Data Wholesalers & Monopoly

2009-08-13 20:00:00 -0400

Clay writes over on the Sunlight Labs blog:

Once you start editorializing data— well, you’ve lost both accountability and transparency as well as credibility.

Sunlight Labs is a pretty cool project, where their focus is taking all that data the government makes available and digging into it to find out what’s actually going on. And one of the problems they have with a lot of the government projects like is that while they espouse transparency, they don’t actually provide the raw data, they editorialize it and provide websites and displays that spin it to their advantage. When you look at it like that, it’s the opposite of transparency. In fact, if you want to set up your own data mining and digging, and you want FEC data, you’re probably better off getting it from Sunlight, who’ve already taken the time to build machine readable databases for you.

On a related note, there’s an upcoming set of presentations called BigAppsDevCamps, for those who want to use New York City municipal data in their apps. It’s probably of interest to many mobile developers, and I was planning on stopping by if I can. I think that might be an example of government being a good wholesaler, as opposed to a bad retailer. Although that depends on what they make available and how. I don’t like the notion of filing an RFP just to get access, when it’s public data.

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