Free data23 Mar 2016
Data rules the world, right? Vast amount of information can be used not only to extracts some insights from it, it can be a weapon or a timebomb depending on the circumstances. Bad news for ordinary people is that they rarely have access or own information, they mostly ask for it. What if one refuses to answer?
Some years ago it was possible to buy it at least, but in the age of ubiquitous web services everything lives somewhere else and we have no way to control it. Services that we use everyday belong to very few major players, and it’s hard to imagine a scale of the disaster if google goes offline or is forced to stop providing services to the users of the country that doesn’t fit to one’s understanding of real democracy.
A lot of web sites heavily rely on crowd sourced data, but the only way users can access it is the way provided by this services. Is it fare?
I’d say not. I firmly believe that future innovations heavily rely on free access to different kind of information.
If you remember there was a period in mid 2000s, so called Web 2.0 where the trend was to create open APIs and give away as much information as possible to enable interconnection of the web. After some time this trend turned into decline, but we really need to get it back.
Every service that takes data from users should make it possible to get it back. If the data is anonymous then it should be possible to get it all. Just have a look on the amount of applications that use wikipedia data as a source. Another example is OpenStreetMap project.
Knowledge and Navigation is two pieces, communication is the third one. We really nead open dictionary and translation engine the will prevent dependency on single player and allow everyone to benefit.
Two more field that come into mind are history and repairs. Talking about the latter, how many times anyone got into situation the the devices he or she had had only one detail broken and there was no way to fix it because it was no longer supported/produced? It shouldn’t be that way, especially with emerging 3d-printing technologies. We need and open service that will contain models for parts of the devices that could be printed. I can imagine the future where every such repair is just a matter of downloading proper model and sending it to a printer.
And at last, what can we do with the history? The problem with it is that due to amount of information and globalization it’s way to easy to hide important changes behind silly news. How nice it would be to have an open database that will accumulate information about all events happening, so that it will be possible to make an analysis and separate real news from the garbage and see real connections between events that would otherwise go unnoticed.