Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • FUMI YAMAZAKI: OK.

  • Hello everyone.

  • Thank you for coming.

  • I'm super excited that we're having Joel

  • Gurin the author of this book "Open Data Now" to Google.

  • JOEL GURIN: OK.

  • Thank you all so much for coming.

  • I want to say a couple of quick things before we get started.

  • You can see on this slide I have a website as well as a book.

  • The website is also open data now,

  • just for the sake of simplicity.

  • I use @joelgurin for Twitter I also

  • use the hash tag #opendatanow.

  • There is a pattern there.

  • I'm very happy to be speaking to you today.

  • Also, if you didn't see it on the way in, on the way out,

  • there is a sign up sheet if you're

  • interested in getting free email updates from my website

  • or from the GovLab.

  • Please sign up and we'll keep in touch,

  • because there is a lot to talk about.

  • So why open data and how did I get into this particular area?

  • I have to start by saying I am probably by a couple of orders

  • of magnitude the least technical person in this room right now.

  • So what you're going to hear from me--

  • and it is a little humbling, to say the least, to come

  • to talk about data to Google-- but what

  • I hope I can bring to this is a sort

  • of sense of overall perspective and context

  • from the work that I've done in government and non-profits,

  • as a journalist and now in academia.

  • I really have tried to get us a sense and sort of paint

  • a picture of how open data is being seen and used

  • in society today that I hope will be helpful to all of you.

  • And I certainly hope we have a little time for questions.

  • So my background very briefly-- as Fumi told you,

  • I began as a science journalist.

  • I was editorial director, and then

  • executive vice president of "Consumer Reports" when

  • we launched consumerreports.org, which

  • is the largest paid information subscription site on the web

  • now with about 3 million active paid subscribers.

  • Shortly after that, I went to the Federal Communications

  • Commission, began as head of the Consumer Bureau.

  • And at that point our chairman, Julius Genachowski,

  • was very interested in figuring out

  • how we can give consumers help in a simple decision

  • like choosing a cellphone plan.

  • Well choosing a cellphone plan ends up

  • being kind of like solving some difficult problem in topology

  • or some such thing or at least in

  • statistics, because there are about 1,000 different cellphone

  • plans offered by a company like Verizon.

  • You multiply that by the number of companies,

  • you factor in the fact that every consumer has

  • different needs, so it became pretty clear as I was looking

  • at this and this is a problem is more complicated than it

  • looks at first.

  • It also turns out to be very similar to problems

  • that other government agencies face

  • in trying to advise consumers on things

  • like financial services, housing, mortgages, education,

  • and so on.

  • So I began talking to people in other agencies

  • about consumer information, generally.

  • Out of that I was invited to chair the White House Task

  • Force on Smart Disclosure.

  • Smart disclosure being the term that we developed

  • to describe giving data to consumers

  • that they can use to make complex decisions.

  • That report came out last May.

  • And from that work I became more involved

  • in open data and open government more generally.

  • I met Beth Noveck, who some of you

  • may know as the head of the Open Government Initiative

  • during President Obama's first term and a real pioneer

  • and open government and open data.

  • She has now invited me to come work at the GovLab

  • that she founded at NYU.

  • And I'll tell you a few things about that.

  • And I also have this website and this book on open data

  • now, so I am sort of running the open data

  • practice for the GovLab and looking

  • at the implications of open data in many ways.

  • Just a couple words about the GovLab.

  • I won't read what you can see on the screen,

  • but our basic hypothesis and our mission

  • is to figure out how to use technology and collaborative

  • platforms and basically 21st century

  • approaches to help improve governance and government,

  • and the way that citizens and government interact.

  • We think that people should interact with government more

  • than when they vote once a year or when

  • they happen to make a comment on We the People petition website

  • or something like that.

  • We're looking at ways to really develop

  • a different level of engagement that

  • is good both for citizens and for government as well.

  • And this model of collaborative democracy we feel

  • has three major modes of operation-

  • the first one is sharing responsibility,

  • where a government can take a piece of what

  • has been a government responsibility

  • and delegate that to citizens.

  • And here the paradigm is participatory budgeting,

  • where in 1,500 cities around the world now

  • the city government is saying, you take a chunk of the budget

  • and spend it as you wish.

  • We think that can be done in many other kinds of governance

  • situations and that would be very productive.

  • The second modality is getting knowledge and expertise in.

  • Figuring out ways that not just the traditional government

  • advisers, but people with technical abilities,

  • technical skills, insight into community issues, and so on,

  • can advise government at the federal, state, and city level

  • and we're seeing a lot of models for that.

  • And then the third modality is getting open data out,

  • which is what I work on and what I'm going to talk about today.

  • So what is open data?

  • There are a number of good definitions

  • that have been done by different groups

  • like the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Sunlight

  • Foundation.

  • What I did in writing this book was

  • to choose a fairly general definition-

  • that open data is accessible public data that people,

  • companies, and organizations can use to launch new ventures,

  • analyze patterns and trends, make data-driven decisions,

  • and solve complex problems.

  • This definition incorporates not only

  • open data from government, which is where a lot of the focus

  • has been, but also open data from sources like social media.

  • For many sources that are accessible to you

  • at Google, and from other kinds of data that companies

  • themselves may choose to release in different ways, as

  • well scientific data.

  • So what you're going to hear me talk about today

  • is open data in all of those forms

  • and how they relate to each other,

  • and how they relate to social and business goals.

  • I do think-- and I'm certainly convinced having now

  • worked in this area for a couple of years--

  • that we're talking about a phenomenon that

  • has tremendous implications and tremendous impact

  • potentially not only for business, but also

  • for as for scientists, for journalists,

  • for consumers, and for government.

  • And in many ways, we're starting to see

  • a convergence of the civic and the commercial uses

  • of open data, where we're seeing some ventures that

  • may start as non-profits that turn out to have a sustainable

  • business model.

  • And we're seeing businesses that turn out

  • to be actually extremely mission driven

  • in their use of open data.

  • And you'll see many examples today.

  • What is open data not?

  • Open data is not the same as big data.

  • And it's not the same as open government

  • and it's not even really a blending

  • of big data and open government.

  • It's a different kind animal.

  • Big data also has many definitions.

  • I think the only thing everybody agrees on, at least when

  • I ask them, is that when you're talking

  • about what you mean by big data, we mean like really, really

  • a lot of data.

  • Really big data sets, which is not too surprising.

  • I think you can more accurately say that big data involves

  • data sets that are at the current limit of our ability

  • to analyze and use, but, of course, that

  • limit changes every day.

  • I do think there are real ways in which the quantity of data