UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

The Power Of Information

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30 October 2007

I attended a meeting recently at which a civil servant introduced a report which he was summarising as ‘exciting’. I had to stifle a yawn, thinking that what might be exciting for a civil servant would probably be very dull and boring. But I was wrong – the report on “The Power Of Information” is of much interest to those of us (and I include many readers of this blog) with an interest in promoting open access to information.

The report (which is available as a PDF document – 280 KB, 57 pages) was commissioned by the government and published in June 2007, as described on the Cabinet Office Web site.

The background to the report is an awareness of the popularity of Web 2.0, especially those which provide user generated content and how such technologies, coupled by a more open agenda, can enable information provided by government bodies to be reused in various interesting ways (Paul Walk recently commented on the phrase “The coolest thing to do with your data will be thought of by someone else“).

The government’s response to the review (which is available as a PDF document – 610 KB, 20 pages) was very encouraging, broadly agreeing with all of the recommendations.

Although this report is aimed at information produced by central government bodies (i.e. information covered by Crown Copyright) my view is that the publication of the report and its acceptance should be welcomed by those in the educational and cultural heritage sectors. The report can help to move the debate within these sectors on the reuse of data and encourage experimentation and sharing, rather than the conservatism we have seen in the past, with worries about loss of IPR and potential (though perhaps seldom realised) income-generation possibilities.

A report worth reading, I feel.

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3 Responses to “The Power Of Information”

  1. It seems that the Cabinet Office’s Web site has been reorganised recently, resulting in broken links to the two PDF documents cited in my post (and thanks to John Kirriemuir for notifying me of this).

    I have now fixed these links. Note that the broken link was to

    http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/publications/reports/
    power_information/power_information_response.pdf

    The new link is to

    http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/upload/assets/
    http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/strategy/power_information_response.pdf

    I can’t help but think that the new URIs aren’t what was oroiginally intended.

    Sadly various other links to the reports are also now broken including links from the Free Our data blog and the SLA Government Information Division blog.

    I should also mention the Comment On This Web site which ” site designed to make it easier to take the core of large published reports and allow anyone to comment on them”.

    Note also that a Google search for “Power Of Inmfoprmation” reveals that the page at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/contact_us/complaints.aspx is no longer available. Has a more open approach to government data been superceded by a civil servant’s revolt, with government publications being moved and no longer available. A very “Yes Prime Minister” response!

  2. […] for the government) paper was published called The Power of Information.  Brian Kelly recently wrote about it on his blog and it reminded me I had been carrying it around with me since I left JISC!  It took a hard look at […]

  3. […] on his blog by Matt Jukes (of JISC, but currently on secondment to HEFCE) reminded me that, in my post on The Power Of Information report, I should have mentioned that, as well as encouraging reuse of government data, the report also […]

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