a major publisher of scientific and technical texts to create customized research portals for academic organizations and scientific societies. Knode will be working with John Wiley & Sons to set up searchable research networks to help users locate research expertise. Currently, Knode’s focus is on life sciences, but the company expects to expand to other fields ‘soon,’ according to an interview with CEO David Steinberg posted on the Wiley Web site.” Read more
The Open Data Institute has announced that Jeni Tennison has been awarded an OBE in the “Queen’s New Year Honours.”
For those not familiar, King George V created these honors on 4 June 1917, during World War I. The honor was intended to reward services to the war effort by civilians at home in the UK and servicemen in support positions. Today, they are awarded for prominent national or regional roles and to those making distinguished or notable contributions in their own specific areas of activity. There are three ranks to the honors: Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE) and Member (MBE). Tennison is being given the OBE.
The official release reads:
Open Data Institute (ODI) founders, Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Berners-Lee have warmly welcomed news that the organisation’s Technical Director, Jeni Tennison has received an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Tennison, who grew up in Cambridge, first trained as a psychologist before gaining a PhD in collaborative ontology development from the University of Nottingham.
Before joining the ODI, she was the technical architect and lead developer for legislation.gov.uk, which pioneered the use of open data APIs within the public sector, set a new standard in the publication of legislation on the web, and formed the basis of The National Archives’ strategy for bringing the UK’s legislation up to date as open, public data.
Speaking about today’s Honour, ODI Chairman, Sir Nigel Shadbolt said: “Jeni inspires affection, loyalty and admiration in all who know her. She has a special blend of deep technical know how and an intuitive sense of what works in the world of the Web. In Jeni the ODI has a fantastic CTO and the open data community a great role model. It has been a privilege to work with her for over two decades and it is wonderful to see her recognised in this way.”
Before taking up her post at the ODI, Tennison worked with Shadbolt on the early linked data work on data.gov.uk, helping to engineer new standards for the publication of statistics as linked data; building APIs for geographic, transport and education data; and supporting the publication of public sector organograms as open data.
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