What do President Obama, the inventor of the Internet and Open Data have in common?

Victoria Maclennan
January 15, 2016

We’re still loving our Open Data journey, speaking to organisations helping them understand the possibilities is a really rewarding exercise. It does help that Shaun is an Open Data evangelist and makes it easy to bring people on the journey when he is so passionate, especially about research data. In recent weeks I have been connecting with more and more Open Data Heroes, people already working to open data within their agency or corporation, these people are also interested in Open Data movements around the world – how we can leverage them here and how they can inform our journey as well.
This got me thinking about the most prominent Open Data Heroes in the world. There are many, many people involved, but two men certainly stand out as the highest profile Hero’s.

Create an unprecedented level of openness in government, Barak Obama

The highest profile Open Data Hero in the world is President Obama of course, his Open Data Executive order in 2013 required all US Government data to be published in an open and machine readable format by default! This wasn’t created in isolation, it was a solidification of the visionary path his government had already paved with regards openness of government and data – striving to create an unprecedented level of openness in government. There has been speculation Obama’s vision for the transformational impact of opening data will end with his tenure. Hopefully the leadership role, operationalisation of processes and joint initiatives the US have adopted will mean Open Data is so embedded as the norm it doesn’t make the radar of future Presidents beyond positive benefit realisation.

Open Data and a change of mindset is the next step in the internet revolution, Tim Bernes-Lee

The second most famous Open Data Hero is Tim Bernes-Lee, the man we know as inventor of the internet. Co-founder of the Open Data Institute, Linked Data initiator, and creator of the 5 Star Open Data Open Data Plan, which is in essence now the Open Data maturity model :
★              make your stuff available on the Web (whatever format) under an open license
★★           make it available as structured data (e.g., Excel instead of image scan of a table)
★★★        make it available in a non-proprietary open format (e.g., CSV as well as of Excel)
★★★★     use URIs to denote things, so that people can point at your stuff
★★★★★ link your data to other data to provide context
It is worthy paying homage to his vision, especially when you consider this Ted Talk – now almost 7 years ago – where he clearly articulates the benefits of Open Data and Linked Data. Whether you are new to Open Data or a long-time convert, if haven’t heard him speak this is a great place to start.

Then watch this short follow up talk below – now 6 years ago – where he demonstrates the power of publishing open data sets and refers to the “Open Data movement” – a precursor to his co-founding the Open Data Institute.

Before writing this blog, I started to write a post on “where all of the Open Data is hiding” about 10 days ago now! It will be a fabulous post if I ever finish, every day I discover a new portal or repository to share, there are some fabulous initiatives in development or already running.
Hope you enjoy these talks. Happy sharing, Vic.

Victoria spends much of her time focusing on Digital Inclusion, Digital Literacy and Digital Rights.  

You can read her OptimalBI blogs here, or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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