What Does Sir Tim Want? Raw Data Now!

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As I noted a couple of weeks ago, bringing in Sir Tim Berners-Lee to help the UK government open up access to government data probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but I do wonder whether they really know what is going to hit them. Here, Sir Tim provides a hint of what he will be looking for:

Government data is being put online to increase accountability, contribute valuable information about the world, and to enable government, the country, and the world to function more efficiently. All of these purposes are served by putting the information on the Web as Linked Data. Start with the "low-hanging fruit".

Whatever else, the raw data should be made available as soon as possible. Preferably, it should be put up as Linked Data. As a third priority, it should be linked to other sources. As a lower priority, nice user interfaces should be made to it -- if interested communities outside government have not already done it.

The Linked Data technology, unlike any other technology, allows any data communication to be composed of many mixed vocabularies. Each vocabulary is from a community, be it international, national, state or local; or specific to an industry sector. This optimizes the usual trade-off between the expense and difficulty of getting wide agreement, and the practicality of working in a smaller community. Effort toward interoperability can be spent where most needed, making the evolution with time smoother and more productive.

That's the abstract: the rest of the post provides some practical suggestions as to how government data can be put online to best effect. Worth reading for a sense of what might happen – and to see just how far Sir Tim succeeds in overcoming the Whitehall inertia.

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