×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Berners-Lee Calls For Government Data Transparency

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the data-for-the-people dept.

Government 48

eldavojohn writes "Two months ago, Tim Berners-Lee unveiled a UK Government data project with the goal to make government data more useful for everyone. Today he is calling on the rest of the world's governments to become more transparent with their nonsensitive data. After only a few months, his project boasts around forty applications for using government data (screenshot example here). The BBC article notes the interesting uses of public data in India and Brazil that are disappointingly lacking in other countries — even the United States. Hopefully the US's data.gov will evolve to hosting apps instead of just data."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

48 comments

Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524318)

The thing that gets me is that TBL designed the internet protocols we use every day. Yet they are so full of plaintext and the technology to process it is all based around slicing and dicing this data up to turn it back into usable binary data that it's amazing we've come this far on such a rickety technology.

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31524340)

Not to mention all the security that then needed to be patched on top of it to make it something less of a thieves paradise than it already is.

Nigger Joke (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31524346)

What do you call a bunch of niggers in a barn?

Antique farm equipment!!

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (2, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524404)

The thing that gets me is that TBL designed the internet protocols we use every day. Yet they are so full of plaintext and the technology to process it is all based around slicing and dicing this data up to turn it back into usable binary data that it's amazing we've come this far on such a rickety technology.

"Rickety technology?!" Well, TBL should be so lucky to have you waste time posting about him on Slashdot. We're all waiting for your revolutionary code to be donated free of licenses. Are you working with Stanford on their clean slate project announced three years ago [slashdot.org]? How's that going?

For all the crap people give the current internet, there's a whole lot of talk and not a lot of work being done. Keep in mind that if you don't license it for free, it's going to perish like the U of MN's gopher protocol [wikipedia.org] which could have been the internet protocol.

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (-1, Troll)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524422)

Wow, I didn't realize there were still people on Slashdot dumb enough to fall for a BadAnalogyGuy troll post.

The web is built upon hack after hack. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31524504)

Mr. Linux Nutsack, I respect your opinion on this matter, but BadAnalogyGuy is actually correct, whether he was trying to be funny or not.

The World Wide Web is built upon a base of rickety technology. Basically every web-related technology is a hack. JavaScript is one of the most significant hacks, in order to add interactivity. Cookies are a hack, in order to get around a lack of state storage. The various HTTP headers relating to caching are one of the most miserable of hacks. The ability of browsers to accept even the shittiest of HTML is another huge hack. The compression of HTTP responses is another hack. SSL is a hack. HTML5 will bring a boatload of new hacks to the table.

The web only works today because so many people have invested so much time in creating these hacks, and then spending literally years debugging them and getting them to a point where they're somewhat "standardized" and sort of work, most of the time.

Re:The web is built upon hack after hack. (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524566)

Mr. Linux Nutsack, I respect your opinion on this matter, but BadAnalogyGuy is actually correct, whether he was trying to be funny or not.

I wasn't saying he was wrong. The point, though, is that BadAnalogyGuy posts things in order to bait idiots such as eldavojohn who bite.

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524582)

what's even scarier is that it's eldavonjohn, so "you must be new here" doesn't work :S

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31527546)

It is rickety technology.

You work for free if you want.

Some of us have to buy stuff.

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (2, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524444)

Its like we're all enjoying transporting drunken cheerleaders across State lines in our fancy pants flying cars, but they're still using the same old steam engine that TBL designed under the hood.

(Psst... you're slipping)

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31524584)

BinaryXML (EXI) licenses aren't cheap. Until binary XML is standardised and affordable, we're stuck with legacy sub-optimal bloated plaintext technology.

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524902)

compress(XML) should do the trick... parsing time is negligible, the only advantage would be an index, but there are other tricks for that like embedding it in the XML or creating a separate smaller index file.
I like the trick DriveImage XML uses: one binary blob with all files after each other and a plaintext XML file with filenames and byte positions, this is a great example of the strength of XML and binary data combined.

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525002)

Ehm [sourceforge.net], what non-cheap licences?

Re:Binary XML (EXI) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31525194)

"(EXI) format specification written in the Java programming language."

That's Java, dude. Browser developers use C/C++. Until it's in the browser, it hasn't arrived.

Re:Binary XML (EXI) (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31526228)

Browsers? I haven't seen anyone mentioning browsers.

Re:Binary XML (EXI) (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31526706)

You don't just consider the format in isolation, you need to consider the application.

If we are to create, transmit and parse optimal, efficiently compressed content on the interwebz, the browsers need to be able to parse it and tools, scripting languages, etc. need to be able to read/write the format.

EXI appears to be a good solution, but there is no low cost C/C++ implementation that I am aware of.

Agile Delta (EXI inventor) have a C/C++ solution, but it's $loadsamoney.

An unrestricted (ie. not GPL or dual licensed) C/C++ reference implementation would be handy if this format is to become widely adopted.

FastInfoSet (alternative BinaryXML proposal) solutions are available at lower cost (including open source/free), but the W3C alledges that EXI is a superior format.

http://www.w3.org/XML/EXI

If anyone has the mood to port the Java EXI reference implementation to C/C++ that would move this discussion beyond chat and into a realization phase.

I'd be happy to do it, but like most of us, I'm a little busy with other work.

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (2, Interesting)

drgould (24404) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525312)

Yet they are so full of plaintext and the technology to process it is all based around slicing and dicing this data up to turn it back into usable binary data that it's amazing we've come this far on such a rickety technology.

The advantage of transferring data as plaintext is that you can slice and dice it to your heart's content. Instead of transferring it in some binary format that may be proprietary or non-extensible or out-dated in a few years.

In other words, plaintext is a feature not a bug.

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31527254)

> In other words, plaintext is a feature not a bug.

Binary formats can be patent free, extensible and can evolve to keep up with new requirements too.

They are not directly human readable (the only advantage of plaintext), but you can convert to/from a human readable form whenever this is required.

We should not be using an uncompressed plaintext format for transmitting information over the internet. Not everyone has a high speed connection.

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (2, Insightful)

drgould (24404) | more than 4 years ago | (#31527824)

> In other words, plaintext is a feature not a bug.

They are not directly human readable (the only advantage of plaintext), but you can convert to/from a human readable form whenever this is required.

I would submit that the tools to slice and dice plaintext are easier to write and debug than binary tools. And since I assume in this context "plaintext" really means "XML", there are tested, debugged, standardized libraries for importing, exporting and manipulating XML for all languages and all platforms that I'm familar with.

And you can convert to/from binary format whenever this is required.

We should not be using an uncompressed plaintext format for transmitting information over the internet. Not everyone has a high speed connection.

One word, gzip [wikipedia.org].

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (1)

hydroponx (1616401) | more than 4 years ago | (#31528290)

One word, gzip [wikipedia.org].

gzip is great as long [microsoft.com] as [microsoft.com] you're [microsoft.com] not [microsoft.com] supporting [microsoft.com] ie6 [microsoft.com]

 

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31528836)

One word, gzip [wikipedia.org].

gzip is great as long [microsoft.com] as [microsoft.com] you're [microsoft.com] not [microsoft.com] supporting [microsoft.com] ie6 [microsoft.com]

Why would you want to support IE6?

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (1)

hydroponx (1616401) | more than 4 years ago | (#31529060)

Unfortunately, there's still a lot of businesses running ie6 internally, so if you are (or work for) a software vendor that happens to sell/distribute/support web apps it's still a big consideration.

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31528346)

> I would submit that the tools to slice and dice plaintext are easier to write and debug than binary tools.

Depends on the format. If I want to read an array of floats (say a bunch of 3D points), it's easier to read them in as a bunch of 4 byte binary chunks than to parse a text string. In any case, this stuff only needs writing and debugging once then you just call library functions. We don't store images in plaintext because binary is too hard to work with. Frankly, if you can't handle working with binary formats, you are part of the problem.

gzip is legacy. If you want optimal generic lossless compression, lzma is best in class as far as I know.

EXI can do a better job of compressing XML than a generic lossless compressor because it knows the grammar it is compressing.

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (1)

drgould (24404) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531628)

If I want to read an array of floats (say a bunch of 3D points), it's easier to read them in as a bunch of 4 byte binary chunks than to parse a text string.

Big or little endian? X86, ARM or IBM or other processor? IEEE 128, 64, 32 or 16 bit format? Gotta know exactly what format those binary data points are in or you're screwed. Plaintext... not so much.

We don't store images in plaintext because binary is too hard to work with.

But you can easily convert binary to plaintext using base64 [wikipedia.org] or similar conversion.

gzip is legacy. If you want optimal generic lossless compression, lzma is best in class as far as I know.

Don't care. My point is that compression algorithms are well known and plaintext is easy to compress.

My point is that plaintext is simple, easy to use, and program, operating system and processor agnostic. Just the sort of thing you want to use when you have to transfer data from one computer running a random combination of program, operating system and processor to another computer running a different random combination of program, operating system and processor.

Re:Binary XML (library support) (1)

advance-software (1770510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31528808)

> I assume in this context "plaintext" really means "XML" In this context plaintext does refer to XML including, but not limited to optimal XHTML compression, decompression & parsing. >And you can convert to/from binary format whenever this is required. Which (C/C++) libraries support binary XML serialization in EXI format ?

Re:Yeah yeah, he's a smart dude (1)

tbuskey (135499) | more than 4 years ago | (#31536652)

The thing that gets me is that TBL designed the internet protocols we use every day. Yet they are so full of plaintext and the technology to process it is all based around slicing and dicing this data up to turn it back into usable binary data that it's amazing we've come this far on such a rickety technology.

The thing that gets me is Microsoft designed the file formats we use in Office every day. Yet they are so full of binary that's not portable and subject to endianess issues. The tech to slice & dice the data to make it available on portable media such as the web or non intel cpus has to be all reverse engineered. Even Microsoft has issues with backward compatibility. It's amazing this rickety technology has lasted so long.

TBL didn't use a binary format for a reason. I have LaTeX documents created on a VAX in 1987 that have been used on DOS, DTSS, MacOS, OS/2, Windows 95, Linux, SunOS, Solaris. The could still be used today. A Word document created in 1987 or even 1995, not so much. There would be issues going from Windows 95 to MacOS as well.

Another internet nutcase with delusions on grandeu (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31524560)

This guy is a real nut case.

Asking the U.K. Government For Transparency (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31524672)

is analogous to asking for banking reform in the United States of Amerika.

Yours In Perm,
K. Trout

This is how the transparency will be implemented (2, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524772)

You will see everything in front of the government, you will see everything behind the government, but you won't see what the government is today and what it is doing, because the government will be, well, transparent.

Anti-social (1)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524704)

Of particular note is the ASBOrometer which is a mobile application (iPhone and Android) that measures levels of anti-social behaviour at your current location (within England and Wales) and gives you access to key local ASB statistics. This app was number one in the top free UK iTunes app store last week.

So, this application keeps tracks of all nerds like me? Pretty harsh for not going outside...

Re:Anti-social (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31525072)

You're confusing anti-social and asocial. Unfortunately, they are conflated in US English.

A private public service project in Portugal (3, Interesting)

Sr. Zezinho (16813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524726)

An interesting project coming from a private foundation, instead of the government, is Pordata, a database of statistical data about Portugal:

http://www.pordata.pt/ [pordata.pt]

No, the Government should not host "apps". (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31524972)

"data.gov" should not host "apps". Just release the raw data, and let others analyze it.

If the Government provides "apps", they will be limited in annoying ways and won't be integrated with data from other sources.

Re:No, the Government should not host "apps". (2, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525362)

How do you know this as a fact?

Maybe the apps would be open source and allow extensive configuration. Besides, maybe the raw data would be there as well.

After all, it is a government by, for and of the people, isn't it?

Re:No, the Government should not host "apps". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31525918)

Hilarious. Plenty of people bitch about gov't spending on Constitutionally-mandated programs (and I work on the US Census, so I hear it all the time), but then there's talk of apps to access data and suddenly, "Oh, yeah, the government should be spending money on that!!!!" I have a better idea. We'll keep putting out the data, someone else can write the apps. We'll write something if we need it, and we'll try to put it out to the public if it's appropriate to do so and we have time. How about that, instead?

Re:No, the Government should not host "apps". (2, Insightful)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525748)

"Apps" may be bad, but a usable API to the raw data might be good.

Like "look, we get that you might want to look at only a subset of our 6 terabyte database. We'll let you run a limited number of queries per minute and return just that relevant subset of data for you." could be really handy.

Re:No, the Government should not host "apps". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31529364)

Agreed.

Its data .gov not apps.gov

Give us free access to the data and let us do our own analysis.

It's not hosting apps - it's "linking" to them (1)

mattpalmer1086 (707360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31531296)

But data.gov is not hosting apps, just the data. It's doing this webby thing TBL invented called "linking" to them.

Almost magically, they are actually hosted and written by by entirely different people and organisations, and yet you can access them from data.gov's own pages.

Maybe you should click on one of those "links" at the top of this page and RTFA...

No more unfunded mandates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31525160)

The reason that data.gov is, and will remain, so lame is that it was done through an unconstitutional unfunded mandate. Which brings up an important topic - the OMB and Bush's silent coup.
Few people have picked up on this, but President Bush, whether through impatience or malice, attempted a silent coup to usurp many of the powers of Congress. He did this through the Office of Management and Budget. Normally it is Congress that sets up federal programs, and passes legislation which both enables and funds them. Bush attempted to create a back-door path to implement programs he couldn't get through Congress. Every year, all federal agencies give their budget requests to the OMB to be assembled into the Presidents budget request to Congress. Bush decided that he could use this mechanism to extort agencies into doing his will. He had the OMB issue directives, then threatened agencies that if they didn't execute the directives, the OMB would cut their budget request to Congress. The problem was that since these directives were never enacted by Congress, they weren't themselves funded. Thus agencies were blackmailed into diverting funds that were supplied by Congress for real programs into non-Congressionally approved directives or face back-door budget cuts. Using this unconstitutional method of forcing agencies to implemented unfunded directives, the Bush administration started a slew of clandestine activities of debatable merit. There was implementation of IPv6, there was the Trusted Internet Connections directive to force agencies to use the illegally sole-sourced Einstein boxes from NSA, then there was the HSPD12 directive for new employee badges and background checks, etc. etc. etc. When President Obama was elected, agencies rejoiced, hoping that the mandate for change would include abandoning the use of unfunded directives enforced through blackmail. However to their dismay, Obama has embraced the Bush legacy, and is now using htis mechanism to attempt to implement a number of ideas that the Whitehouse is too lazy to run through Congress first. Data.gov is unfortunately one of these unconstitutional programs, which is why it is doomed to forever be pathetic, under-executed, and lame.

Vancouver data is open..still waiting for StatsCan (2, Informative)

el chief (1768752) | more than 4 years ago | (#31525462)

City of Vancouver data is open now, at: http://data.vancouver.ca/ [vancouver.ca] Still can't find a goddam list of all the buildings in Vancouver. How hard is that? Statistics Canada are still dinosaurs. They charge for access to data we paid them to collect.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...