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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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  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *

      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 pro [wikipedia.org]

      • I still have gopher sites in my bookmarks, it's likely their dead links though.

        Falcon

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rogerborg (306625)

      Its like we're all enjoying transporting drunken cheerleaders across State lines in our fancy pants flying cars, but they're still using the same old steam engine that TBL designed under the hood.

      (Psst... you're slipping)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      BinaryXML (EXI) licenses aren't cheap. Until binary XML is standardised and affordable, we're stuck with legacy sub-optimal bloated plaintext technology.

      • by thijsh (910751)
        compress(XML) should do the trick... parsing time is negligible, the only advantage would be an index, but there are other tricks for that like embedding it in the XML or creating a separate smaller index file.
        I like the trick DriveImage XML uses: one binary blob with all files after each other and a plaintext XML file with filenames and byte positions, this is a great example of the strength of XML and binary data combined.
      • Ehm [sourceforge.net], what non-cheap licences?
    • by MrMr (219533)
      00101000100011110101000101010?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by drgould (24404)

      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.

      The advantage of transferring data as plaintext is that you can slice and dice it to your heart's content. Instead of transferring it in some binary format that may be proprietary or non-extensible or out-dated in a few years.

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

    • by tbuskey (135499)

      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.

      The thing that gets me is Microsoft designed the file formats we use in Office every day. Yet they are so full of binary that's not portable and subject to endianess issues. The tech to slice & dice the data to make it available on portable media such as the web or non intel cpus has to be all reverse engineered. Even Microsoft has issues with backward compatibility. It's amazing this rickety technology has lasted so long.

      TBL didn't use a binary format for a reason. I have LaTeX documents created o

  • by Anonymous Coward

    is analogous to asking for banking reform in the United States of Amerika.

    Yours In Perm,
    K. Trout

  • Of particular note is the ASBOrometer which is a mobile application (iPhone and Android) that measures levels of anti-social behaviour at your current location (within England and Wales) and gives you access to key local ASB statistics. This app was number one in the top free UK iTunes app store last week.

    So, this application keeps tracks of all nerds like me? Pretty harsh for not going outside...

  • by Sr. Zezinho (16813) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:18PM (#31524726) Homepage Journal

    An interesting project coming from a private foundation, instead of the government, is Pordata, a database of statistical data about Portugal:

    http://www.pordata.pt/ [pordata.pt]

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by migla (1099771)

      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?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by egcagrac0 (1410377)

      "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.

    • But data.gov is not hosting apps, just the data. It's doing this webby thing TBL invented called "linking" to them.

      Almost magically, they are actually hosted and written by by entirely different people and organisations, and yet you can access them from data.gov's own pages.

      Maybe you should click on one of those "links" at the top of this page and RTFA...

  • TED Talk (Score:3, Informative)

    by jduhls (1666325) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @01:50PM (#31525182)
    Here's his TED Talk [google.com] on the subject.
  • Hey Lady! (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by AP31R0N (723649)

    Pick a name!

  • City of Vancouver data is open now, at: http://data.vancouver.ca/ [vancouver.ca] Still can't find a goddam list of all the buildings in Vancouver. How hard is that? Statistics Canada are still dinosaurs. They charge for access to data we paid them to collect.

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