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1) Questions for the article Put in Your Postcode, Out Comes the Data: A Case Study (sent via email or here: )

A. What other advantages or disadvantages might there be (other than the examples mentioned in the article) in providing 'greater transparency amongst public sector departments and to target public services to areas of best need'.

B. How can we make use of linked and non-linked data formats in terms of publishing data?

C. When should people's right to privacy begin to interfere with optimal accessibility of data?

Dan: OK, so this is essentially a mashup of publicly-available government records. I think there are numerous benefits, including easier navigation, and the fact that you can answer questions more easily because the data is all in one place. I'm probably not going to be able to find all of the data required, for example, to answer questions at the intersection of crime, economics, and geography, for example.
The idea that "citizens are at the heart of service designs and accountability" is really interesting. Right now, in CTL1609, we're having a discussion about whether people use the Internet to become politically involved. There are some authors that suggest a current apathy among our young generations. In our context, and even with linked public records in useful formats, are they going to take the initiative and get involved in design/accountability?
I liked how the article stressed that it's not easy to simply mash data together. First you have to find the data. Then you have to figure out how exactly to connect it (i.e. determine the join points). These two things are definitely not immediate (it's why so many different mashup tools can be created from a single cache of data like GoogleMaps).

The issue of opening government data is promising for ease of reuse. However, it might not be an ideal model for some countries with the history of censorship. In tis case, it might create an opportunity for abusing the data by providing access to particular data or partial access. I was also wondering if there is any possibility to have unified data format in future to solve challenges in data publishing? (Minoo)

Regarding the first question, I think a crucial advantage that this article seems to overlook is the possibility for using open data to shame corrupt officials. Transparency is great if you want to keep possibly corrupt or unthrifty officials on a leash, but it's also a fantastic tool to catch them red-handed and expose things like pork-barrel spending.
Regarding the second question, I think applying and using uniform standards and frameworks when publishing data that might be considered for re-use is absolutely essential. The article does a pretty good job of pointing out the difficulties and challenges inherent in scraping. Eventually, the semantic web will promote the facilitation of this through ever-more-useful standardization tools. Notice, of course, that Tim Berners-Lee is affiliated with the article. His entire professional career has been about promoting openness and standardization. 
Regarding the last question, I hope I'm not in the minority here, but I think privacy should be the default. I believe there are only the rarest of situations that call for access to (and publication of) a person's private data, and even then I favour encrypted, single-use inputs with expiry dates on them. The tools are available to completely anonymize data. Efficiency and rationalization should never, in my opinion, take precedence over privacy. I defer here to Ann Cavoukian, the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, who has written extensively on the sharing and use of different sensitive datasets, and the implication for privacy. (Gabby)

I find that privacy is a fascinating issue with layered systems...It actually ties with other ideals such as the right to withhold your sources information (in media), unless there is an issue of nation security. However are the determinants, and the stakeholders in privacy. Other implications involve the social network systems that have multiple layers not just within your own private site but also other connected sites. What, how, and why do people utilize all the multiple layers of this information. Cheryl

Rebecca: I see a connection here to urban planning. Abstract linked data can be mapped to 3D visual models. This would allow for citizens to have a greater understanding of the implications of a proposed development project in their community, for example. When the public can "see" what the outcome of a planned project will be, meaningful dialogue can be created among government officials, architects, business owners, developers, residents and other stakeholders. In this way the power shifts from the "expert" to the public, empowering citizens.

2) Please view the following Ted Talk video given by landscape ecologist Eric Sanderson- it's pretty amazing! You may add any comments or questions regarding the clip.

It's tough to tell from the video (or Welikia/Mannahatta website) what sort of GIS software Sanderson and his colleagues used to conceptualize this project. For any geography-minded people out there, though, I strongly recommend downloading and playing with Quantum GIS, a free and open-source, cross-platform geographic information tool. It's easy to use, and there are lots of tutorials for it available across the web. (Gabby)

The conceptualization of this project has powerful implications for learning. I think that mapping the past (marine communities, ecological systems, biological systems that existed) - have a possible implication for future lands (cities, etc.) Powerful connections to Aboriginal people/Native Americans and use of land. Also - I find the video and also the articles an interesting collection - that give evidence to 'subsystems' such as aggregation, generalization, specialization, and inheritance hierarchies. The visualization of a layered system is dependent on architecture. Cheryl

3) Please also brainstorm ideas for your layering systems (to add onto Google Earth) so you are well prepared for next class.

Presentation used over the two weeks:

Conversation in class over presentation:

Planning document with all resources:

Sample layer in Google Earth from group:


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