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Leading by example: two stories

By Tim O'Reilly
April 10, 2014

I was struck recently by two stories in the New York Times. The first, “Bishops Follow Pope’s Example: Opulence Is Out,” tells how bishop after bishop, either inspired by the Pope’s example or afraid of being shamed for not doing …

Pursuing adoption of free and open source software in governments

By Andy Oram
March 25, 2014

Free and open source software creates a natural — and even necessary — fit with government. I joined a panel this past weekend at the Free Software Foundation conference LibrePlanet on this topic and have covered it previously in a …

Open data can drive partnerships with government

By Andy Oram
March 24, 2014

As governments and businesses — and increasingly, all of us who are Internet-connected — release data out in the open, we come closer to resolving the tiresomely famous and perplexing quote from Stewart Brand: “Information wants to be free. Information …

Big data and privacy: an uneasy face-off for government to face

By Andy Oram
March 5, 2014

Thrust into controversy by Edward Snowden’s first revelations last year, President Obama belatedly welcomed a “conversation” about privacy. As cynical as you may feel about US spying, that conversation with the federal government has now begun. In particular, the first …

The technical aspects of privacy

By Andy Oram
March 5, 2014

Thrust into controversy by Edward Snowden’s first revelations last year, President Obama belatedly welcomed a “conversation” about privacy. As cynical as you may feel about US spying, that conversation with the federal government has now begun. In particular, the first …

The public front of the free software campaign: part I

By Ezra Haber Glenn
December 10, 2013

At a recent meeting of the MIT Open Source Planning Tools Group, I had the pleasure of hosting Zak Rogoff — campaigns manager at the Free Software Foundation — for an open-ended discussion on the potential for free and open …

Security After the Death of Trust

By Simon St. Laurent
October 2, 2013

Security has to reboot. What has passed for strong security until now is going to be considered only casual security going forward. As I put it last week, the damage that has become visible over the past few months means …

Four short links: 29 January 2013

By Nat Torkington
January 29, 2013

FISA Amendment Hits Non-Citizens — FISAAA essentially makes it lawful for the US to conduct purely political surveillance on foreigners’ data accessible in US Cloud providers. [...] [A] US judiciary subcommittee on FISAAA in 2008 stated that the Fourth Amendment …

Four short links: 28 January 2013

By Nat Torkington
January 28, 2013

Aaron’s Army — powerful words from Carl Malamud. Aaron was part of an army of citizens that believes democracy only works when the citizenry are informed, when we know about our rights—and our obligations. An army that believes we must …

14 big trends to watch in 2013

By Alex Howard
December 22, 2012

2012 was a remarkable year for technology, government and society. In our 2012 year in review, we looked back at 10 trends that mattered. Below, we look ahead to the big ideas and technologies that will change the world, again. …

Thin walls and traffic cameras

By Alistair Croll
October 19, 2012

A couple of years ago, I spoke with a European Union diplomat who shall remain nameless about the governing body’s attitude toward privacy. “Do you know why the French hate traffic cameras?” he asked me. “It’s because it makes it …

Open health data in practice: Increase your access to lab results

By Tim O'Reilly
October 16, 2012

I’m convinced that there’s a wave of innovation coming in healthcare, driven by new kinds of data, new ways of extracting meaning from that data, and new business models that data can enable. That’s one of the reasons why we …

Four short links: 16 October 2012

By Nat Torkington
October 16, 2012

cir.ca — news app for iPhone, which lets you track updates and further news on a given story. (via Andy Baio) DataWrangler (Stanford) — an interactive tool for data cleaning and transformation. Spend less time formatting and more time analyzing …

Four short links: 27 September 2012

By Nat Torkington
September 27, 2012

Paying for Developers is a Bad Idea (Charlie Kindel) — The companies that make the most profit are those who build virtuous platform cycles. There are no proof points in history of virtuous platform cycles being created when the platform …

Four short links: 13 September 2012

By Nat Torkington
September 13, 2012

Patterns for Research in Machine Learning — every single piece of advice should be tattooed under the eyelids of every beginning programmer, regardless of the field. Milton Friedman’s Thermostat — Everybody knows that if you press down on the gas …

Four short links: 17 August 2012

By Nat Torkington
August 17, 2012

What Twitter’s API Anouncement Could Have Said (Anil Dash) — read this and learn. Anil shows how powerful it is to communicate from the perspective of the reader. People don’t care about your business model or platform changes except as …

Four short links: 3 July 2012

By Nat Torkington
July 3, 2012

OpenROV Funded in 1 Day (Kickstarter) -- an open source robotic submarine designed to make underwater exploration possible for everyone. (via BoingBoing) McAfee Digital Divide Study (PDF) -- lots of numbers showing parents are unaware of what their kids do. (via Julie Starr) Herdict -- crowdsourced transparency to reveal who is censoring what online. (via Twitter) You Really Really...

Data journalism research at Columbia aims to close data science skills gap

By Alex Howard
May 22, 2012

In this interview, the director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University talks about the challenges and opportunities that face those who would practice data journalism in the 21st century. In particular, Emily Bell discusses the skills and mindset that are needed, including how a $2 million research grant will help support developing them.

Data journalism research at Columbia aims to close data science skills gap

By Alex Howard
May 22, 2012

In this interview, the director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University talks about the challenges and opportunities that face those who would practice data journalism in the 21st century. In particular, Emily Bell discusses the skills and mindset that are needed, including how a $2 million research grant will help support developing them.

Data journalism research at Columbia aims to close data science skills gap

By Alex Howard
May 22, 2012

In this interview, the director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University talks about the challenges and opportunities that face those who would practice data journalism in the 21st century. In particular, Emily Bell discusses the skills and mindset that are needed, including how a $2 million research grant will help support developing them.

Four short links: 17 April 2012

By Nat Torkington
April 17, 2012

Penguins Counted From Space (Reuters) -- I love the unintended flow-on effects of technological progress. Nobody funded satellites because they'd help us get an accurate picture of wildlife in the Antarctic, but yet here we are. The street finds a use ... What Makes a Super-Spreader? -- A super-spreader is a person who transmits an infection to a significantly...

Top Stories: October 31-November 4, 2011

Top Stories: October 31-November 4, 2011
By Mac Slocum
November 4, 2011

This week on O'Reilly: Former author Robbie Allen explained his shift to software-generated writing, Terence Craig said transparency is the best way to handle digital privacy, and we learned how a simple question can keep data companies honest.

What does privacy mean in an age of big data?

What does privacy mean in an age of big data?
By Audrey Watters
November 2, 2011

Ironclad digital privacy isn't realistic, argues "Privacy and Big Data" co-author Terence Craig. What we need instead are laws and commitments founded on transparency.

What does privacy mean in an age of big data?

By Audrey Watters
November 2, 2011

Ironclad digital privacy isn't realistic, argues "Privacy and Big Data" co-author Terence Craig. What we need instead are laws and commitments founded on transparency.

Strata Week: IBM puts Hadoop in the cloud

Strata Week: IBM puts Hadoop in the cloud
By Audrey Watters
October 27, 2011

IBM targets businesses with a cloud-based Hadoop product, Factual tackles incomplete geo records, and Google embraces transparency by publishing and explaining the data requests it gets from governments.

Strata Week: IBM puts Hadoop in the cloud

By Audrey Watters
October 27, 2011

IBM targets businesses with a cloud-based Hadoop product, Factual tackles incomplete geo records, and Google embraces transparency by publishing and explaining the data requests it gets from governments.

Cooking the data

By Alistair Croll
September 20, 2011

Open data and transparency aren't enough: we need True Data, not Big Data, as well as regulators and lawmakers willing to act on it.

Advances, setbacks, and continuing impediments to government transparency

By Andy Oram
June 16, 2011

The good, the bad, and the edgy in open government at Computers, Freedom & Privacy.

Should the patent office open its internal guidelines to the public?

By Andy Oram
June 3, 2011

Anyone following policy issues around technological innovation has noticed the power and scope of patents expanding over time. To understand the forces contributing to this, I recommend a thoughtful, readable summary--and highlight the role played by internal documents at the patent office.

An ethical bargain

An ethical bargain
By Jim Stogdill
June 1, 2011

Most of the relationships you build with corporations are like icebergs — essentially hidden from view. But what if we could interact with "human" corporations? What would that look like? How would it work?

Why the eG8 mattered to the future of the Internet and society

Why the eG8 mattered to the future of the Internet and society
By Alex Howard
May 31, 2011

If the Internet has become the public arena for our time, as the official G8 statement emphasized, then experts say we must defend the openness and freedoms that have supported its development.

Four short links: 1 April 2011

By Nat Torkington
April 1, 2011

Transparency Sites to Close -- the US government's open data efforts will close in a few months as a result of the cuts in funding. Browser Wars, Plural (Alex Russell) -- nice rundown of demos of what modern browsers are capable of. Brief Descriptions of Potential Home Information Services (image) -- lovely 1971 piece of futurology, which you can...

White House releases IT Dashboard as open source code

White House releases IT Dashboard as open source code
By Alex Howard
March 31, 2011

With the open source release of the IT Dashboard, an application that was developed on behalf of government agencies can now be implemented and further customized by other potential government users and developers at the city, state or international level.

Samantha Power on transparency, national security and open government

By Alex Howard
November 19, 2010

Samantha Power, special assistant to the President for multilateral affairs and human rights, discusses the relationship between open government, technology, human rights and transparency.

Four short links: 20 August 2010

By Nat Torkington
August 20, 2010

Case Study: Slideshare Goes Freemium (Startup Lessons Learned) -- I love case studies, they're the best part of every business degree. The MVPs were tricky to implement for emotional reasons, too. Because the SlideShare team was used to giving away a high-value product, engineers balked at charging for a clearly imperfect product. The analytics package, for instance, launched in...

Four short links: 7 July 2010

By Nat Torkington
July 7, 2010

The Way I Work: Justin Kan of JustinTV (Inc Magazine) -- I admit it, I had written Justin off as "that irritating guy who went around with a camera on all the time" but it turns out he's quite thoughtful about what he does. I try to keep the meetings small, especially when we're doing product design. If you...

Four short links: 29 June 2010

By Nat Torkington
June 29, 2010

The Diary of Samuel Pepys -- a remarkable mashup of historical information and literature in modern technology to make the Pepys diaries an experience rather than an object. It includes historical weather, glosses, maps, even an encyclopedia. (prompted by Jon Udell) The Tonido Plug Server -- one of many such wall-wart sized appliances. This caught my eye: CodeLathe, the...

European Union starts project about economic effects of open government data

By Andy Oram
June 11, 2010

Open source advocate Marco Fioretti has just announced the start of a study on open data for the European Union, with a focus on economic benefits for local businesses. Related surveys are also mentioned.

Four short links: 31 May 2010

By Nat Torkington
May 31, 2010

Transparency is Not Enough (danah boyd) -- we need people to not just have access to the data, but have access to the context surrounding the data. A very thoughtful talk from Gov 2.0 Expo about meaningful data release. Feed6 -- the latest from Rohit Khare is a sort of a "hot or not" for pictures posted to Twitter....

Rethinking Open Data

By Nat Torkington
February 2, 2010

In the last year I've been involved in two open data projects, Open New Zealand and data.govt.nz. I believe in learning from experience and I've seen some signs recently that other projects might benefit from my experience, so this post is a recap of what I've learned. It's the byproduct of a summer reflection on my last nine months working...

Four short links: 2 December 2009

Four short links: 2 December 2009
By Nat Torkington
December 2, 2009

8 Million Reasons for Real Surveillance Oversight -- Sprint set up a self-service portal for law enforcement and returned 8 million requests for cellphone GPS locations in the first year. This is an incredibly comprehensive analysis of published and revealed numbers of surveillance--it's orders of magnitude larger than anyone had realised. See also the leaked law enforcement howtos from Facebook, MySpace, and Yahoo!. This and more in today's Four Short Links.

Larry Lessig and Naked Transparency

By Carl Malamud
October 10, 2009

Larry Lessig had a dream. In this dream, he was standing on K Street, preaching in the dark. Suddenly, a naked posse on Segways went whizzing by, shining their flashlights in people's faces. Bystanders were all blinded by these random lights and lost their night vision. When Larry turned around, the naked posse was racing towards the White House for an open government rally, trailed by a screaming mob of marijuana-smoking birthers.

ICANN without restraints: the difficulties of coordinating stakeholders

By Andy Oram
October 2, 2009

The U.S. Department of Commerce, which is ICANN's publicly accountable overseer, announced the most important decision affecting ICANN since its founding: the U.S. government will give up its role as overseer and make ICANN independent.

Four short links: 25 September 2009

By Nat Torkington
September 25, 2009

Diesel: A Case Study In That Thing I Just Said -- a new asynchronous I/O library in Python, which earned this fabulous review from Glyph Lefkowitz who wrote the granddaddy of all asynch libraries in Python, Twisted. Again, I don't want to dump on Diesel here; for what it is, i.e. an experiment in how to idiomatically structure asynchronous...

Computerization in Nilekani's Imagining India

By Andy Oram
August 31, 2009

Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation promises to occupy a central position in discussions about India as well as the world economy this year. Particularly relevant to this blog are the book's observations on computers' role in the economy and society.

Four short links: 7 August 2009

By Nat Torkington
August 6, 2009

Defragging the Stimulus -- each [recovery] site has its own silo of data, and no site is complete. What we need is a unified point of access to all sources of information: firsthand reports from Recovery.gov and state portals, commentary from StimulusWatch and MetaCarta, and more. Suggests that Recovery.gov should be the hub for this presently-decentralised pile of recovery...

Privacy and open government: conversations with EPIC and others about OpenID

By Andy Oram
August 3, 2009

Ideas about privacy policies, anonymity, and technical impacts, springing from a discussion with a director from the Electronic Privacy Information Center and from comments on an earlier blog.

Shortening cookies: Using OpenID to improve government privacy online

By Andy Oram
July 30, 2009

The OMB recently requested new perspectives on the federal cookie policy. My proposal took the opportunity to re-examine the federal approach to privacy.

Four short links: 16 July 2009

By Nat Torkington
July 15, 2009

Transparency Camp West -- a few more slots left for Google-hosted Aug 8 and 9 Bar Camp on open government. Meeting Ticker -- count the cost of a meeting in real time, just enter the number of people, the time it started, and the average salary. (via make on Twitter) More Creative Shops Are Commercializing Their Own Product Lines...

Personal Democracy Forum conference: initial themes

By Andy Oram
June 29, 2009

The first day at the Personal Democracy Forum conference revolved around the freedom to experiment, necessary infrastructure, and the need to change.


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