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Tim Berners Lee by Christian Payne

Tim Berners Lee by Christian Payne

This is really a post designed to encourage people to read an interesting piece by Birmingham based Paul Bradshaw over that the Online Journalism Blog.  It’s a month or so old because Paul was responding to news that Tim Berners Lee (the man who invented the World Wide Web) will be working on ways to free public data.   However it’s worth a few minutes of your time. The following summarises Paul’s points, but I’d urge you to read them in full here.

1. Stimulating growth in the economy.

You could compare a genuinely significant release of public data to an economic stimulus. Like cutting VAT, only cheaper.

2. Efficiencies and passing on costs in the public sector

Samuel Butler’s Erewhon puts it particularly well:

You will sooner gain your end by “appealing to men’s pockets, in which they have generally something of their own, than to their heads, which contain for the most part little but borrowed or stolen property”

Public sector spending is going to drop whichever party is in power. Let’s play to that.

3. Oh yes, and it’s important for democracy, civic engagement and digital literacy

The limited data that’s available in the UK is an embarrassment. Imagine what MySociety could do with what’s available in the US.

Likewise, for all the talk of transparency, the recent announcement that Cabinet Papers and information relating to the Royal Family would be exempt from the Freedom of Information act is a backward step. Heather Brooke’s concerns proved right.

Thanks to Christian Payne for the image at the top of the post.

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