Data for the Public Good

February 12th, 2012 by

Reshared post from +Tim O’Reilly

Data for the Public Good

In the first of the public lectures at Code for America sponsored by EMC/Greenplum, +Michal Migurski talks about Stamen Design's work in visualization. Some key points:

Data Drives Demand. When Stamen launched, it made people aware that the data existed. It was there, but until they put visualization front and center, it might as well not have been.

Public Demand drives better data. Crimespotting led Oakland to improve their data publishing practices. The stability of the data and publishing on the web made it possible to have this data addressable with public links. There's an "official version", and that version is public, rather than hidden.

Facts = Public Memory. Michal makes the point that the financial crisis was partly a crisis of public knowledge. He points to an article by Hernando de Soto, The Destruction of Economic Facts:

Version Control Adds Dimension to Data. Part of what matters so much when open source, the web, and open data meet government is that practices that developers take for granted become part of the way the public gets access to data. Rather than static snapshots, there's a sense that you can expect to move through time with the data.

Moving on, +Eric Rodenbeck shows some fabulous visualizations of housing data. It's amazing to watch the organic growth of San Francisco (based on Trulia data) from the 1850s through the present, versus the almost stamped out growth of subdivisions in a Texas town (don't remember which one.)

Also a great visualization of rent vs buy – NYC is so overwhelmingly better to rent, just about the only city in the US where that's so.

He also gives us a lovely tour of a watercolor-style map visualization that Stamen is working on. (This is +Aaron Straup Cope's work – you can actually buy this as art on 20×200 – for example, http://www.20×

Embedded Link

The Destruction of Economic Facts – BusinessWeek
Renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues that the financial crisis wasn't just about finance—it was about a staggering lack of knowledge.

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