viernes, 21 de mayo de 2010

Weirdest reason against open data in Spain

While I was working in my presentation for the PSI Meeting 2010, where I will be the 8th June representing Euroalert, I remembered the weirdest argument I've ever heard against Open Data. I'd like to share it with you because it is a really good (though disappointing) example of what many public organizations might be thinking about their data.

I was in a meeting with a public authority, trying to reach an agreement that would let Euroalert the re-use of public information they manage and that it is not open yet. Well, they really think it is open data because it is published in their website. So, again I had to explain that webpages or PDFs are not true machine readable formats. But this misunderstanding is quite usual and surely you have heard this many times. What really knocked me down was what came after several other evasive and not well fundamented arguments. It was something like this:

"If we unlock the data and you (and other companies) develop a service that improves the features we are providing for free, that will harm small companies because they might not be able to buy it"
I cannot be sure if they really believe that by keeping data locked they are helping anyone but I had the feeling that they were against the idea of companies making money with public data. Anyone had this type of discussion? I will be very interesting in sharing views on the subject.

By the way, in the presentation in the roundtable "Turning the reuse of public sector information into new business models and innovative services", I will be talking about the difficulties the open data movement is facing, when it comes to enhancing new and innovative business models. (More insights on the matter from the Chamber of Commerce of Stockhom at ePSIplatform)

My point is that on the one hand we have the Linked Data dreamers and on the other hand we have to deal with PDFs and HTML with partial data and civil servants that fight against innovation. And we will loose most of the potential of PSI reuse if more action is not taken. Otherwise a Open Data will be just a fancy playground with old datasets running over online maps. Beautiful but not very useful for companies.

But this discussion is not today's objective. I will publish the slides in Open Economy and probably the Euroalert team will make a good coverage of the event in the blog. In the mean time say with me: RAW DATA NOW!!! (I really recommend Sir Tim's TED talk on open data and the next web)

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