The White House opens the data floodgates, and now the real work will begin

A beautiful picture


President Obama on Thursday signed an executive order making open data the default policy for the federal government. This is a hugely significant move, although one that can and will have its openness and thus, significance, chipped away over time. But it’s a good start.

While we may never get the full extent of government spying on citizens in machine-readable formats, the Census, FDA testing, EPA and myriad other data will offer a treasure trove of information for years to come. And by making it open and machine readable, it will presumably be harder to bury such data in physical warehouses or behind crazy fees.

The executive order is here. Essentially it requires the government to do the following:

  • Figure out what data the agencies have, and make an index
  • List all of their publicly available data in a public place
  • List all of the information that could be…

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