June 19, 2012 4 Comments
I’m currently enjoying the IWMW 2012 conference. The theme is “embedding innovation”. I can’t say I’ve overly picked up on that, but really this year it has all been about data. Big, small, linked and so on.
Some of my biggest hurdles back at work are the silos that hold our data. Poor structure and duplication being the most sizeable of the problems. But many of the talks and issues they raised here are about the business silos as much as the problem with data formats, a common example was data stored in spreadsheets. Making this available via XML that can be linked to other information is an issue. Not so much the technical side, but the human process side.
I’ve seen some really good stuff here about opening your data (the safe stuff) up for others to use, even if you don’t have an obvious use for it there and then. An example this morning was the Edinburgh council opening up access to their allotment catalog. They have little use beyond the obvious for that information but by opening it up someone might develop a site or app that can make use of that data in ways not as obvious to the data holders.
A more extreme example I saw was with Southampton and their “data architect” ( or gardener as he calls himself) Chris Guttridge. I attended a parallel session with Chris 2 years ago at the same conference in Sheffield and I have to admit to struggling with his talk on RDFa. However the work he is doing on unlocking some very mundane data and then allowing innovative ways of linking it together is really impressive.
For over 2 years I have been asking our teams to clean up and make more available, the data which is buried in our databases. But although this has had very limited success I think it’s time to start a bigger campaign. I think with current changes that are afoot in my organisation that it is quite likely to give me the opportunity to move forward on this. In fact I am so sure it will happen because I’m just going to do it! No committee of 6 people stalling the project and turning it in to something else. I will open our data to our teams and just show what we could be doing!