|All About the Data - saturday 2006-02-18 0003||last modified 2006-02-20 1743|
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Many's the time I want data to do arcane and unspeakable things with somebody else's data, like get some clear answers to strategic questions. I know there's a finite set of data that makes a lot of sense and nobody's assembled it properly into a form where you can start getting an overview of it all. For instance, I want to take some folks snowboarding somewhere with a park near Boston that does group rates. If it's too far, I'll need accomodations.
That sounds simple enough to me. Data on commercial mountains, their locations, features, special rates, and surrounding accomodations would make a lot of sense to keep together and make available. But Google doesn't tell me much. There is one fellow who put together a bunch of static pages on New England mountains, complete with maps, for last season, but that data's not really queryable. Add in that most mountains only disclose their location by directions or maps at a scale where you know in which general direction to look if you're in Mexico, and this is just not a fun bunch of data to assemble - and I'm the one who has to assemble it.
I'm starting to think the hallmark of who I can trust - for now - is those who give others an opportunity to play with their data in sane ways. Be it a service, source code, an API, or easily accessible information, the more data (and better quality), the more trustworthy you'll seem to me.
Always it's a lack of information, always I feel I must do the digging until I have what I need to start querying the data for interesting answers. Yes, I am trying to assemble that boarding data, and yes, I will share it when I'm done. Yes, I really want your contributions (names of mountains, addresses, coordinates, web addresses - those are good things to give). But it all wears on me.
Start publishing your data. It may soon be time to open up a data.ryanlee.org to serve up these things I throw together. You can find some in SIMILE's Semantic Bank, but that's not yet a truly queryable repository. Some day.
It's all about the data.
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