Data are news

Tom Loosemore, blogging MP Tom Watson — and others, including the Guardian — have been fighting to get more public data made public in the UK. Now Watson and Loosemore have launched a $40k prize to mashup this data and come out with lots of lemonade. Here‘s Paul Bradshaw on the movement. Here are some — as a Brit tweet said — stonking good ideas already.

: LATER: This tweet by Charles Arthur of the Guardian — “wtf? No downloadable school league tables?” — made me realize that newspapers are also foolish not to make their data mashuppable. If we put out all our sports data as tables that could be downloaded and mashed up people would build no end of great stuff on top of us. That’s thinking like a platform. WWGD?

  • Well, a couple of things arising.
    First, the government doing this has arisen from Gdn Technology’s Free Our Data campaign – we’ve been plugging at it for two years, and for the past year had terrific support from government, especially Tom Watson, who is now making it happen.

    Second, the school league tables are government data – and it’s weird that they aren’t in downloadable form (or even API form).

    Third, in this instance “WWGD” could be deconstructed as “What Would the Guardian Do?” Becoming a platform is one of our aims.. as recent hirings might hint.

  • Charles, you publish the league tables in the paper, don’t the govt send you them digitally? If so, why not publish them on the Guardian website in a mashable format too?

  • Back in 1998 when we launched we had to reverse engineer the UK’s school league tables from the Windows Help File format via which the Government had published them on the Web in order to limit re-use.

    We were refused access to the school league tables given to newspapers as tabulated data on a CD. Including the Guardian. I doubt much has changed other than there is now an open click licence allowing a wide range of re-use of such crown copyright data.

    So yup, Charles, I’ll go hunt down some school league table data for you amid the jungle of Government, just so long as you wander across the office to the Guardian’s education desk, and see what your colleagues already have (10 years worth, in theory…)

  • @Tom: it’s a deal. :-)

  • “If we put out all our sports data as tables…”

    One quick point: as I found out to my cost years ago, much sports data (like league tables, for example) is actually the copyright of the relevant league, at least in the UK. I suspect it’s the same for data like batting averages, goals scored, etc.

  • For us at a high school level, it’s the paper that usually gathers it.

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