Killing Open Data Softly?

As usual there has been a little pause between blog posts, and it has taken a bout of the flu and utterly dull daytime TV to prompt this one.

Over the past few months I have starting thinking about what might be making doing Open Data a more difficult job. My first concern is linked data (stands back and prepares to be shot down in flames). Linked data is a great idea, don’t get me wrong, but it is really quite hard to do (even after a 30 minute whirlwind tour in Costa with Rob Styles from Talis). So many authorities are struggling to get to grips with the concept of open data (or get the concept but just won’t do it) this adds a layer of complexity and potential cost that may put some off. Let authorities learn to crawl, toddle, then walk, don’t go asking them to run a marathon yet!

I am also sensing the possibility that the wikileaks saga may put the concept of open data in a bad light. Those of us who think open data is vitally important will accept the Anonymous response for what it is,  those who haven’t yet seen the light  may see the whole thing as just an inconvenience and would rather buy their presents through PayPal than hold our governments to account.

Finally, (and I really will get some critisism for this!) what about the people who are clamouring for our data? We have been getting some great results from our Hack Warwickshire competition, but not that many. Someone wrote a really good post recently, which I can’t track down at the moment, asking people to start showing what is being done with open data. It’s really hard to demonstrate to data owners of an authority why they should open up data if we can’t show good examples of how it might be used. I’m particularly interested in the correlation of data, proving why all kinds of data should be released – you never know what you might uncover!

My final thought: reluctance to share stems from early childhood. We’ve all sat there in classes shielding our work so other kids can’t see what we’re doing. Although back then it was because we didn’t want them to see our answers, now it’s because we don’t want people to see our mistakes.