Launched – the opportunity and challenge

Today I’m really pleased to announce that we’ve launched, a volunteer driven site I’m collaboratively creating with a small group of friends and, I hope, a growing community that, if you are interested, may include you.

As many of you already know I, and many other people, want our governments to open up and share their data, in useful, structured formats that people can actually use or analyze. Unlike our American and British peers, the Canadian Federal (and provincial…) government(s) currently have no official, coordinated effort to release government data.

I think that should change.

So rather than merely complain that we don’t have a or in Canada, we decided to create one ourselves. We can model what we want our governments to do and even create limited versions of the service ourselves. So that is what we are doing with this site. A stab at showing our government, and Canada, what a federal open data portal could and should look like – one that I’m hoping people will want to help make a success.

Some two things to share.

First, what’s our goal for the site?

  • Be an innovative platform that demonstrates how government should share data.
  • Create an incentive for government to share more data by showing ministers, public servants and the public which ministries are sharing data, and which are not.
  • Provide a useful service to citizens interested in open data by bringing it all the government data together into one place to both make it easier to find.

Second, our big challenge.

As Luke C, one community member said to me – getting the site up is the easier part. The real challenge is building a community of people who will care for it and help make it a living, growing and evolving success. Here there is lots of work still to be done. But if you feel passionate about open government and are interested in joining our community, we’d love to have you. At the moment, especially as we still get infrastructure to support the community in place, we are convening at a google group here.

So what our some of the things I think are a priority in the short term?

  • Adding or bulk scraping in more data sets so the site more accurately displays what is available
  • Locating data sets that are open and ready to be “liberated”
  • Documenting how to add or scrape in a data set to allow people to help more easily
  • Implement a more formal bug and feature tracker
  • Plus lots of other functionality I know I at least (and I’m sure there are lots more ideas out there) would like to add (like “request a closed data set”)

As Clay Shirky once noted about any open source project, is powered by love. If people love the site and love what it is trying to accomplish, then we will have a community interested in helping make it a success. I know I love – and so my goal is to help you love it too, and to do everything I can to make it as easy as possible for you to make whatever contribution you’d like to make. Creating a great community is the hardest but best part of any project. We are off to a great start, and I hope to maybe see you on the google group.

Finally, just want to thank everyone who has helped so far, including the fine people at Raised Eyebrow Web Studio, Luke Closs, and a number of fantastic coders from the Open Knowledge Foundation. There are also some great people over at the Google Group who have helped scrape data, tested for bugs and been supportive and helpful in so many ways.

14 thoughts on “ Launched – the opportunity and challenge

  1. Herb Lainchbury

    Congratulations David and team. The site looks great and is something a lot of us have been hoping to see. It's a great example of citizens doing some of the heavy lifting so that government doesn't have to do all of the thinking and all of the doing. We need more of these sorts of efforts.

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  3. Lauren Bacon

    Congratulations, Dave — and thanks for giving Raised Eyebrow the opportunity to work with you on this project; it's been hugely inspiring on all kinds of levels. I know this is just the beginning, but it's exciting to unveil it to the public and start gathering input from a wider pool of people.One thing I'd like to add here is a link to the How to Get Involved page, which spells out a variety of ways people can help make the site better. There's lots to be done and the more people pitch in, the more useful the site will become.Again, congratulations – and I'm looking forward to seeing the evolution of DataDotGC!

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  5. Anon

    Congrats, this is great work! Just a quick comment to mention that you may want to reconsider the use of the word “Ministry” to categorize the federal departments. The word “ministère” is used in French to identify departments, but “Ministry” has religious connotation in English. “Department” may be a better/more neutral choice.

  6. David Eaves

    Hi Anon,Thank you for the advice! Going to look into this. One key interest of mine is to have accurate names, so will investigate to see if department is being used in preference to ministry.

  7. David Eaves

    Hi Anon,Thank you for the advice! Going to look into this. One key interest of mine is to have accurate names, so will investigate to see if department is being used in preference to ministry.

  8. Pingback: Notes for 4/18/2010 at MasterMaq's Blog

  9. Pingback: – A Drupal case study » Blog: Raised Eyebrow Web Studio, Inc.

  10. Pingback: Open Knowledge Foundation Blog » Blog Archive » Canadian citizen-driven data catalogue is powered by CKAN

  11. Pingback: Launching 2.0 – bigger, better and in the clouds |

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