What Obama can do to promote openness
With the inauguration of US President-Elect Barack Obama later today – we thought we’d prepare a brief list of things he can do to promote openness in his new role.
- Open government data. Make core government data open (as in opendefinition.org) – so that it can be re-used in mashups, visually represented, used in semantic web applications and so on! This idea is currently in 5th place on the Obama CTO site with over 5,800 votes.
- Open access to publicly funded research. As suggested by Open Knowledge Foundation Advisory Board member, Peter Suber: “Require open access to the results of non-classified research funded by taxpayers. Extend the exemplary policy now in place at the NIH to all federal agencies.”. Currently in 12th place on ObamaCTO with over 1,600 votes.
- Publish public information in way which makes it easy to re-use. For example, publish in XML or Text/CSV, not PDF files which data must be extracted from. Allow direct, bulk downloading, rather than access through an API or piecemeal access via a web service. (For more on this see our post Give Us the Data Raw, and Give it to Us Now.)The Data Catalogue of Vivek Kundra’s Office in the District of Columbia is a great example of this.
- Make it open by default. Make public content and data – whether its government data, or publicly funded digitisation of cultural heritage artefacts – open by default. Though this is not appropriate for everything, consider allowing as much as possible to be re-used. Think of the ‘Principle of Many Minds’ – there are lots of interesting things that can be done with a given document or dataset that you may not have thought of!