sábado, 2 de noviembre de 2013

Sir Tim Berners-Lee: data and the new web - Telegraph.co.uk

This is a world enabled by novel components that are only now coming together: it's an internet of things, where inanimate objects are online, communicating with each other and performing tasks humans may consider too mundane.

There are two challenges in the face of this brave new world. Most immediately, says Sir Tim: "It's a constant battle of mindsets – once people have got the open data bug they realise the benefit. They realise they're performing a service to the country. With the original web, people could see the benefits. But with this you don't immediately know the benefits or who is using it. It could be another company or a kid doing homework or somebody in the World Bank – nobody's really able to be able to work out the investment."

Where it has happened, the returns seem vast. At Transport for London, Sir Tim says, the total money saved by releasing data – whether it's in shorter queues, less waiting or fewer visits to ticket offices – meant that for each pound invested in open data, £45 was saved. "Compare that to HS2," he says.

Much of the groundwork on open data has been done by the newly knighted Sir Nigel Shadbolt, with whom Sir Tim runs the ODI. He says the uphill battle must be fought at the highest levels: "When we were trying to release the crime data, various chief constables were telling the Home Secretary that public confidence in the police would collapse, that the prices of houses would collapse – this never happens. Invariably what happens is that people who were sitting there being very sceptical realise 'this is a very powerful tool for us'."

Sir Tim agrees. "What's been difficult about it has been persuading people one by one to move from an idea that 'It's my data, I'll protect it,' to an open date mindset," he says. Overall, he believes there "is a wave of change. Certainly the overall direction is toward openness".

But worries remain: the Treasury released a database of government expenditure codenamed Coins that was "a big statement", says Sir Tim. "But the Treasury seems to be the one place where it's set up to not get it – where it's set up to try to make the country break even by making sure that each department breaks even. So there's no way of measuring the benefit to the whole."

The real achievements, Sir Tim says, will come "as the linking starts to happen" between newly released data sets. Only then, he argues, will the true power of the web he invented actually be realised. And while many may fear for their jobs in a more efficient world, he and Sir Nigel argue we should look forward to "a new cadre of professions – all of them prefixed with the word 'data'."

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