Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Open Data versus Capatalism?

Ian Davis was recently quoted saying open data is more important than open source, which was pulled (out of context) from this presentation. The context was (a slide earlier): Data outlasts code.

As far as I can see, this is utter nonsense, even within context of the slide (see also this discussion on FriendFeed). Obviously, within the context of Ian it does makes sense, and I hope he will respond in his blog and explain why he thinks Open Data is more special.

Without code, you have no way of accessing the data. Ask anyone to recover from a hard disk failure. In ODOSOS (Open Standards, Open Data, Open Source) they are all equal. You need them all for progress. You cannot single out one as being more important than another. Why would you anyway? Politics is all I can think of... All three combine and ensure our science is more efficient.

Fishy Perspective (what's in a name) comments on this in Data Vendetta, and I will take one quote out of context:
    Organizations are spending lot of money do generate proprietary data to safeguard its competitive edge, why you are convinced that they need to disclose that, no one is here for charity. Most the companies have their proprietary data policies, and they release the data in public only when there is sufficient overlap from publicly available databases.
Open Data versus Capitalism?
Companies are about money making, and there is nothing wrong with that. Others to work to make the world a better place.

If Rosalind had not shared her data (following Data Vendetta, and not going into whether she did willingly or knowingly), all current pharmaceutical research would have been delayed by half a year(?), more(?)... who knows. Even that half year would have meant quite a lot of death people. A lot of medicine would have not been discovered or hit the market at the same time. Capitalism is one thing, not good, not bad, orthogonal really. Capitalism as ideology does not contradict Open Data. But sharing knowledge as Open Data always has a positive effect on mankind.

If you want to make money, please do, as much as you can. But please pick carefully what you want to make money on. Be creative! Do some innovation! Be bold! Go where no one has gone before!


  1. I could not agree more, but I am not supporting any kind of capitalism here or there. There is no such things that OD is better than OS. Regarding the capitalism don't you agree that even academic institutions are holding so many patents those are no use for them, but still they never stop claiming it. Observations such as companies are releasing data in bigger than ever just hyped. They release data on regular basis, so the patents also expire after 20 years. If that data was so much good then why their drug pipelines are so dry, and by sitting on data no one can make money.

  2. Gentlemen,

    Application code is truly like "Fish" and "Data" like "Wine" :-)

    Application logic comes and goes, but you data is with you forever. It is the key to everything.

    You don't need bloated unmaintanable code to exploit data. You simply don't. Model you data, make it accessible in a manner where data access and representation are separated (i.e. what you see re. HTTP) and you will be very very happy as time goes on.

    Open Source isn't useless but it simply doesn't match Openly accessible data over the long run re. value.


    1. -- post about the subject

  3. The link to my post is:

  4. Take 3 re. blog post link re. "fish" and "wine" as it relates to applications and data.


  5. Kingsley, why are you so keen on making the point that Open Data is more important than Open Source? What makes data so special, compared to algorithms to handle the data?

    Do you really consider any existing library (of any kind) practically useful with information technologies? Seriously, what century do you come from, or have you found eternal life that you can spend unlimited amount of time to mine the data by hand and paper?

    I really do not see why data is not just equally important as source...

    And why do you think it is important to make the distinction anyway??