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RE: Article on Access to Public Data

From: Sheridan, John <John.Sheridan@nationalarchives.gov.uk>
Date: Fri, 5 Sep 2008 16:07:47 +0100
Message-ID: <88A6AFA61447AC4AB9F280FC6747F9080CDBB8B2@na-exch1.in.tna.local>
To: "Jose M. Alonso" <josema@w3.org>, "Owen Ambur" <Owen.Ambur@verizon.net>
Cc: <public-egov-ig@w3.org>
Interesting points.

The UK government has a published position on some of the issues raised by this article, articulated in our official response to the independent Steinberg / Mayo Power of Information Review.

The government's response, see: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/advice/poi/poir-government-response.pdf (which is often overlooked in favour of the original review), makes some important points.


"13. The Review makes a helpful distinction between:
+AJU large groups of people with little or no technical skills helping each other out online on subjects such as parenting and money management; and
+AJU those who manipulate data to create new public information goods and services, known as +IBg-data mashers+IBk, whose output can be used by large audiences. The technical skill required to +IBg-mash+IBk data is falling fast.

14. The Government accepts that in both cases economic and social value can be, and is being, created in new ways. Government accepts that the scale of activity set out in the Review would suggest that this activity is not a fad but a new social trend.

15. The Reviewers draw a comparison between online mutual support and the 19th-century cooperative and self-help movements. The Government finds this to be apposite. However, the Government is concerned that this comparison should not be misused as a simplistic justification for a return to laissez-faire government in areas where online self-help and mutual support are active.

16. The Government accepts the Review+IBk-s general findings that technological advances are increasing the value +AJY especially the social and economic value +AJY of information generated by the public sector. The internet and the ease with which large amounts of data can now be manipulated allow completely new uses to be made of government information. This can be done at costs that are much lower than before, and the results made available to many more people than before. This is a good thing, but like many innovations has significant disruptive potential to existing business models and practices."

In other words, the UK Government's current position is, yes to making more government data available for re-use, but note also "this comparison should not be misused as a simplistic justification for a return to laissez-faire government in areas where online self-help and mutual support are active." - which is directed at exactly the line of thinking put forward by the article, "government data and the invisible hand"!

There are deep ideological and political waters here including differences, for example between the US and Europe about the extent and role of the state in society.

Interesting, n'est pas? 

My own preference would be for us to use more consensual (less ideological) arguments for making government and public sector information more widely available using the web. 

John Sheridan 

Head of e-Services
Information Policy and Services Directorate
The National Archives
Admiralty Arch
North Side
The Mall

Tel: 020 7276 5205
Fax: 020 7276 2661

-----Original Message-----
From: public-egov-ig-request@w3.org on behalf of Jose M. Alonso
Sent: Fri 05/09/2008 13:23
To: Owen Ambur
Cc: public-egov-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: Article on Access to Public Data

El 03/09/2008, a las 16:12, Owen Ambur escribi+APM:
> Per Jose's request on the eGov IG telecon just now, the abstract for  
> the article entitled "Government Data and the Invisible Hand"  
> suggesting that .gov agencies should spend less time, effort, and  
> money on the "presentation" of Web sites in favor of making public  
> data more readily accessible is available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1138083

Thanks Owen.

I also found interesting a blog entry by Jason Ryan commenting on the  


Jose M. Alonso <josema@w3.org>    W3C/CTIC
eGovernment Lead                  http://www.w3.org/2007/eGov/

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Received on Friday, 5 September 2008 15:08:32 UTC

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