Nextgov reports, “When government technology leaders first described a public repository for government data sets more than five years ago, the vision wasn’t totally clear. ‘I just didn’t understand what they were talking about,’ said Marion Royal of the General Services Administration, describing his first introduction to the project. ‘I was thinking, ‘this is not going to work for a number of reasons.’’ A few minutes later, he was the project’s program director. He caught onto and helped clarify that vision and since then has worked with a small team to help shepherd online and aggregate more than 100,000 data sets compiled and hosted by agencies across federal, state and local governments.” Read more
Have you checked out the IRS Tax Map this year? If not, what better way to spend April 15 (aside from actually filing those returns, of course).
The IRS Tax Map, as explained here, actually began as a project in 2002, as a prototype to address the business need for improved access to tax law technical information by the agency’s call center workers. These days, Tax Map is available to taxpayers to offer them topic-oriented access to the IRS’s diverse information products, as well. It aims at delivering semantic integration via the Topic Maps international standard (ISO/IEC 13250), grouping information about subjects, including those referred to by diverse names, in a single place.
It was created for the IRS by Infoloom in cooperation with Plexus Scientific and Coolheads Consulting. Infoloom explains on its web site that it lets customers control what is returned by search queries via a topic map approach that lets them extract from existing content information on the topics they need to represent, without having to build a taxonomy of terms, and add specific knowledge to that information as part of the extraction process.
Peter Judge of Tech Week Europe reports, “In the last quarter of a century, the world wide web has changed society so much that we should be talking of a ‘Digital Enlightenment’, says Sir Nigel Shadbolt, who predicts the next next 25 years will bring even bigger changes. In the 25th anniversary of the creation of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been calling for a Bill of Rights for the Internet. Shadbolt’s talk of Enlightenment dovetails well with that of the web’s inventor, as you might expect, since they jointly created the discipline of Web Science, founded Britain’s Open Data Institute, and have collaborated on numerous other projects, attempting to shape the way society relates to this utterly transforming phenomenon.” Read more
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
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