Magazine article Information Today

Open Government, More OER, and the State of News Media

Magazine article Information Today

Open Government, More OER, and the State of News Media

Article excerpt

President Barack Obama named Vivek Kundra, the former chief technology officer for the local government of the District of Columbia, to two posts: He is now the federal CIO in the White House and the Office of Management and Budget's administrator for egovernment and information technology.

According to media reports, Kundra says he plans to make the massive volumes of nonsensitive government data available to the public through a new website called www.data.gov. (For details, see http://fcw.com/articles/2009/ 03/12/kundra-fose-speech-transcript .aspx.) "If you look at what happened when data has been democratized, when data has been put in the public domain, you've had an explosion of innovation," he says. At press time, no news had been posted at the data.gov site.

But the most interesting aspect of this was a community- based reaction - Wired has established a section in its How- to Wiki to "help focus attention on valuable data resources that need to be made more accessible or usable." According to the article, titled "Open Up Government Data," "If you're a fan of free data flow into and out of the government, Vivek Kundra seems like an ally But we can't rest on our laurels. Now is exactly the time when lobbying for particular data and documents to be made accessible could be most effective. Data.gov is coming: Let's help build it."

The Wired editors urge people to get involved and help edit the wiki: "This is your place to report where government data is locked up by design, neglect or misapplication of technology." The goal is to require that data be available in at least one public or open source format. The wiki already makes recommendations for specific data sets from the Department of Agri culture, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Food and Drug Administration, and more, and these look like excellent suggestions. There is also a section of the wiki that lists Models for Opening and Using Government Data, which includes sites such as USGovXML.com and Public.Resource.Org.

More Open Educational Resources

In my NewsLink Spotlight article for March 2, I covered open educational resources (OER) and libraries. OER focus on textbooks as well as on full courses, course materials, modules, journals, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques that are critical in the learning environment.

Since then, another open resource of- ficially launched following its highly suc- cessful public beta. Academic Earth of- fers free access to online video of full courses and guest lectures from leading educational institutions including Yale, Harvard, and MIT. For students struggling with linear algebra or those who are curious about a new topic, this site offers a treasure-trove of learning possibilities. The catalog of video lectures, spanning most major academic subjects, already contains 60 full courses and 2,395 overall lectures. Academic Earth says it plans to increase its content base significantly over time, drawing on open licensed content and direct partnerships with sources including additional universities, think tanks, conferences, government agencies, and educational television programs.

More information about universities' efforts to provide free educational resources on the web is available through the OpenCourse Ware Consortium and at the following websites of Creative Commons content producers: MIT OpenCourseWare, Open Yale Courses, and others.

The same week that Academic Earth was launched, YouTube debuted a new "educational hub" called YouTube EDU, a section of the site that is specifically for videos from colleges and universities. YouTube already had an educational category, but it included whatever anyone decided to categorize as educational. The new EDU section now features content from more than 100 colleges.

Plans to Save Newspapers

News from the newspaper industry has been grim with job and pay cuts, plummeting ad revenues, and curtailing or halting print versions. …

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