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Berners-Lee Calls For Government Data Transparency 48

Posted by samzenpus
from the data-for-the-people dept.
eldavojohn writes "Two months ago, Tim Berners-Lee unveiled a UK Government data project with the goal to make government data more useful for everyone. Today he is calling on the rest of the world's governments to become more transparent with their nonsensitive data. After only a few months, his project boasts around forty applications for using government data (screenshot example here). The BBC article notes the interesting uses of public data in India and Brazil that are disappointingly lacking in other countries — even the United States. Hopefully the US's data.gov will evolve to hosting apps instead of just data."
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Berners-Lee Calls For Government Data Transparency

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @12:44PM (#31524318)

    The thing that gets me is that TBL designed the internet protocols we use every day. Yet they are so full of plaintext and the technology to process it is all based around slicing and dicing this data up to turn it back into usable binary data that it's amazing we've come this far on such a rickety technology.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @12:50PM (#31524404) Journal

    The thing that gets me is that TBL designed the internet protocols we use every day. Yet they are so full of plaintext and the technology to process it is all based around slicing and dicing this data up to turn it back into usable binary data that it's amazing we've come this far on such a rickety technology.

    "Rickety technology?!" Well, TBL should be so lucky to have you waste time posting about him on Slashdot. We're all waiting for your revolutionary code to be donated free of licenses. Are you working with Stanford on their clean slate project announced three years ago [slashdot.org]? How's that going?

    For all the crap people give the current internet, there's a whole lot of talk and not a lot of work being done. Keep in mind that if you don't license it for free, it's going to perish like the U of MN's gopher protocol [wikipedia.org] which could have been the internet protocol.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @12:59PM (#31524504)

    Mr. Linux Nutsack, I respect your opinion on this matter, but BadAnalogyGuy is actually correct, whether he was trying to be funny or not.

    The World Wide Web is built upon a base of rickety technology. Basically every web-related technology is a hack. JavaScript is one of the most significant hacks, in order to add interactivity. Cookies are a hack, in order to get around a lack of state storage. The various HTTP headers relating to caching are one of the most miserable of hacks. The ability of browsers to accept even the shittiest of HTML is another huge hack. The compression of HTTP responses is another hack. SSL is a hack. HTML5 will bring a boatload of new hacks to the table.

    The web only works today because so many people have invested so much time in creating these hacks, and then spending literally years debugging them and getting them to a point where they're somewhat "standardized" and sort of work, most of the time.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:21PM (#31524772)
    You will see everything in front of the government, you will see everything behind the government, but you won't see what the government is today and what it is doing, because the government will be, well, transparent.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:34PM (#31524972) Homepage

    "data.gov" should not host "apps". Just release the raw data, and let others analyze it.

    If the Government provides "apps", they will be limited in annoying ways and won't be integrated with data from other sources.

  • by migla (1099771) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:03PM (#31525362)

    How do you know this as a fact?

    Maybe the apps would be open source and allow extensive configuration. Besides, maybe the raw data would be there as well.

    After all, it is a government by, for and of the people, isn't it?

  • by egcagrac0 (1410377) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:30PM (#31525748)

    "Apps" may be bad, but a usable API to the raw data might be good.

    Like "look, we get that you might want to look at only a subset of our 6 terabyte database. We'll let you run a limited number of queries per minute and return just that relevant subset of data for you." could be really handy.

  • by drgould (24404) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @04:10PM (#31527824)

    > In other words, plaintext is a feature not a bug.

    They are not directly human readable (the only advantage of plaintext), but you can convert to/from a human readable form whenever this is required.

    I would submit that the tools to slice and dice plaintext are easier to write and debug than binary tools. And since I assume in this context "plaintext" really means "XML", there are tested, debugged, standardized libraries for importing, exporting and manipulating XML for all languages and all platforms that I'm familar with.

    And you can convert to/from binary format whenever this is required.

    We should not be using an uncompressed plaintext format for transmitting information over the internet. Not everyone has a high speed connection.

    One word, gzip [wikipedia.org].

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