Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Making open data useful

Interesting post on the "tragedy of Edmontorcouver open data" from an OpenStreetMap contributor. They argue that municipal efforts at releasing data don't have the impact that they might have, because of the following mistakes (Edmontorcouver seems to be a fictional placename, but this presumably reflects experience with real towns is Edmonton/Toronto/Vancouver):
  1. They expected a new community to build itself.
  2. They wrote their own license.

Here's the advice given for rescuing such efforts:
  1. Curate your data and make it the best data possible.
  2. License the data with the PDDL.

The argument is that the municipality shouldn't be in the business of "curating" a community, since they won't be very good at it, and there are better curators already out there (e.g. the OpenStreetMap community). The municipality should focus on allocating resources to getting local experts to curate the local data. Similarly for the license, the municipality shouldn't be in the business of curating a custom license now that there are serviceable options already out there:

... the good folks at the Open Data Commons make it easy to select an appropriate license for your open data. Use the Public Domain Dedication and License if you want protect your interests by disclaiming liability and you want your data to have the widest possible audience. [Hint: you do!]

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