On open government data, Tim Berners-Lee is almost right

Tim Berners-Lee gave a great talk at the recent Gov 2.0 Expo in which he describes the criteria for creating open and linked government data. In the beginning of his talk he describes a star-based rating system for putting data up in machine readable format, open formats, as a CSV file, etc. As with many things that Tim does, he almost completely had me until he started describing what "linked data format" is in his mind. His notion of linked data is that the values of attributes in a data table would be URLs to some web page somewhere that points to the "definitive" source of data about that thing. There are several reasons why this is incredibly short-sighted and wrong: URLs link to a specific html page on a specific web server. They are only as permanent as long as the web server owner decides to keep it running....

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Josh Knauer to Deliver Keynote at Next Week’s Pennsylvania GIS Conference

Don't miss the 2009 Pennsylvania GIS Conference on May 19 and 20 in Grantville, PA. From the conference's organizers: This year’s Pennsylvania GIS Conference will explore the essential connection between geospatial technology and the development and sustainability of our critical infrastructure. Presenters from industry, academia, and government will showcase applications that support critical infrastructures in water resources, energy and the environment, public safety and health, and economic development. In addition, the latest hardware, software, and database trends will be demonstrated by the geospatial industry. This year it’s all technology and applications – no policy, no politics! Just pure GIS. Josh Knauer, CEO of Rhiza Labs, will deliver the keynote address, "Geospatial Data Sharing in the Information Commons World" at 9:15 AM on May 19. His presentation will use the Information Commons to explain how social entrepreneurship in the geospatial community can stimulate new and useful thinking about data sharing. Additionally,...

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Enabling Deep Citizen Participation

While attending the Government 2.0 "unconference", I was struck by the number of people playing technology buzzword bingo instead of discussing real problems and solutions. This wasn't surprising, since it's easy to be drawn to the Cool New Thing™, which for government is social media. However, all social media is not alike. Usually that label is used to denote user-contributed content and two-way conversations. It's a reasonable working definition, but in practice social media is usually focused almost exclusively at the creation of what I'll call "low fidelity" content. That includes tweets, posts, videos, wiki entries, etc. Don't get me wrong -- these all have value to an organization trying to attract a larger audience. In fact, they're a great way to get broad audience participation. But, that breadth comes at a price -- the participation itself is shallow. BTW, feel free to substitute "constituency" or "customer" for "audience" if...

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