- Transparency Sites to Close — the US government’s open data efforts will close in a few months as a result of the cuts in funding.
- Browser Wars, Plural (Alex Russell) — nice rundown of demos of what modern browsers are capable of.
- Brief Descriptions of Potential Home Information Services (image) — lovely 1971 piece of futurology, which you can read going “Google News, Amazon, Google Calendar, PayPal, ….” The ancients vastly over-estimated our appetite for educational material, though. There’s no education site on the scale of a Google, Amazon, eBay, etc. (via BoingBoing)
- Google’s Recipes for Recipes — I’m as astonished as anyone to find myself agreeing with Nick Carr. The whinge is basically that by promoting recipes marked up in a particular format, Google have created an environment that favours corporate recipes over small less-technical people who can post plain text recipes but wouldn’t know microformats from microfilm. The really interesting part is how the choice of drill-down categories can backfire: Take, for instance, a recent search for “cassoulet.” The top search result is a recipe from Epicurious, one of the larger and better sites. But if you refine by time, your choices are “less than 15 min,” “less than 30 min,” or “less than 60 min.” There is no option for more than 60 minutes. In truth, a classic cassoulet takes at least 4 hours to make, if not several days (the Epicurious recipe takes 4 hours and 30 minutes; yet there in the results are recipes under each of these three time classes. One from Tablespoon goes so far as to claim to take just 1 minute. (It’s made with kidney beans, canned mushrooms, and beef, so it’s not long on authenticity.) … Refining recipe search by time doesn’t result in better recipes rising to the top; rather, the new winners are recipes packaged for the American eating and cooking disorder. (via Daniel Spector)
ENTRIES TAGGED "transparency"
Murky Future for Transparency, Browser Awesome, Future Realized, and Data Bias
IT Dashboard can create greater transparency for government bodies.
With the open source release of the IT Dashboard, an application that was developed on behalf of government agencies can now be implemented and further customized by other potential government users and developers at the city, state or international level.
How open government can have a global impact.
Samantha Power, special assistant to the President for multilateral affairs and human rights, discusses the relationship between open government, technology, human rights and transparency.
Case Study, Promise Transparency, Scriptable Browsing, Open Science Data Success
- Case Study: Slideshare Goes Freemium (Startup Lessons Learned) — I love case studies, they’re the best part of every business degree. The MVPs were tricky to implement for emotional reasons, too. Because the SlideShare team was used to giving away a high-value product, engineers balked at charging for a clearly imperfect product. The analytics package, for instance, launched in what Sinha calls “a very crude version; we started off and sold it before we were comfortable with it.”
- Guardian’s Pledge Tracker — keeping track of the pledges and promises from the new UK government. (via niemanlab)
- luakit browser framework — script WebKit using Lua. (via ivanristic)
- Sharing of Data Leads to Progress on Alzheimers (New York Times) — The key to the Alzheimer’s project was an agreement as ambitious as its goal: not just to raise money, not just to do research on a vast scale, but also to share all the data, making every single finding public immediately, available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world. No one would own the data. No one could submit patent applications, though private companies would ultimately profit from any drugs or imaging tests developed as a result of the effort.
Work Habits, Smartphone Frameworks, Transparency, and Data Geekery
- The Way I Work: Justin Kan of JustinTV (Inc Magazine) — I admit it, I had written Justin off as “that irritating guy who went around with a camera on all the time” but it turns out he’s quite thoughtful about what he does. I try to keep the meetings small, especially when we’re doing product design. If you have eight people in the design meeting, it doesn’t work. Everybody has an opinion. Everyone wants to weigh in on what the font should look like. The end product becomes the average of eight opinions. You don’t get excellent work, just average. (via Hacker News)
- Rhodes — open source cross-platform smartphone app development framework, with offline sync and hosted data storage.
- How Transparency Fails and Works Too (Clay Johnson) — another thoughtful piece reflecting the general awakening that “being transparent” is a verb not a noun: you don’t “achieve transparency”, but rather you have a set of actors, actions, and objects inside and outside government that provide the checks and balances we hope to get from transparency. It’s a complex system, requiring way more than just “release the data and they will come”. [L]et’s not fool ourselves into thinking though that just because a system has real-time, online disclosure that somehow the system will be cleaned up. It won’t. Data makes watchdogging possible, sure, but more data makes watchdogging harder. Plus, for the transparency solution to work, people have to actually care enough to watchdog. Imagine that your city council, facing terrible obesity rates, decided to enact and enforce a mandatory nudity law to improve its public health. Policy wonks got together and decided that in order to get people to lose weight, they’d outlaw clothing. People went outside naked, and sure, it was a little uncomfortable at first, but basically— the fat people stayed fat, and the thin people stayed thin. The town was more comfortable just averting their collective eyes.
- Meta-Optimize — a StackOverflow-like q&a site for data geeks who groove to topics like “unsupervised methods for word polarity detection”. (via Flowing Data)
Literary Mashups, Hardware+App Store, Wikileaks Criticism, Online Style Guide
- The Diary of Samuel Pepys — a remarkable mashup of historical information and literature in modern technology to make the Pepys diaries an experience rather than an object. It includes historical weather, glosses, maps, even an encyclopedia. (prompted by Jon Udell)
- The Tonido Plug Server — one of many such wall-wart sized appliances. This caught my eye: CodeLathe, the folks behind Tonido, have developed a web interface and suite of applications. The larger goal is to get developers to build other applications for inclusion in Tonido’s own app store.
- Wikileaks Fails “Due Diligence” Review — interesting criticism of Wikileaks from Federation of American Scientists. “Soon enough,” observed Raffi Khatchadourian in a long profile of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in The New Yorker (June 7), “Assange must confront the paradox of his creation: the thing that he seems to detest most-power without accountability-is encoded in the site’s DNA, and will only become more pronounced as WikiLeaks evolves into a real institution.” (via Hacker News)
- Yahoo Style Guide — a paper book, but also a web site with lots of advice for those writing online.
Open source advocate Marco Fioretti has just announced the start of a
study on open data for the European Union, with a focus on economic
benefits for local businesses. Related surveys are also mentioned.
- Transparency is Not Enough (danah boyd) — we need people to not just have access to the data, but have access to the context surrounding the data. A very thoughtful talk from Gov 2.0 Expo about meaningful data release.
- Feed6 — the latest from Rohit Khare is a sort of a “hot or not” for pictures posted to Twitter. Slightly addictive, while somewhat purposeless. Remarkable for how banal the “most popular” pictures are, it reminds me of the way Digg, Reddit, and other such sites trend towards the uninteresting and dissatisfying. Flickr’s interestingness still remains one of the high points of user-curated notability. (via rabble on Twitter)
- Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism (PDF) — FTC staff discussion document that floats a number of policy proposals around journalism: additional IP rights to defend against aggregators like Google News; protection of “hot news” facts; statutory limits to “fair use”; antitrust exemptions for cartel paywalls; and more. Jeff Jarvis hates it, but Alexander Howard found something to love in the proposal that the government “maximize the easy accessibility of government information” to help journalists find and investigate stories more easily. (via Jose Antonio Vargas)
Lessons learned from the Open Data front lines
In the last year I’ve been involved in two open data projects, Open New Zealand and data.govt.nz. After nearly a year in the Open Data trenches, I have some advice for those starting or involved in open data projects. First, figure out what you want the world to look like and why. Second, build your project around users.
Dow Jones Tanty, When a Purchase Isn't a Purchase, Surveillance Surprises, and an Open World Bank?
- Dow Jones CEO’s Sandbox Tantrum — keynote by Dow Jones CEO at the World Newspaper Congress. Highlights include: “the content kleptomaniacs of the Internet”, “a lot of newspaper people were taken in by
the game-changing gospel of the internet age”, “Free costs too much”, “Consumers will seek the valuable over the vapid because they always do”. Dow Jones is owned by News Corp, whose Rupert Murdoch is on a campaign to build a Maginot paywall around news.
- What Does It Mean to “Buy” an Ebook? — There is a disconnect of language here, probably a side effect of legacy businesses working with their legal teams to try and grab control while the consumer base, disorganized as it naturally is, is expected if not forced to make its arguments with the rubric set by the producers. In other words, “buying” an e-book is different than “buying” a book, even though from the consumer’s standpoint, it shouldn’t be.
- 8 Million Reasons for Real Surveillance Oversight — Sprint set up a self-service portal for law enforcement and returned 8 million requests for cellphone GPS locations in the first year. This is an incredibly comprehensive analysis of published and revealed numbers of surveillance–it’s orders of magnitude larger than anyone had realised. See also the leaked law enforcement howtos from Facebook, MySpace, and Yahoo!.
- World Bank Announces Landmark Policy on Access to Information — The policy on access to information provides for the disclosure of more information than ever before – on projects under preparation, projects under implementation, analytic and advisory activities (AAA), and Board proceedings. This information will be easily accessible on the World Bank’s external website and available through the InfoShop, public information centers, and the World Bank Group Archives. At the same time, the policy strikes a balance between maximum access to information and respect for the confidentiality of information pertaining to its clients, shareholders, employees, and other parties. Recognizing that the sensitivity of some information declines over time, the policy provides for the eventual declassification and disclosure of restricted information over a period of five, 10 or 20 years, depending upon information type. A major international institution promises transparency, one which has been criticised for secrecy and opacity in the past.